Tabletop Gods Is an Underplayed Indie Gem

 

Tabletop Gods is a strategy game that kicks your butt and inspires you to try harder. I lost every single Arena match of the eight I played against a friend. Those defeats ranged from near victories to complete annihilations. But as my understanding of the game improved with each round, I began utilizing new strategies in the hope of securing some kind of advantage. While that didn’t really work (because I’m bad), I found Tabletop Gods to be complex, engaging, and tons of fun despite my record of losses.

Tabletop Gods is a top down strategy game available on Windows for $19.99. It’s currently being developed by Ghost Fish Games and was published by Other Ocean Group in early access (with VR Support available now).

Factions, Maps, and Match Settings

In Tabletop Gods, the player has to defend their fortress with a set of towers, traps, magical abilities, and various units who can also attack the enemy’s base. Since it’s currently in early access, everything is subject to major change. As of right now, the game has only a couple of maps and factions, players are unable to edit match settings, and there’s just one competitive gamemode.

The two in-game races are Humans and Undead, which each have five unique units and three individual towers. Either race can replace these five units with any of the four mercenaries. Mercenaries are neutral units that often serve a general purpose which both sides could find useful.

However, both factions are generally similar with slight tweaks in stats. Humans have a ranged unit which does more damage than its Undead counterpart, but it has much less health.

So far, my favorite unit is the Necromancer. Watching a powerful army of skeletons quickly grow without having to waste resources is undeniably satisfying. Not only that, but the fact that it levels up quicker than any other unit has nearly led me to victory quite a few times.

These two factions are rather complex on their own, so the game would need only a few more for its full release.

On the other hand, Tabletop Gods could do with at least half a dozen maps. This would add much needed variety to the game, since switching between two maps can get repetitive. Currently, the player can battle in the Castle Grounds or the Nether Realm. However, both tabletops (maps) are well-designed, with each being a thematic parallel of the two races. The Castle Grounds is home to adorable stone structures and lush greenery, while the Nether Realm is the complete opposite: a vile and monstrous stronghold for the living dead.

What would make the limited number of maps more bearable is if Tabletop Gods gave the player control over the match settings. My friend pointed out (as he continued to thrash me) how useful it would be if we could increase the round timer. Additionally, there’s only one competitive gamemode, and it would be nice to see some other ways to play.

Deceptively Simple

What I enjoy most about Tabletop Gods is how deceptively simple it is. My initial impression was that there wasn’t much to it aside from randomly spawning units, but as my friend and I continued to battle, we were conjuring new strategies every other round.

There was a point where I spammed Spike Traps because I believed they were overpowered, but in retaliation, my friend spawned Bombers, which set off the traps for the sake of his other units. Then, I built three cannons in a triangular shape at the center of the Castle Grounds, and this strategy worked for a couple of minutes, but my friend quickly realized that his special unit, The Champion, had a shield that could reflect all ranged attacks. Long story short, I got wrecked.

The most memorable moments of each match is when one of us used an ultimate spell. Seeing a giant fireball crash down and completely obliterate all of your units when you’re finally in a good position is as much of a devastating sight as it is a hilarious one.

Surprisingly Smooth

For an early access game, I was surprised by how smooth Tabletop Gods is and the fact that I didn’t encounter any bugs.

On top of that, all of the menus were quite pleasant to navigate. They were presented via an unraveling scroll with a gorgeous temple in the background and the game’s use of vibrant colors creates an enchanting quality. I especially love all of the units, as they’re a wonderfully cartoonish iteration of standard high fantasy designs. In a game like Dark Souls, skeletons take on nightmarish qualities, but in Tabletop Gods they’re comical, with features like crossed out eyes and an unhinged slab for a jaw.

It was also quite fun to navigate the Codex and admire all of the quirky illustrations created for the different units, towers, spells, and traps because they add to the silly nature of the graphical style.

Verdict

It’s unfortunate that Tabletop Gods ($19.99) isn’t getting much traction, as it’s cleverly designed, rather pretty, and generally engaging. It’s exciting to wonder what the future holds for this game, as I’m sure I’ll be revisiting it frequently. With a couple of extra factions, some more maps, and match customization, it should be well worth its price.