It goes without saying that Pokemon Go is the reigning king of Pokemon phone games. It’s a massive phenomenon that continues to have insane popularity despite some limitations.
Limitations like it being of a battery hog, being tricky to enjoy if you’re not in a well-populated area, and perhaps most frustratingly, a lack of combat. There’s depth in raging river that is Pokemon Go, but it’s sometimes hard to find.
Enter Pokemon Duel, a mobile tabletop strategy game that’s one part chess and one part Chinese Checkers, with a dash of Warhammer for good measure. Despite a bumpy introduction, it is an absolute joy for fans of TCGs, CCGs, and the collectible nature of Pokemon.
Here’s how it works: You have a grid and two ‘goals’. Your Pokemon enter the grid, and your goal is to move your Pokemon from your end to the ‘goal’ of the other player. You hit the goal, you win.
Of course, it’s not that simple. To block your progress your opponent will play Pokemon in your way, resulting in a battle that is quite similar to a D20 roll. A spinning wheel pops up, you tap, and the wheel will land on one of several manuevers, be it special attacks, defensive moves, or -gasp- the dreaded ‘miss’.
If you do damage to your opponent they’re whisked off the board for a few turns, leaving your path open. There’s also status effects that will embiggen their ‘miss’ window, leave them frozen in place, and so on.
It’s all quite intoxicating, and despite the roulette-esque nature of the battles (which is very D&D / Warhammer) there’s a lot of strategy at play here. You want to play Pokemon types against each other to increase attack success, make defensive moves, and so on.
There’s also an insanely complex back-end that sees you upgrading Pokemon by fusing them with upgrade materials and also other Pokemon, evolutions, move upgrades, loot, and so on.
However, the learning curve is…a gentle stroll up hill. After learning the mechanics you’ll be playing nearly several matches against a brain dead AI as you ‘rank up’, and it’s easy to get discouraged at the ease. Stick it out and you’ll be rewarded with a great challenge, and a heck of a lot of fun against the AI, and most interestingly, real people.
Check out some high level play here: