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I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to play the “Prelude” beta for BotA and I thought it might be nice to give a little sneak peak of the game play. 

The PreludeEdit

This is what they are essentially calling the Beta rollout for this game. All of the players are regularly submitting feedback to help improve/fix the game before it's official release at the end of December. All data will be wiped with the public release, so it's more about getting a feel for the UI and identifying bugs.

The GameEdit

Cards: There are 3 alignments, Physio (Bruiser), Mental (Tactics) and Energy (Speed).  The cards have various rarities Commeon (C), Uncommon (UC), Rare (R), High Rare (HR), Super Rare (SR), Ultra Rare (UR) and Epic Rare (ER). The stats proportionately increased for rarer cards. Some are attack heavy, others are defensively weighted and then there are more balanced cards. Cards can be transfused (boosted) to increase their stat level and power boost level. They can also be evolved (fused) by combining two of the same card to form a higher rarity with better base stats. The fusing cards impart 5% of their stats to the final form or 10% if boosted to their max level before fusing. Fusing can actually be done multiple times depending on the rarity of the base card. The cards themselves, have a set of bubbles in the lower left-hand corner. The number of empty bubbles, shows you how many times the card can be fused. Once a card has been fused the max amount of times, its rarity increases one step. Commons(C) and Uncommons(UC) can only be fused one time, resulting in an uncommon when fusing commons and a rare when fusing uncommons.

You set up a deck of 10 cards (a squad) for the XvX battles and Missions. Only up to 5 are used in each strike. Which 5 seems entirely random, which eliminates a lot of the strategy unless you are lucky enough to have all 10 cards compliment each other. The cards can boost alignments and sometimes can have additional boosts triggered by either being in the same sub-group (ex. Jean Grey School For Boys) or having a connection to specific cards (ex. Gambit & Rogue) among the 5 cards being deployed. They also have a chance to do critical hits. The probability of a critical hit is proportionately higher, the rarer the card.

Cards can be recruited by using X-Coins (purchased) or Recruitment Points (available through gameplay). X-Coins allow you to buy two card packs, one for a single card (Rare or higher) or a bulk pack (at least one High Rare). The freebie cards are limited to Rare and below, so no chance to get lucky unless you pay the piper. There isn't any type of trading function in the Prelude version, so it's not clear whether that's going to be part of the official release or not.

Events: There are two types of events in the Prelude, missions and XvX battles. XvX battles pit two X-Teams (20 player alliances) against each other in a timed battle. Attacks use up command points depending on the rarity of each card (HR=9, R=8, etc.) . You only have 100 CP to start and can't increase the max. It doesn't regen over time either. You have to use Stamina to do command missions to pick up CP drops from the battles. Stamina regens at about a point/minute. You can buy Stamina Vials that restore you to full stamina. Total attack damage from each strike is converted to BP (Battle Points), which is combined for the alliance. Highest BP total for the match wins. No apparent multipliers or victory bonuses. Rewards for the XvX are based on alliance rank at the end of each day and there are 6 pre-scheduled battles per day. You don't initiate these, rather the system automatically starts the battle at the designated time, whether you have anyone available to fight or not.

Missions reveal the storyline in snippets as you defeat each stage of enemies. There's a core character as your "avatar" in these battles from who's perspective the story unfolds. Boss battles at the end of each level and increasingly higher stamina consumption as you progress through the levels. Enemy drops include command points, cards and recruitment points.

Completing missions and leveling up give you status points, one and three, respectively. These points can increase either your max stamina or your squad points. A squad is your 10 card deck and each card has a squad cost, similar to the CP cost mentioned earlier (HR=19, R=14, UC=9, etc). So to run 10 HR cards you would need 190 squad points. These points aren't used up, but just set the limit of what kind of deck you can put together.

UPDATE 12/17/13

Prelude players received a notice from the developers that the data wipe will occur on Thursday, 12/19. That should mean the official release is probably right around the corner. Game on!