Chaos Reborn is quite simply the best strategy game on PC this year (maybe in all years, but I don't want to go too far). From the brain of Julian Gollop, creator of XCOM, and slowly pushed onto our screens through Steam Early Access, Reborn pits you and another player as wizards on a hex-based battlefield who are able to summon monsters to fight for you. The first wizard to get killed loses.
Gollop has announced that Chaos Reborn is almost complete, with a release date of October 26th.
I've played dozens of hours of Chaos Reborn over the past year and I'm forever finding new tactics and feints to try against my opponents. Well, opponent – singular: Jeremy Peel from PCGamesN. For months we've been going back and forth, sometimes I'll win, sometimes him.
All strategy games have you try and get into the mind of your opponent but Chaos Reborn's illusion system makes each battle fraught with paranoia. When you summon monsters to the battlefield there's a chance the summoning will fail. The more powerful the creature the more difficult it is to summon. However, if you don't want to risk it you can summon the monster as an illusion. Illusions have a 100 per cent chance of casting and they behave exactly the same as normal creatures, able to move, cause damage, and kill. They are a risk, though: an enemy wizard can't tell your illusions from the real thing but if they suspect deception they can use their turn to target and attempt to dispel a creature. If successful the illusion melts into thin air and the wizard gets another move. I've had games where Peel has successfully guessed each of my illusions and dispelled half my force in a single turn.
Illusions are a simple mechanic but the suspicion it casts over every game of Chaos is palpable. Too many games have ended with Peel telling me that his entire army was illusions, too many times the giant that clubbed my wizard to death was made out of knitted magic and not flesh and blood. Now I look at every unlikely summon as a fraud.
When Chaos Reborn launches later this month I may lose my mind to paranoia but it's well worth it. This game is fantastic.