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PAX West 2017: Hi-Rez Studios' Hand of the Gods

Garrett Fuller Posted:
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Early morning at PAX we got the chance to meet with Hi-Rez about their Smite Tactics strategy game Hand of the Gods. Hi-Rez continues to do well with their SMITE IP and bring in a lot of new ideas to game genres that we have not seen yet. Hand of the Gods mixes classic card game style building with a strategy board that plays out like chess. There is much more to the game than just drawing cards and matching abilities. There is movement, board control and a great mix of characters to choose from.

During the demo we chose to do battle with the Greek Pantheon. This is a deck set of cards led by Zeus which can summon multiple types of heroes. You can summon from a set of cards across the game or specific Greek gods and heroes from their pantheon. Our deck was pre-made so it began quickly. We battled against the AI just to get the hang of the game. Our opponent was the mighty Egyptian Sun God Ra. Both gods appear on either side of a board map set up with squares to move your pieces too. In the center of each side is a summoning stone. Your main objective to cross the board with your armies and destroy the summoning stone.

Zeus had a lot of characters to command, we quickly deployed harpies, grunts, and even Aphrodite onto the map to begin moving up. These cards weathered Ra’s storm, but we did not get to the summoing stone That began when we added Hades to the board. His ranged attack abilities allowed me to take out opponents two or three squares away. Once surrounded by lesser fighters Hades cut a nice path to the summoning stone which allowed me to move in for the kill. I was even able to summon a second Hades card to the board for some extra defense.

Right now the game has four playable pantheons but Hi-Rez is planning to add more. They have Greece, Egypt, the Vikings, and the Chinese. Each faction has its own play style. The Chinese host a lot of spells that can impact the board backed up by powerful dragons and gods. While, the Vikings are led by Odin and prefer to rush into melee and take down opponents by force. Egypt has a lot of healing and undead powers with Anubis and others in the deck. The team plans to add in the Japanese and India pantheons as well in future updates.

Right now, the game is in early alpha stages and they hope to come out with a full alpha build some time in November. The best parts of Hand of Gods are the multiple layers of strategy within the game. The card game is at the sides while you have the board in the middle. This creates so many different play styles with movement and attacks. You can build a heavy defense around your summoning stone and wait to counter, or move up the board with ranged characters in a chess like formation. Either way, Hand of the Gods is going to be a lot of fun for Smite fans when it launches. 


Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.