There are plenty of turn-based strategy RPGs to choose from on the mobile app stores these days, but this abundance comes with its own problems. How do you pick a winner from such a crowded field?

Ubisoft has made it easy for you by releasing Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, an official Might & Magic game from a bonafide AAA publisher. It even throws in a snazzy AR feature for good measure. It can’t miss.

Set around a hundred years before hit PC RPG Might & Magic Heroes VI, Elemental Guardians is the latest opportunity to visit the otherworldly kingdom of Ashan. Fans of the series are no doubt already there.

But whether or not you’ve played a Might & Magic game before, this guide will get you on your feet and winning battles in no time. Let’s get started.

Combat

Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians involves taking a squad of elemental creatures and pitching them against either another squad of creatures in the PvP Arena or waves of AI enemies in the PvE missions.

A little status bar floats above the heads of these creatures containing green blocks to indicate health and a blue bar that fills up at a speed corresponding to the character it’s attached to (i.e. characters with high speed levels have bars that fill up faster.) When the blue bar is full, that creature can act.

In the bottom-right of the screen are skill buttons. Tapping on one of these and holding your finger down brings up an explanation box. Tapping a skills and then tapping on a target launches an attack.

Each creature has an unlimited basic attack, but all of its other attacks are bound to skill buttons. These buttons fill up with colour to indicate that skills are recharging. Also, you can hold a finger down on one of them to see how many turns you have to wait until you can use that skill again.

Your targets, meanwhile, all have arrows hovering over their heads. These tell you how much of an elemental advantage or disadvantage the attack you’re about to unleash will have. A green arrow means your attack will be devastating, a yellow arrow indicates that it will be no more or less devastating than expected, and a red arrow means your opponent may not even be aware of the assault.

Status effects are visible above characters’ health bars. Blue means that character is buffed, red debuffed.

Finally, you can step in with your avatar every time the circular magic gauge on the left of the screen fills up. The best thing about these volleys of deadly magic is that they don’t use up any of your creatures’ moves.

Those are the basics. Here are some pro tips to help you get ahead.

  • Most of the time in PvE you’re going to be facing off against waves of opponents. The best way to deal with these is to concentrate your fire on individuals rather than trying to spread the pain. In particular, aim for healers, because they are wimps and once they’re gone their surviving comrades won’t have anybody to fix them.
  • Being a generous sort of game, Elemental Guardians gives you fully charged skills at the outset of each round. You should use these straight away, not only to get the edge on your opponent but to increase the number of skills you’ll be able to squeeze into the round.
  • It’s necessary to sit through every battle. If you already know the outcome, you can tap the Auto button to let the AI take control, or tap the speed button to let the AI take control at two or even three times normal speed. And if things aren’t going the way you want, you can always tap Auto again to regain control.

Building your team

You start out in Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians with a Young Griffin and very little else. But pretty soon you’ll start recruiting new creatures, levelling them up, and deciding how and where to deploy them in battle.

Rank and level are the most straightforward metrics for assessing their value, but they have have two other characteristics that tell you how effective they’re likely to be in a given battle: Role and Element.

There are four different, fairly familiar roles. Attackers are adept at inflicting harm. Defenders are skilled at getting hit without dying and drawing fire away from comrades. Support characters are pretty weak but more than pull their weight by healing their counterparts and dishing out buffs. Saboteurs are sneaky lowlifes who aid your cause by debuffing your enemies.

Each character also has an affinity for one of four different elements that interact with one another in a fashion reminiscent of rock-paper-scissors. Air beats Water beats Fire beats Earth beats Air.

The path to victory lies in fielding a squad of powerful characters reflecting a balance of roles and elemental affinities.

But some creatures will just speak to you. It’s possible to empower your favourites even more by evolving them into more powerful versions of themselves and assigning Glyphs to them which boost particular attributes.

As long as you keep plugging away you’ll build an army. Here are some tips for making the most of the creatures at your command.

  • Don’t obsess over rank at the expense of level. Four stars may sound a lot better than three, but a four-star creature at level 10 is liable to get destroyed by a three-star creature at level 30. In short, pay close attention to your opponent’s stats.
  • You can have up to three teams saved in Elemental Guardians, so you’ll need to have several high-powered characters rather than just, say, one from each role category. Seven or eight superstar soldiers should set you up with the depth to take on every situation.
  • Attack and defense values may seem like the headline attributes of a character, but speed is just as important. A character with a high speed level will fit more moves into a battle, which could turn out to be decisive. You should also ensure that you have a couple of key skills on the battlefield, including a creature who can remove debuffs and a Defender who can draw attacks away from the rest of your team.

How to play in AR

To experience the AR in Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians, you can either play and level-up your hero until you unlock the Arena mode, or open up the game’s collection menu – the Menagerie.

You’ll also need a compatible device, a flat surface, and some light. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this, you almost certainly have access to a viable phone or tablet, and even the moon has a well-lit flat surface on it, so we’ll assume you’re good to go.

To reach the AR you need to enter the Arena or the Menagerie, where you’ll see a cube icon in the top-right of the screen. Tap on it, and then tap Select, and the battlefield or the creature itself will seem to materialise in front of you via your phone screen.

In the Arena, you can use the slider on the left of the screen to adjust the size of the battlefield before you finally tap Go to get the virtual conflict underway. You can adjust the size of the chosen creature the same way via the Menagerie.

The battles play out exactly as they would in the normal non-AR mode, but you get up and walk around to view the action from whatever perspective you like, including deep behind enemy lines. If you look down, you’ll even see the endless raging fire of the underworld, which is nice.

It’s unlikely that you’ll do most of your Elemental Guardians battling in AR mode, but it’s a neat, immersive feature that really brings the game, and your creatures, to life.

Download Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians for your iOS or Android device today!