"Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords" allows you to play through the campaign in single player, or use your character (and items, mounts, etc.) in wireless (not Wi-Fi) multiplayer battles against another player's character.
Starting the Campaign
To start the single player campaign mode, choose Single Player from the menu, which will take you to the Character Selection screen. Here you can create or delete characters, or choose to continue with a saved character (if you have already created one). Selecting the New button next to an empty save slot takes you to the Character Creation screen. Using , you can select your character's profession from the 4 choices:
Once you have chosen a profession, you select the character's gender and portrait. You can also change your character's name at this point. When everything is set the way you'd like it, you can select Okay to enter the world of Etheria.
Your home city of Bartonia contains a number of important areas for getting along in the world of Etheria. Your Citadel is here, which will eventually allow you access to new buildings and upgrades for your character, items, and mounts. The local tavern is a good source of rumors, which may lead to side quests or give clues about what may be coming in the story. There is a shop here to outfit your character with equipment, and you can access your inventory here to take equip those items. Many of your quests will also begin and/or end here.
The World Map
You can't get very far without going out into the world around Bartonia (and beyond). Quests will be marked on the map with an exclamation point; missions in your main quest will be marked in red, while side quests will be marked in green. Quest-related tasks will be marked with sparkles on the map. Using the , touch your character on the world map to view the menu of options available in your current location. To move around the map, touch the location you wish to travel to and your character will head that way. (Note that on the PC version of the game control is very similar, using the Mouse and left-click to indicate where you want to go and bring up the menu).
The Battle Grid
Eventually while traveling around the world you will get into a fight, either by running into an enemy or as part of a task to complete a quest. Combat in this game is handled on the Battle Grid: and 8x8 grid that holds yellow, green, red, and blue mana gems, skulls (and +5 skulls), stars, gold coins, and wild cards. The side with the highest Cunning skill goes first (whether the player's character or the enemy).
You can move the items to adjacent spaces in the grid to connect 3 or more in a row or column. When connected the items will have some effect on your character or opponent and cause the columns above to shift down (with the top of the column filled in with new items). Mana gems give your character mana of the according color, skulls do damage to your opponent, stars give your character experience, coins give money, and wild cards will match any other item and act accordingly. You can also cause cascading matches (matching more than one group of items in a turn) if you pay attention to where the items will fall.
On your enemy's turn, the items will effect your enemy as they did your character on your turn.
Controlling mana may very well be one of the most important tactics in winning battles. You'll want to keep a careful eye on your enemy's mana in order to try to prevent them from casting dangerous spells. You may have spells that take mana from your enemy, or simply do damage. You'll have to learn when you're best served by reducing their mana to prevent spells, or simply doing damage (in hopes of finishing the battle more quickly). Some spells will take some of your mana and give you mana of a different color, which may be advantageous when you want to cast a powerful spell of a color you haven't been able to gather on the grid.
When there are no moves left on the grid, all mana is drained from your character and the enemy, and the grid is reset. If you only see one possible move on the board (and nothing visible that will cause more moves to open up on the next turn), you may want to use as much mana as you can to damage your opponent before the grid is reset and mana is lost.
Money & Experience
When battling a weaker opponent, you may want to take advantage of your ability to draw the battle out and connect more coins and stars to increase your experience and monetary resources. When trying to save up money for particular items, buildings, or upgrades it may be a good idea to take on easy battles to gain some quick cash.
After a few battles and quests you will gain enough experience to level up. With each level you get 4 points to distribute among the 7 skill categories:
- Air Mastery
- Earth Mastery
- Fire Mastery
- Water Mastery
The Level Up menu allows you to distribute the points you have gained, though the number of points required to level up depends on the current level of the skill as well as your profession.
Air Mastery is attached to Yellow mana, Earth to Green, Fire to Red, and Water to Blue. Each Mastery increases mana gain from connecting the associated gems, the chance to gain an extra turn connecting those gems, and an increased chance of gaining a Wild Card when connecting the gems. Your character will also start the battle with more mana of that color. Battle causes the same increases for Skulls.
Cunning determines who goes first. It also increases the effect of Wild Cards, experience and gold gained from defeated enemies, chance of gaining an extra turn from connecting Coins, and the chance of generating a Wild Card from connecting Coins.
Morale increases the base number of life points, the chance of gaining an extra turn from Stars, generating a Wild Card from Stars, and increases base spell resistances.