Do you want your RTS without all the build-up? Then Creative Assembly might just have the mode you’ve been waiting for. Blitz fuses card-based strategy with the gameplay of Halo Wars. Your deck is your army, and you deploy it at will. We’ll all get a chance to take Halo Wars 2’s new game mode for a spin when the open beta hits on January 20. Let’s check out the trailer.

Rocket League spoiled me on five-minute doses of fun. Halo Wars 2 looks like it could do something similar. I’ll still play the regular modes, but Blitz has me intrigued. Balance is something every Halo Wars fan is probably thinking about after watching the trailer.

The good news is we’ll have ten days to figure out if anything is messed up. Matches will take place on the map ‘Proving Grounds’ and range from 1v1 to 3v3 across Xbox One and Windows 10. The devs want us to put the mode through its paces. All Faction Leaders and Blitz cards will be available during the beta. If there’s a balance issue to be found, Creative Assembly wants us to find it.

Halo Wars 2 Blitz gameplay

As with all betas, don’t expect your progress to carry over. Those who play the beta will get two free in-game Blitz card packs when the final version lands in February. Yep, you can purchase Blitz card packs in the final game. Here’s what 343’s Studio Head Dan Ayoub had to say about card packs back in October:

“You collect packs of cards by playing any part of the game, including playing the campaign, traditional multiplayer modes, and all Blitz modes, and in turn, you use those cards to create your decks. There are UNSC-specific cards and Banished-specific cards usable by any leader in that faction, in addition to cards unique to each leader. You can earn packs through completing campaign missions, daily and weekly challenges, and more. Once you earn a card, it’s yours forever and you can use it however you like. You do have the ability to purchase packs as well, but we are very mindful of ‘pay to win’ concerns and are expressly tuning to prevent those types of scenarios. We’ll also be adding new cards through DLC, that again can also be earned through challenges.”

Dan says the right things, but we’ll see how it shakes out during the beta and final game.

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Here’s what you’ll do when you fire up Blitz next Friday:

Pick a leader. Each leader brings different abilities and a different starting force. “You can choose a leader that fits your particular playstyle,” says Ayoub.

Build your deck. For the beta, you’ll earn cards while playing Blitz matches. In the final game, cards can be earned playing any part of the game – whether it’s campaign, traditional multiplayer modes or Blitz. 343 wants to avoid a ‘pay to win’ scenario, but that will be up to how often card packs are unlocked. As for duplicates, 343 is opting for an upgrade mechanic. Instead of sitting around with a ton of the same cards, the duplicates will go to leveling up that same card.

Who knows if Blitz will be the next ‘big’ multiplayer mode, but I can’t wait to try it out on January 20.

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