The Ironclad Tactics set-up is really very elegant. The interface is a straightforward point and click affair, no keyboard shortcuts or other machinations are necessary. Unit types are easy to understand but offer tactical depth once their nuanced uses come into play. Even the single-use cards and weapons offer their share of strategical import. It may look useless on the surface, but that Movement card will save your mechanical butt more times than you can count, especially when you start dealing with stages that have key points to fight for and defend. Why oh why are human bones so crushable?
Co-op mode couldn't be more seamless. Joining with friends, you enter the main campaign and fight through city after city together. Players use their own decks, draw from their own pool of action points, and place cards simultaneously. Anybody can play cards on friendly units, but pausing a unit can only be done by that unit's owner. There can be the occasional moment of confusion when cards are placed on the same units simultaneously, but in general each player tends to stick to their own side of the overall strategy. Communication is extremely important, so Ironclad Tactics includes an in-game chat feature so you can sort out the details.
There are a few downsides to Ironclad Tactics, the most obvious of which is the use of cards and decks as its main mechanic. It's fantastic amounts of fun to craft and tweak different decks to handle different situations, and the faction/number limitations make formulating a deck strategy even more important. When carried into battles, though, you run the very real risk of getting a bad first hand. In Ironclad Tactics a bad first hand is often reason enough to reset the level, as you need every single advantage you can get. It's occasionally frustrating to have a victory hinge on the small matter of luck, but without randomness Ironclad Tactics just wouldn't be as exciting.
An item on the interface wishlist is slightly smaller card for the deck building screen. The sorting/filtering options work well enough, but with more cards on the screen you could make decisions without having to re-sort everything. A temporary "click to hide" option for cards that aren't filtered out but don't fit the theme of your deck would also be useful.
Ironclad Tactics does precisely what it sets out to do. It's more accessible than Zachtronics' previous offerings, but it doesn't lose too much complexity to achieve that. Co-op is fantastic and complements the game quite well. It relies a touch too much on luck than we're comfortable with, but otherwise it's a lengthy and satisfying game with all the tactical depth you could ever need.
The Co-Op Experience: Play with your friends in the co-op story campaign or against them in skirmish and nemesis modes.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.