Chaos Reborn is a 2015 Turn-Based Tactics game for PC, with strong board game influences. It was created by Julian Gollop - mostly known for being the creative mind behind the original X-COM - as a modern reimagining of one of his oldest classics, the ZX Spectrum game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards (1985). In 2018, the game was also ported to iOS as Chaos Reborn: Adventures.
In simple terms, Chaos Reborn is all about wizards duelling each other to the death, through casting magic spells and conjuring various creatures from a deck of cards. What looks like a virtual board game with elements of Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone actually differs greatly from typical trading card games in many respects. Most importantly, there is no deckbuilding. Players have access to the entire pool of cards from the very first time they start the game, but absolutely no control over what cards will be in their deck. Levelling and gearing up their wizards, however, will allow players to gradually influence the content of their deck, and while they can never outright choose what cards to take into battle, they can focus on specific types of spells and summons, and greatly modify their stats and effects in various ways. This element of chaos and control shapes the very heart of the game.
Chaos Reborn contains examples of the following tropes:
- BFS: The unicorn of all creatures, rather than sporting a narwhal-like horn, has a massive greatsword for a head. It looks as awesome as it sounds.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The original social God mechanics were going to revolve around this, and possibly Top God. Unfortunately, due to the game's limited success, these and all of the God characters developed by the backers became What Might Have Been.
- Hellhound: A three-headed, canine monstrosity with a skeletal body, and a sinister gaze that can paralyse enemies.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: part of Stubla's culture.
- Instant Gravestone: Whenever a summoned creature (that isn't undead or an illusion) gets killed, it leaves behind a gravestone with its pictogram of it. Casting a certain spell on the stone will raise the creature back from the dead.
- Magitek: All technology is powered by mana, which in turn is being extracted and processed by technology.
- Master of Illusion: One major game mechanic revolves around the creation of illusions of summonable creatures to deceive opponents. Illusions have the same physical presence and powers as their real counterparts, but are easily disbelieved by an enemy wizard. What makes them such an important tactical tool is that they can always be conjured reliably without any additional mana costs, and leave no corpses behind that might be resurrected as zombies.
- One-Hit Kill: There are no hit points in the game; any direct attack is either a complete miss, or a fatal hit. Even the strongest, most heavily armoured creatures go down from a single strike. The probability of a successful attack is determined entirely by attack and defence/evasion stats, and a final dice roll decides the outcome. And yes, that means that a common rat could technically kill the massive sapphire dragon, one of the game's elite units - technically, because the probability would of course be very low.
- Order Versus Chaos: The central theme of the game is the spectrum between law and chaos, with the former being represented by cold, blue hues, angular structures and themes of life, domination and technology, whereas the latter is expressed in reddish colours, twisted shapes and themes of (un-)death, anarchy and corruption. In between the poles sits neutral, green in colour, focusing on the unbiased forces of nature. Casting spells of either law or chaos will tip the scale towards the respective side and strengthen further spells of the same alignment. Neutral spells are stronger by nature, but remain unaffected by the alignment shift.
- Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good: On moral levels, however, things are that imbalance of any kind is bad; an overly Law dominated place is just as alien and lifeless as a Chaotic one, just frozen rather than stormy. Fluff-wise, the Gods of Law created the Sorcerous Overlords you face in the Realms of Chaos mode, and the Gods of Chaos are patrons of various Rebel Leaders (though it should be noted the former did so to prevent another Earth-Shattering Kaboom).
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The dwarf stays true to its archetype as a stout, bearded, steadfast little brawler that wields a large hammer. Like most units in the game it does however sport a rather unique design, wearing a tall, chimney-like helmet almost the height of its own body (making the dwarf effectively appear twice as tall as it actually is), and even beard armor.
- Our Elves Are Better / Space Elves: The elf also generally follows its archetype of the slender, Always Female, bow-toting forest creature. Other than that, it is wearing futuristic-looking armour that hides an oddly emaciated frame, sickly-purple skin, disfigured face, and a massive mane of screaming pink hair.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire is little more than a shapeless black wraith with two glowing red eyes, that turns into a swarm of bats occasionally, drains enemies of their very life force, and wears a ridiculously ornate waistcoat and cloak, which gives it an uncanny resemblance to Dracula from the Castlevania series.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The zombie is a bloated, rotting corpse covered in mushrooms, which is slow and incredibly weak, but has the ability to turn its victims undead, provided it somewhow manages to kill them. However, other creatures turned by a zombie or resurrected through a Raise Dead spell retain all their stats and abilities, and don't look much worse for wear.
- Random Number God: Arenji. Her name is even a contraction of "RNG".
- Rank Up: As part of the metagame, wizards can ascend in ranks, become kings with their own realms to build and defend, and eventually reach godhood, complete with divine powers (to bestow various boni upon other players who decide to worship them) and luminescent tentacles sprouting from their heads.
- Science Fantasy: The game mixes typical fantasy tropes, such as dragons and unicorns, with futuristic high-tech elements.
- Shattered World: The game takes place on the floating remains of planets, torn apart in many an Earth-Shattering Kaboom thanks to the belligerent nature of their magical denizens.
- Smash Mook: The giant carries a massive boulder, which it uses to crush enemies with. As a last-ditch effort it can also throw its rock at a distant enemy, but is then bound to smashing further opponents with its bare hands, and decreased attack rating.
- Squishy Wizard: Wizards die in one hit and are vulnerable to pretty much everything. Which is why they rely mostly on summoned creatures and pawns to fight for them.
- Swarm of Rats: This is one of the creature spells. And it conjures several rats.
- The Old Gods: players who backed the Kickstarter at God level, although their only additional power is that they can never lose their God status... which turned out to be meaningless, because the social God mechanics were never implemented and God status is achieved automatically by reaching a particular level.
- The Paladin: True to its trope, the paladin is a law unit that protects nearby allies by immediately retaliating against any attack in its vicinity, and is specialised in killing undead creatures. Their implicit goodness might be inverted by the fact that law and chaos are not really bound to any inherent morals in this game, and they are subject entirely to their wizard master's whim.
- The Trickster: Piala Alice, who may also have been one of The Fair Folk.