**NOTE - Review is done after about 2 months of playing.**
I downloaded gems of war after much debate about whether I wanted to try this free to play game. Past experiences lead me to believe its another "You can do a few days worth of progress now pay or wait". To my shock, however, Gems of War breaks that mould!
Gems of War is a match 3 style game, with your troops facing off against opposing troops in a variety of different battles or game styles. It is fairly simple to pick up, and addicting once you do. Now the elephant in the room with free games is whats the micro transactions like? Well I haven't spent a penny, and I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. Sure, I could have got that armour for my hero slightly sooner, but you get gems at a very consistent rate, if playing regularly, and participating in much of what Gems of War has to offer.
I am going to break this review down into various sections of the game, as I feel this the best way to review a fairly large game. It is worth noting I have not yet unlocked the underworld, soulforge or anything else that comes with that, and shall update the review once I do.
Before I get into the gameplay, I want to talk about how you earn troops. They primarily come from chests. This is where you'd expect a heavy paywall. When in fact.. there isn't really one. You earn all the currencies at such a steady rate, you don't really feel the need to spend. Troops themselves are diverse, and making a team can be a whole lot of fun. You can level them up using souls, or use traitstones to give them special attributes, or if you have enough duplicates, you could ascend them. There is lots to do on the team making front.
I am going to start by just talking about Kingdoms, and battles within them. The adventures are generally fairly easy, but with a decent story line to keep you entertained as you face off along a selection of battles in each kingdom. At the end you get to keep the hero you were helping as a troop. Each kingdom has its challenges, and they are sometimes fairly tough for newer players, but do reward very well. Then you can unlock a class at each kingdom, classes give you certain boosts, and you'd want to choose the right class for the troops you are currently playing with. Each kingdom when unlocked also rewards you with a banner, which boosts mana earned when matching certain coloured games, or in some cases, decreases it.
The second main thing I have found with Gems of War is guilds. I was very fortunate after hopping for a while between guilds to stumble across a great guild. Which as I will mention shortly, is very beneficial to you even as a solo player. Guilds work together to earn boosts, rewards and guild seals. The rewards are earned by spending your gold on the guardians, seals are earned by just playing the game, with a breakdown of this available in the guild menu. Seals are used primarily to open Guild Chests, and depending on how many seals your guild has earned that week, the more likely the chest is to contain a higher rarity troop. I think that is a pretty neat way of working it.
Also in guilds you have events, Tower of Doom, Raid boss, Invasion and Guild Wars. These are fun events with one on every week in a rotation. Given I have only been playing shy of 2 months, I have yet to properly experience them in great amounts. Though what I have experienced I really enjoyed!
PVP is another mode in the game, with both ranked and casual, so far I have only played ranked. It gives you a choice of 3 opponents, with their teams strengths listed, along with the rank points earned for beating them, or lost if you lose. You gain a small reward every time you advance a rank, starting at 15 each week. I find this to be a great mode, and can be played fairly casually, or, choose harder opponents for a tougher experience.
Their is a whole ton more game modes here, but I shan't list them all, they are under than game section of the menu, and all have a little fun to them.
My last point is how quickly you can earn the various resources, souls, gold, glory, gems and guild seals all trickle in at a very nice rate. As do keys to open chests. That is, so long as you are logging in daily for your daily, weekly and monthly reward, you check the daily challenges, and you participate in a guild. Even if you don't contribute much in a casual guild at first, others buying the rewards grant them for the whole guild.
All in all, Gems of War is a very, very solid match 3, free to play game. With challenging achievements the 100% may be unlikely, but an easy at least 1,000 gamerscore awaits anyone who has time for a good, free puzzle game. As such, I rate it 4/5.