EA has said ambitious RTS-cum-MMO BattleForge will launch for PC across Europe on 24th March.
Those keen enough to pre-order will be offered four exclusive unit-cards, each covering one of the four magic powers within the game: Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow. These will be slightly levelled up, and pre-orders also gain immediate access to the current beta test.
BattleForge, developed by EA Phenomic in Germany, pits armies against enormous computer-controlled monsters or hordes directed by other players.
The composition of the fighting force is dictated by the choice of 20 virtual trading cards, which can represent units, spells or abilities. There's no base-building or tech trees, just action.
Alongside PvP duels are co-op battles for teams of two or four. There are also huge PvE raids for 12 people where scenario missions must be fulfilled and some sort of boss bested. These give out raid loot - special cards or card upgrades.
The MMO similarities continue through social functions such as guilds and chat rooms, plus there's a marketplace website for trading as well as an in-game auction house and direct bartering between players.
Retail versions of BattleForge will come with around 100 to 120 different cards picked from an initial pool of 200. Obviously some will be rarer than others, just like our Ultimate Warrior sparkly WWF sticker-card was nearly 20 years ago.
EA Phenomic told us booster packs would be sold for less than EUR 4, but buying will be optional and players can compete just as fiercely without spending a penny.
BattleForge is currently in open beta, which you can stand in line for by registering over on the official site.