With Merit, the first work of the still young publisher Shrine Games starts on May 09th Kickstarter into crowdfunding. The game sees itself as an arena combat game without a luck component, in which the players have full control over their actions. We were able to test the prototype and chat with game designer Andrew Swan about his game. You can find out how Merit differs from other arena fighting games in the following crowdfunding preview.

The gods of the realms made a pact with Armageddon, claiming the realms for themselves. A tournament of the strongest heroes is held in each time cycle. The aim of the tournament is to control all Realm Stones or eliminate the opposing team. Those who win gain untold riches and power, while those who lose end up in tribute for Armageddon.

The full control

Merit is a strategy game in which two teams compete for dominance within an arena. The aim is either to defeat all opponents or to control all Realm Stones at the end of a round. A round consists of three turns. In each turn you have three energies that you can use for various actions (moving, influencing Realm Stone or character abilities). Each action costs 1 energy, although some character abilities can sometimes cost more depending on their strength. In addition, each hero only has a limited amount of energy per round. This prevents a hero from being used over and over again. This forces us to take a look at all heroes and use them in some way.

To make it a little clearer, I'll give you a possible move: With the first energy you take a hero and move him to a Realm Stone. With the same hero you then influence this Realm Stone for the second energy and gain control over it. Since the hero now has no more energy points for the rest of the round, we use the third and last energy point to use another hero's character ability and damage an opposing hero with it.

Merit looks great on the table, even as a prototype.

Merit looks great on the table, even as a prototype. Photo: Sven Karsten

Merit is full of those moments where you have to cleverly distribute your energy in order to use the best possible actions. For example, if you use up all of a hero's energy in the first turn, it can no longer be used for the remaining two turns of the round. Depending on the situation, this could be a clear advantage for the opponent. Errors in merit are thus quickly penalized. But it is precisely this tactical planning and caution against mistakes that makes the game so appealing. In Merit you have everything under your full control.

Realm Stones and Character Enhancements

If you influence a realm stone during the game, a die with the number 1 is placed on it. The die marks the strength of one's influence on the Realm Stone and can be increased up to 3. If an opponent influences one's own die, the number of points decreases and thus also the influence by 1. If we have Realm Stones at the beginning of a new round, we can unlock one character ability of any hero for each Realm Stone we control. It must be ensured that at least one ability of the previous level has been unlocked. Over time, the heroes become stronger and can perform ever more powerful combos. 

The fight for the Realm Stones is very intense. Here, every step must be planned precisely.

The fight for the Realm Stones is very intense. Every step here has to be carefully planned. Photo: Sven Karsten

Quick strategy

In summary, Merit is a strategy game that can be played quickly and is strongly reminiscent of analogue arena fighting games such as Super Fantasy Brawl or Skytear. However, what makes Merit stand out is that there is no element of luck in the game, yet it is easy to understand. It manages to combine full control and accessibility. In addition, Merit is played quickly. Our test games lasted about 30-40 minutes on average.

Merit has completely asymmetrical heroes, each serving different roles. So one hero is more of a tank or protector, while another deals more damage. Photo: Sven Karsten

Merit has completely asymmetrical heroes, each serving different roles. So one hero is more of a tank or protector, while another deals more damage. Photo: Sven Karsten

Each of the six heroes included in the main game plays a little differently and takes on different roles. So the Bog Troll is more of a tank that stands right at the front and quickly absorbs a lot of damage, but also deals it out. Joe Bokor, on the other hand, dies a little faster, but can deal a lot of damage over time with his poison. Merit thus offers space to try out different combinations.


Andrew has been working on Merit for about 2 years. Having had enough of arena fighting games with strong element of luck, he thought about how to make the genre more tactical and free of luck. In the end, a round package came out, which on May 09th on Kickstarter starts. The basic game will be financed for around 60 euros including stretch goals. In addition, the first expansion with three additional heroes can be purchased for 35 euros. If you are interested in the game, you can find more information on the official website. In addition, you can use the Table top simulator take a first picture of the game.

Information about merit

Number of players: 2 – 4
Age: from 13 years
Playing time: 20 - 60 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Classification: Arena Battle
Core Mechanisms: Area Movement

Author: Andrew Swan
Illustrations: –
Publisher: Shrine Games

Link to Kickstarter campaign: Link
Official Website: Link

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Last updated on 25.05.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API