Sins Of A Dark Age: The World’s First F2PMOBARTS


I just Googled ‘F2PMOBARTS’ and received nothing. Well done, Ironclad Games! Sins Of A Dark Age, has broken the all-seeing eye of the world’s best search engine, and brought out its passive-aggressive side: “Did you mean: ‘F2P MOBARTS'”. No, Google. I did not. F2PMOBARTS, you are officially a new genre. Now to explain what all those words mean.

It”s a free-to-play multiplayer strategic game set in a fantasy world, with players buying new Heroes, Commanders and skins – there will be no purchasing of specific powers. Ironclad’s last game, Sins of a Solar Empire combined 4X and RTS to rather wonderful effect, and SoaDA (I see what you did, there) does the same with the burgeoning MOBA genre and RTS. That is you’ll have two roles to take up: the typical Hero will be the battle leader on the ground level, part of a small team of four powerful (human controlled) warriors leading AI troops into the fight. The Heroes are driven by the Commander, who’ll be conducting the fight, building bases, training and sending in support, and building up ‘Realm Powers’, which are both game-turning magix AND my new porn name.

Like everyone looking to build a MOBA, Ironclad are pondering how to make the community a bit less, hmm, I’ll diplomatically use the term ‘spiky’. SoaDA’s take on making their game a more welcoming community to new new players by matchmaking new players together, and providing people bonuses for joining in-progress battles, taking the place of quitters.

Here’s Ironclad’s Blair Fraser ruining my awesome acronym by calling it an “action RTS”. F2PARTS? It’ll never catch on.

You can stake your place for the summer beta right now.


  1. max pain says:

    Wohooo, I’ve been waiting for Free to play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Realtime Strategy Game to show up!

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I am so glad you wrote that, as my frustration levels trying to figure the bloody acronym out were rapidly rising after a shitey day at work. BOO TO WORK

    • tkioz says:

      Oh thank you very much… I hate it when people use acronyms without explaining them.

    • Syra says:

      Down With Needless Acronyms!

    • Aradalf says:

      Did you guys not read the article?

  2. RedViv says:

    So it’s kind of like what WarCraft III was going to do? Grand.

  3. RegisteredUser says:

    Alright children, you had your fun and phase of being trendy with all the cool online only gaming kids.
    And now please go back to making dedicated singleplayer experiences that are a refreshing take on genres and look good, too.

  4. Gnoupi says:

    Yeah, they call it an “action RTS” in the FAQ too, it confused me at first. Only when I read “3 lanes with towers”, I understood what they were actually talking about.

    It seems interesting, but I’m a bit afraid of how it will go with the commander, community-wise. In a classic MOBA, you can already be hurting your team by playing badly, since it helps the other team when you die. But if you are more or less neutral, not dying but not helping that much, it’s more or less ok. But what if the commander is failing? It seems like he will be carrying a bigger weight on his shoulders, closer to the way it works in a game like Savage or Nuclear Dawn.

    • huw says:

      Yeah, you’re absolutely right; having a bad commander will probably be absolutely devastating and, like Nuclear Dawn, I think I’ll leave the job to others!

      Having said that, I like the genre and after the glorious SoaSE I’ll buy pretty much anything Ironclad make. :)

  5. Echo Black says:

    Free to Play Mob Arts? Sweet!

  6. Sinkytown says:

    Isn’t an RTS already an Action RTS by definition?

    • Chris D says:

      Does Crusader Kings 2 count as an RTS?

    • Chris D says:

      Ok, fair enough.

      Actually now I’ve thought about it a little more I’d answer my own question by saying: Is CK2 a strategy game in real time? – yes. Is it part of the genre commonly known as RTS? – No.

      Although, to take Sinkytown’s question a little more seriously. Sins of a Solar Empire is an RTS but I don’t think many people would count it as an action game.

    • mike2R says:

      CK2 is basically turn based, it just doesn’t pause between turns unless you tell it to. That’s the way of thinking about it that makes sense to me anyway.

  7. Teronfel says:

    Not another one of those…

    • innociv says:

      Further, isn’t the MOBA genre centered around competitive teamplay?

      The Ironclad developers hate competitive games/gameplay/gamers.

  8. Zeewolf says:


    Just kidding. They lost me at Free to Play.

    • pipman3000 says:

      yeah i mean come on being able to try a game before you spend any money on it? what ind of bs is that

    • Zeewolf says:

      It has to do with the game design. Games designed as services are almost never as good as games designed as products. There are exceptions, but free to play only makes it worse because they have to design their games in a way that always tempts you to buy more stuff.

      Besides, free to play basically means multiplayer only, and as we all know there’s nothing worse than having other people in our games.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yeah I have not seen a FtP game worth my time and I have tried out a few. The experience is always way way too reward circuit focused and not nearly enough gameplay focused. They are all just “Progress Quest on crack”. That way you get hooked and shell out money. But when your focus is on making the game addicting instead of good you end up with a pretty empty experience.

    • Thants says:

      F2P is usually terrible but League of Legends shows that it is possible to make a good F2P MOBA.

    • Miltrivd says:

      I gotta disagree about LoL being good. I think it WAS good, but their business model forces them to produce new champions every 2-3 weeks. This leads to a balancing issue, how do you balance the interaction of 80+ characters adding a new one every few weeks, the solution they found it’s the downfall of the game: make every character similar to the ones already existing. This accomplishes 2 objectives; the new champions are not “additions”, they are replacements, improved/more versatile versions of old ones so it wants you to have them and stop using the ones you did buy already; second, having similar abilities (shields, buffs, dashes, AoE, some kind of crowd control) means that balancing is just a matter of changing numbers instead of checking interactions between different abilities.

      Risk & Reward mechanics are dying in LoL and it’s pretty sad, because it was a good game.

    • shinygerbil says:

      Have you tried Super Monday Night Combat? It’s pretty easy to get a beta invite these days. Free to play, but with a heavy emphasis on being competitive, and generally just a really good game all round. I certainly don’t play it for the phat lewt’s.

  9. xephyris says:

    DOTA matches can snowball because the outcome of an engagement grants the victor advantages while penalising the loser. Making mistakes and losing engagements can cause matches to “snowball” to a conclusion, negatively affecting the rest of the four members of your team, which I think is certainly part of the reason why communities that form around these games have such a bad reputation.

  10. Maldomel says:

    I read that as F2PMOBARFS the first time. Got me confused.

  11. bear912 says:

    At first I did not see the staring eyes in the picture. Now I see them in everything. I will never sleep again.

    • soco says:

      Nooo….aaarrrrghh, why would you point that out.

      I even scrolled back up for that. =/

  12. Hisui says:

    “Somebody combined the genres of MOBA and RTS! You control a Hero AND an army! So unique!”
    But… but that’s WarCraft 3? And back then that sort of thing was called an RTS with RPG elements…

  13. alexheretic says:

    I just hope the rash voyage for MOBA money won’t sink Ironclad, or worse redefine them.

  14. InternetBatman says:

    You have to wonder how many Dotalikes the market will support. I think it would do better with a strong single-player campaign and a skirmish mode than as a f2p game competing against a crowded market.

  15. neolith says:

    Didn’t think I was ever going to say this, but… I’m too old for this shit.

  16. Blackcompany says:

    This sounds good. Except for the get-a-bad-commander-and-lose part. And the multiplayer online part. Ok, so it sounds like a good concept for a single player RPG/RTS hybrid. Which would be nice.
    Any over/under on when this whole “it has to be multiplayer” trend will finally blow over? We could use some quality single player games. And the first developer to abandon this trendy online, FTP gaming thing will have a chance to just about corner an abandoned – or at least under-supported – market. Would that someone would catch on to this…soon.

    • Thants says:

      Oh don’t be silly. There are still plenty of singleplayer games. There’s no point in complaining that inherently multiplayer games like MOBAs are multiplayer.

  17. pakoito says:

    So they have created Savage almost ten years later, by the same company that later remade DOTA into Heroes of Newerth.

    link to

  18. Khemm says:

    No single player campaign?
    Well, what a shame.

  19. Miltrivd says:


    Savage and Savage 2: A tortured soul by S2 Games.

    I’m thinking with little success, when I tried the game, it was already dead with no barely 2 servers and both empty, that was 2 years ago.

    No idea if this was their original concept or they got inspired from somewhere else. Said that, I hope this guys have better luck, because I really liked the concept back in the day, so I’m all for supporting this game.

  20. ylandrin says:

    Folks, if you know SOASE, think of it that way:
    * one player is the main player = commander
    * each capital ship is controlled by a player = hero

    Really though, it’s not that different… and it’s probably going to be as simple and mind-blowingly addictive as the original SOASE.

    I still can’t wait for Rebellion though… because: TITANS!!!!