Have You Played… Ace of Spades: Battle Builder?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Ace of Spades: Battle Builder imagines Minecraft as a multiplayer shooter, where 16 players on each side shoot, build and tunnel their way to victory. The gunplay never really held enough satisfaction for the game to have any staying power, but it was an interesting experiment nonetheless.

There was a certain thrill to building your own sniper tower, or digging towards someone in a unique take on trench warfare. In my experience though, the most fun was to be found underground.

Two schools of thought dominated the ‘capture the flag’ mode, which is where I spent most of my time. Some teams would build underneath the flag, hoisting it up under bizarre, twisting constructions designed to make it as hard as possible for the enemy to destroy. Other teams would try and hide the flag underground, which would be when it was my tunnelling crew’s time to shine.

One person would dig while the other trained their gun at each exposed block, knowing that any moment they might break through to wherever the flag was being kept. Occasionally, we’d stumble on a tunnel dug out by the enemy, which would lead to strange confrontations as more and more players would pile into the tunnels, digging out new flanking routes that would themselves spawn further flanking routes. Those custom dug warrens were some of the strangest battlegrounds I’ve fought over in a video game.

9 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I wanted to like this game. But the development seems really directionless and the tone is scattered as hell. Plus I’m really, really bad at it.

    But I still think something like this could work, with the right team, or the even this game, with the right group.

  2. NotTheMessiah says:

    I spent a lot of time with this game in its original incarnation before it became paid. There was an article on it back in the early days on this site, and I spent months of pure joy. Never played this paid version though, but I’d heard v mixed things which seems to have lead to the buzz dying off. A shame, really.

    There’s an open source implementation of the “classic” version here – link to buildandshoot.com Definitely think I’m going to give it a whirl again!

    • Kemuel says:

      I tried the paid Jagex version after absolutely loving the indie pre-alpha freebie and hated almost every single thing about it. I’d never heard of Build and Shoot before but if it’s just the original Ace of Spades then I am so there.

  3. DodoSandvich says:

    Well as someone who has played about 1400 hours of this and won their world championship thing years back I gotta say:

    Everything outside classic mode is bad. The devs have no idea what counterplay is, and the marksman sniper is broken.
    If you like twitchy sniper duels, it’s ok, but otherwise not.

    And that DLC they made is the worst DLC in the history of gaming. Complete P2W where they gave the best classes weapons that patches up their weaknesses wheras the weaker classes get interesting but absolutely uncompetetive weaponry.
    Not to mention the parachute that broke zombie mode.

    All that said, Jagex made a sequel that is such a huge improvement that it is actually worthy of that title.
    Which is F2P and has been running for a few years. They sadly just introduced lootboxes, but I would still recommend checking it out. Name is Block’N’Load, find it on Steam.

  4. April March says:

    I did! I started playing it after the WWI style alpha that everyone loved, but I still find it excellent. My memories mirror Max’s; I’d usually pick miner and go underground, trying to find a little known path to the flag. I also liked going as the jetpack class and trying to go over the defenses; wherever I landed I could carve out an opening.

    Even as I played I knew it’d be short-lived. Jagex’ poor management hastened an ending I saw coming. But it left great memories.

  5. yobokkie says:

    Having played both, I think blockstorm found a better balance between the building and tunnelling and fun gunfights. Either way I much preferred this style of online game, where strategy and trolling were just as much a part of it as straight up shooting skills.

  6. Nesty says:

    I agree that the classic CTF mode was the only one worth playing. I was also a fond defensive / midfield underground builder, making elaborate “flag rooms” and intricate tunnels between bases with maze elements to throw off would be chasers, and hidden alcoves to ambush the enemy – that was so much fun! The combat was alright – I quite enjoyed the instagib headshots.

  7. Ham Solo says:

    This game was so much fun and had so much potential when it was just green vs blue trench warfare with bolt action rifles. Then it went to shit.

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