Preview: Battle the Elements in Cooperative Tower Defense Game Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising | Casual Game Revolution

Preview: Battle the Elements in Cooperative Tower Defense Game Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising

Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising

The kingdom is under attack once more, this time from the very elements themselves (and of course plenty of monsters).

Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising is a standalone sequel to Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time. It shares much of the same core gameplay, but adds and improves on elements in several areas. Currently seeking funding on Gamefound, Elemental Uprising is a challenging tower defense cooperative puzzle game.


The game is played over a series of scenarios. Each scenario shows you which pieces of the board to put together for that level. The board always features a path that the enemy cards will move along on their way to reach the kingdom, building sites that are placed next to the path and belong to specific players, and spawn points where new enemy cards will appear. Each player chooses a hero that comes with their own unique special abilities. The scenario also shows which cards you put in the enemy spawn decks and gives any special rules for the scenario. Each scenario also has its own unique win condition.

Each round of the game has a series of phases. Players do not take turns, but resolve the phases together. During phase one, you draw an enemy card for each spawn point (each spawn point has its own deck associated with it) and place it on the empty path space closest to that spawn point. Each villain card shows a grid of squares: some squares will be empty and some will have monsters in them. In order to defeat a villain card, you must cover all the monsters on it with damage tiles and/or soldiers. Some monsters have special abilities. Sometimes you will also draw event cards from the spawn decks. These feature story moments that can introduce new rules or cause certain situations to occur.

In phase two, players can play tower cards, and activate their heroes. When you play a tower card from your hand, you must place it on one of your own building sites and the site must be empty. You then resolve its damage. Each tower card shows what type of damage it deals (some enemy types can only be hurt by certain types of damage), its range, and the number and shape of damage tokens you place on a villain card it hits. It also shows if you can rotate or flip the tile or if it must be laid in the orientation shown. Some towers have you place soldier meeples on villain cards instead of damage tiles. Some towers also have special abilities connected with their damage.

During this phase you may also pass tower cards to other players. When you do this, you return the tower card to the supply and pass a higher level version of that tower for another player to add to their hand next turn.

When activating your hero, you may move them a certain number of spaces and use their attacks and special abilities to place damage tokens on villain cards. You may also end your movement on a villain card.

There are two special types of environmental features you can find on the board: magic blossoms and lava pools. When a hero lands on a space with a blossom, you can flip the blossom token over to its used side and then place a single damage tile on two different enemy cards. The lava pool allows you to collect a crystal when you move a hero through a space with one on it, however if the hero ends its space on or adjacent to a lava pool, he will be dealt a point of damage.

During round three, you remove any defeated villain cards, earning a certain number of crystals or gold as shown on the card. Next, each villain card moves one space down the path towards the exit. If a villain card exits the path the kingdom loses one health point for each monster shown on the card that is not covered by a tile. If the kingdom runs out of health, the players lose the game. If soldiers are on a villain card, they will stop the card from moving forward once but are then discarded from the card. Heroes also stop a card from moving but take a point of damage. If your hero ever runs out of health, you remove him from the board and the hero must spend one round on your player board before recovering.

Finally, all players pick up the tower cards that are on their building sites. Finally you may spend crystals to buy new towers from the supply or use gold to purchase special modifications for your tower buildings such as additional damage tiles or the ability to add a soldier to another attack type.

If you have completed the win condition and this is the final round, any enemy cards that are still on the path move through to the exit and damage the kingdom as they would regularly. If the kingdom is still alive, the players have won.

Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising components


Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising is a challenging puzzle game that is quite similar to its predecessor but introduces interesting new elements that improve on what came before. New tower and monster abilities have been added, the events are all new, and the win condition system has been revamped.

The core gameplay is quite interesting, with its tower defense mechanics nicely implemented. You really have to plan ahead, and consider each tower placement carefully. You need to think about the types of damage you can inflict, how the damage tiles all fit, and what cards you can afford to pass now so that they’ll be stronger later. The new modification mechanism combines nicely with these ideas, and adds another element to weigh.

Elemental Uprising’s best new addition is the event cards and the wider range in win conditions, as well as the removal of portal enemy cards that played a key role in the first game and destroyed any towers that attacked it, which could be a very frustrating ability to constantly come up against. The event cards are also a nice way to introduce new rules or to make the scenarios feel a bit richer, and bring some nice variety to the spawn decks.

The game does have many rules to run through and, depending on the scenarios, the play time can vary. It is definitely in the higher end of complexity for fans of more casual games, but it does a good job of slowly introducing many of its concepts and not throwing everything at you at once. For example, during the first scenario you don’t have to deal with hero abilities. Things like that help the game to feel a little more accessible, and allow you to ease players into it.

While we only played a prototype of the game that did not have all the miniatures or components that are expected from the final product, we did like the overall aesthetic, with the jungle tiles and bright cartoony artwork. The rules were also clear to follow. Tower modifications are tracked by stickers which you remove at the end of each scenario, and we did have some concerns over how much stickiness these would retain in the completed game with extended use.

Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising is hard. You’re not going to win every time and sometimes it can be brutal. But it’s incredibly satisfying when you win because you’ve had to use your towers in clever ways and really think about each turn. If this is the type of cooperative game you enjoy, you should absolutely check it out.

Pros: Challenging cooperative puzzle, event cards, range in win conditions, general aesthetic and component quality

Cons: May be a little on the complex side for some players, we had some concerns over the use of stickers

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.