It’s time to face your fears, and make them your strength! Phobies is a wonderful turn-based gacha strategy game cooked up by Smoking Gun Interactive, made up by some of the same guys who came up with Company of Heroes, so they know what they’re doing in terms of strategy games.
You take command of your fears, called Phobies, on a hex-grid battlefield, using their special abilities to control the map and take down the other player’s Heart while protecting your own. With a beautiful art style and gameplay that manages to be very tense without needlessly rushing you, you could almost forgive the long grind you’ll go through if you want some new Phobies in your arsenal.
From the fear of technology taking over your life in the form of robots, to unpleasant thoughts of of death, disease and pain with the likes of the undead and floating giant viruses or walking giant medical needles, to the simple but primal terror of what nasty toothy critters go bump in the night, it’s your job to command them and make the other guy wet their pants in terror.
Note that the other guy will do the same to you, so keep your heart rate down and think carefully. After all, we’re here to help you with that, so be sure to read on and check out our Phobies beginner’s guide!
Phobies is a fairly odd strategy game, more akin to South Park: The Fractured But Whole than Advanced Wars. Rather than having standardized forces, each of your units is a unique creature who each at the very least has different stats from each other.
And more often than not, they come with special abilities. It’s also odd in that games can take anywhere from a few minutes to three days depending on how active either player is, necessitating the ability to run multiple games at once. This also means the game needs to reward you on a by turn basis rather than only by match. Here are some notes on the game’s various quirks.
Take Your Time
Turns in Phobies in normal play do not have any time limits, and matches expire after a whopping two days. Even Arena matches, which do have a time limit, have timers so slow that you’ll normally have a 4ourth of the timer left by the time you’re done moving.
The way the game is made encourages you to think really, really hard about how you’ll make your move, almost like a long Advance Wars battle. So take advantage of it! Just don’t take your time too sweetly during Arena matches, because even a slow timer is still a timer!
You can inspect objects, terrain, and enemy Phobies on the map by tapping on them. Inspecting enemy Phobies is very important, as that tells you their attack range: Sometimes, you might want to keep certain units out of the enemy’s reach and try to force them into a bad position, so knowing which tiles the enemy is able to attack on their next turn is important.
This goes double if they’re fielding ranged Phobies like the Jar Cannon: You don’t want to be within shooting range of their first movement.
As for reading inspection information, here is how to do it: The pink droplet indicates HP, which lets you decide whether to attack an enemy Phobie, or pull your own Phobies back.
The blue icon represents movement, with a blue paw indicating land movement and blue wings indicating flying movement, and a blue curvy arrow indicating tunneling movement. Note that tunneling movement can go past obstacles, but you cannot land a tunneler on the same tile as an obstacle like you can do with a flying Phobie. Not to mention, you can’t have a flying Phobie stack over another Phobie, or your heart, or Grave Stone’s statues, though they can fly past them.
The beige arrow icon indicates attack range. The type of arrow indicates how the attack goes, with a straight arrow indicating a direct attack which is blocked by obstacles unless it’s a flying phobie within melee range flying over a wall, and an arcing arrow indicating a lobbing attack, which can fly over obstacles. Note that a direct attack can still hit a Flying Phobie hovering over an obstacle if it’s in range, but will not go past said obstacle.
The final icon determines damage and damage type, with the icon varying depending on what kind of damage the Phobie deals, important when dealing with either Dimensional or Mechanical Phobies, who have weaknesses.
You can also get a more detailed view of a Phobie’s abilities and description by tapping their portrait after tapping them directly, allowing you to view their special ability if they have one.
Keys To Victory, A Lot Of Them
Keep a close eye on your key count and plan your moves accordingly. You have a limited total number og keys per match, and you are given three to use every turn, until the total number of keys are depleted. You can save keys by not summoning Phobies (or at least not spending all your keys in a single turn), 3 at a time, to summon stronger ones.
Watch The Replays
Phobies records replays of your matches, which can be accessed by tapping your player avatar in the main menu and tapping the Battle Logs tab, indicated by a button with an image of a film reel. If you lost a match but don’t know exactly how you got your Phobies killed or your Heart broken, watch the replay of the lost match. Maybe you were caught off guard by an unfamiliar Phobie on the enemy team, or the enemy exploited a weak spot in your defenses.
Speaking of unfamiliar phobies, you can use this to figure out what they can do if they appear on the enemy team, and remember them fdr the next time you fight them… Or for when you get them in the gacha. You can skip and repeat turns using the buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Ten-Front War? No Problem!
The turn-based nature of Phobies lends itself to an innovative way to play: Every match is saved for two days so you can come back to them later on if you’re busy, and the game allows you to have multiple battles at once running.
While early on you’re likely to disregard Lippy’s advice on running 10 battles at once because you’re fighting bots who can think of a turn the second you finish, just a tiny bit later you’ll be fighting real people with brains and more patience.
Which means they might take a while to think of a move, or might be busy doing chores or writing an article for their job. Having loads of fights running at once means you’re constantly playing, and rewards are given per turn as opposed to merely every battle end, though battle end rewards are obviously bigger.
Keep an eye on your heart’s HP, especially if your opponent has the map’s Panic Points under their control: Sometimes, even if it looks bleak and you want so badly to recapture the lost Panic Points on the map right the heck now, you might be better off letting them have it for one more turn or so while your remaining units go to town with the enemy’s Phobies.
At least, if your heart still has enough HP to take the hit. Trying to cap Panic Points without dislodging your opponent’s defensive line first can result in disaster, essentially digging yourself deeper into a grave. It is entirely possible to come back even with a sliver of heart HP if you’re careful, especially since your opponent’s Phobies might be injured during the process of taking those Panic Points in the first place!
Go Big Or Go Home…When Shopping
In the shop, you can buy Phobie card packs for Tears (the normal currency, akin to Coins in any other online game) or Coffee (the premium currency, akin to Gems in most mobile games), both of which you can earn at the end of a battle, win or lose.
Always go for the biggest most expensive pack for the related currency, since it not only gets you a better chance to get a new Phobie in your ranks, the bigger packs also get you more upgrade cards for overall less currency spent. It’s like going for a 10-roll in most other mobile gacha games, but weirder.
KNOW YOUR FEARS
The titular Phobies are various freaky fears you control in the battlefield. A lot of them have unique skills, but they all come under four types: Monsters, Undead, Mechanical and Dimensional.
Each type, other than Monsters, has various weaknesses and strengths, which may affect how well they do in certain roles, such as Undead making great standalone tanks and Dimensionals needing to be used with some wit to make the most of them. Here they are.
Marauding Murderous Monsters
Monster Phobies are the jack of all trades and masters of none. While they may have individual special abilities and skills like any other Phobie, they lack any type-specific weaknesses or strengths. Just use them right, study each individual one you happen to like using, and you’ll do nicely with them.
Oddly enough, one you’ll use very often is the starter Phobie, Razor Mouth. Costing only 1 key and having good movement speed along with just enough HP to survive one hit from your usual attack, you’ll be using them a lot in early game along with Contortio to establish your presence on the map early into a battle.
Unpleasant Undying Undead
This writer’s personal favorite thanks to their often cool designs and the fact they’ve ruined matches for them quite a few times, Undead Phobies cannot be healed by support Phobies or Healing Spa terrain tiles. Instead, they heal themselves by attacking, restoring a portion of HP based on the damage they deal during a turn.
As such, some of the best Undead phobies are tanks, or those that can deal damage to multiple foes at once. A standout late in a match is Eratic, a six-key cost walking electrically charged corpse whose basic attack has an area of effect and has a 2-tile range.
Every time the enemy masses their units carelessly, Eratic can punish them with a zap, and heal himself to practically full, allowing him to lock an area completely shut, or forcing them to scatter, allowing your other units to attack them more safely.
Another really good one is [THE BLOCK GUY], an artistically inclined brute who not only has decent stats for his cost, but can also move fast and build obstacles over tiles. All for a measely 3 keys. Another standby is Murder Bat, a Phobie who can fly quickly over obstacles and comes with a 2-tile ranged attack.
They can do double duty as a capturing scout and a gunner for your defensive line thanks to their relatively strong basic attack and definitely strong special attack, and even with their weak HP they can be relatively hard to dislodge thanks to their lifesteal: If you can’t kill them in one attack, they could take potshots at your Phobies to heal themselves and run away.
The more expensive Undead Phobies are pretty good at turning a bad fight around very late into the game, since their ability to heal themselves whenever they slap something allows them to fight aggressively while keeping themselves alive, sometimes racking up enough kills to pay for themselves twice over just from holding the line for so long.
Cold Heartless Mechanicals
Mechanical Phobies are immune to most debuffs that would reasonably affect an inferior meatbag, namely Poison and Disease. Unfortunately, they take extra damage from electrical attacks, which is dangerous considering Eratic is fairly popular once a match gets going and gets used a lot.
That being said, if someone brings Sheeping Gas, your best bet is a robot like Heavo, who is relatively bulky yet has fast movement and can attack at a 2 tile range, albeit for unimpressive damage. There is also Jar Cannon, a flimsy artillery unit with fast movement and a 3 tile attack range, meant to kite enemies or take control of Stim Pads, which power up the attack of anyone standing on them. Being made of metal, Electricity does a number on Mechanicals.
Dimensional Phobies tend to be ghosts or ethereal beings. When they die, they create a vortex that pulls their murderer towards them by a single tile. You can use them to lure a careless opponent into a trap if they’re nearly dead, but you should be careful yourself when using them, especially if your opponent is fielding slow moving superheavies like Cerberus: Cerberus’ insane 1000 damage attack and 3000 HP and Undead typing come at a cost of him being able to move a single tile at a time right?
The worst thing that can happen to you is the enemy Cerberus using the vortex from one of your own Dimensional Phobies to get in bludgeoning range of another of your Phobies, without using up their last movement point! Note they are weak against Poison and Disease.
As a strategy game, you must tailor your tactics to the terrain and objectives at hand. Will you push straight for the enemy’s hear to deal a focused, crushing blow? Will you hold the line and bleed the enemy dry?
Or perhaps, in a desperate situation, kill the enemy army at the cost of your heart’s HP and control of the map? That last one is more viable than the writer makes it sound, so here are some thoughts about battle planning.
Earlygame Map Control
Early in the game, as much as Lippy reminds you to save up for stronger monsters, it might be a better idea to get a couple of cheap Phobies (preferably fast movers) immediately into the field. One big advantage cheaper Phobies have over more expensive ones: More Phobies makes for a greater map presence. Being able to quickly take positions in and around the Panic Points and deny them to the enemy can put the pressure on your opponent as their Heart starts taking damage every turn.
Afterwards, while your opponent scrambles to try and push you out, you can bring out your heavy hitters to ensure those points stay in your control until your opponent dies, or to push your advantage more aggressively and make their Phobies die.
Sending out your cheap Phobies late in the game generally won’t work too well, if the enemy has stronger ones already in the field in numbers. Just remember that you can only have 5 Phobies in the field at any given time, so having 5 single key Phobies in the field will cause problems if the enemy starts sending out stronger ones which they can’t counter.
Surprise Heart Attack
Another tactic that you have to be wary of is enemy players trying to go around the main battle area to hit your Heart from a difficult to reach position. It is very easy to hyperfocus on one spot in the map where all the action is happening. Meanwhile the enemy sneaks a Murder Bat, Jar Cannon or any other long range or flying unit around to hit your Heart as your main army holds the line in a contested Panic Point.
Or if you’re really prone to tunnel vision, half their dang army!. Keep an eye out for such attacks, and look for opportunities to do it yourself, such as your enemy focusing all their Phobies on one side of the map.
If they don’t spot it in time, you’ll have done damage to their Heart while forcing them to split their group apart or waste Keys on an impromptu interception unit, preventing them from summoning something powerful in the longer term. Then you either hit their Heart harder, or take the Panic Points as the defenders scramble to protect their exposed rear.
Maybe you had your plan all figured out and you wanna stick to it no matter what. Too bad, one of the scariest strategists in history, Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, had this to say: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” You should always be ready to change your plan in case the enemy comes up with a counter.
Set up a thick defensive line using Grave Stone’s statues and several Phobies? Eratic can force you to scatter or die. Have an army of melee Phobies rolling in and killing the enemy’s ranged units? Well, now you can’t kite that Cerberus they just pulled out. Then you pull out your own ranged units to kill Cerberus.
They fight, you counter, they counter back, ad infinitum until you’re out of keys. Taking opportunities or forcing your opponent to either commit to moves that will be detrimental to them, or doing moves that force the enemy to pick between a bad choice and a worse choice is the closest thing to a good reliable plan you can get.
There are several types of tiles you’ll make use of in the map, apart from basic tiles. Knowing how to use them will generally help you formulate a plan to scare your opponent’s Heart to pieces.
First are Panic Points, marked by an X on the map. These are your main objective, to be treated similarly to control points in other strategy war games. Controlling them deals 200 damage to the enemy Heart every turn, and subtracts 200 from the damage dealt if you control some of them but the enemy controls more.
If the enemy has 2 Panic Points, they should deal 400 damage to your heart if you have none, but if you have one Panic Point, then the enemy will only deal 200 damage to your heart each turn.
Next are Obstacles. They simply block the way, preventing land Phobies and direct attacks from going through. Flying Phobies can land on them directly and fly past them, tunneling Phobies can dig past them but not stop on them, and Phobies with arcing shot attacks can fire over them. While direct and melee attacks cannot go past Obstacles, they CAN land on them, so they offer no protection to Flying Phobies directly on top, so don’t even think of using Murder Bat to cheese people with Obstacles.
They’re a lot more important than they look: The choke points they create will usually dictate the flow of a battle, and while they can hinder attackers by forcing them to take long routes, they’re great for defenders if they have ranged Phobies with lobbing attacks.
Then you have Stim Pads. Marked by an electrical hazard sign, it’s easy to mistake them for a stage hazard, but they actually buff any Phobies’ attack power standing directly over them. The primary way players take advantage of them is to stick ranged artillery Phobies like Jar Cannon on top and have them lob projectiles at any enemy within range.
Beware though: In most maps, they’re not only placed in areas that make for good sniper positions for shooting Panic Points, they’re also often placed next to your Heart! They normally double as artillery posts for the defending player, but can be turned against them easily if the attackers plonk a melee Phobie on top (or if it isn’t next to the Heart, their own ranged Phobie) and use them to rip the defender’s Heart to pieces.
Next up is the writer’s least favorite tile, Lava tiles. Lava tiles are floor hazards that damage any Phobie standing on them at the end of a turn for 205 damage, at a total of 410 since they get hurt at the end of your opponent’s turn too.
The writer specifically dislikes these not because they’re dangerous, but actually the opposite: They only damage at the end of a turn, and they provide no obstruction to movement, meaning a particularly aggressive player can simply waltz over them and into your Panic Points.
They can’t even stop slow movers like Eratic and Cerberus, since they can move two tiles per turn if they use up all their action points. That being said, 400 damage is prerrty serious if you ARE forced to sit on one, though sometimes it may be worth it on a bulkier Phobie if it means snagging a kill.
Worst of all, you can’t use Grave Stone to plonk statues on top of them, so they’re a perpetually open entry point for the enemy! Don’t rely on them too much for defending your Panic Points, and make sure you have Phobies ready to intercept any enemies that may get past such tiles. Just watch out for Lava if your opponent is fielding Phobies thay have knockback specials.
Last but not least, Healing Spas. Healing spas can be a lifesaver especially if your opponent enjoys using debuff-causing Phobies like Sheeping Gas. Healing Spas heal (or repair in the case of Mechanical Phobies) any non-Undead Phobie standing on them, and removes any debuffs they’re currently suffering from.
Often, Healing Spas are placed far back into the rear in such a way that you can only use them as a retreat point, but some maps have them placed in a chokepoint: Having a hard-hitting Phobie sit on one can lock that route down for a while, assuming they have enough max HP to survive at least 2 action points worth of your average Phobie’s attacks, usually something in the 1200+ HP range.
There are three different game modes. Normal games have a 2 day time limit and no turn timer. Arena games have a turn timer and can’t be left until you win or lose. Challenge mode is basically a puzzle solving mode meant to teach you the use of various Phobies you might encounter in the game.
If you press the Play button, you’ll be taken to a perfectly normal game. You have no time limit every turn, and the match itself has a time limit of three whole days. The objective is to either break the enemy’s Heart or kill the enemy team and make them run out of keys. Breaking the enemy’s heart can be done by either capturing Panic Points across the map, attacking the enemy Heart directly, or both.
You’ll normally have upwards to 10 of these games running in the background, making them a great way to learn maps. The slow nature of a match ensures you have time to think of a plan. Not to mention you can play this while busy: Make your move, wash some plates, and check if the enemy countered you while you were away.
Arena Mode is much the same as a normal game, except now you have a time limit every turn and you can’t leave the match mid-way. The pressure is on, but the time limit is long enough that you can think up a plan and redo several moves if you don’t like it. This is a great mode to play if you have time to spare and aren’t busy doing anything else.
Challenge mode is similar to a puzzle where you use what’s given to you to finish a task in a turn or so. You’re given a specific set of monsters to finish a task, whether it be to hit the enemy heart or kill a specific Phobie on the map, or ensure that a specific one of your own Phobies survives the enemy’s turn.
There are also enemies to block your way in the field, and you’ll usually keep an eye out for any Dimensional Phobies in the field: Killing them might save you some action points for whoever got them as they move to their real objective.
And this ends our Phobies beginner’s guide. May this guide help you fight your fears, in as violent a manner as possible, so your fears fear you. If you have additional tips or tricks for the game, feel free to share them in the comments below!