Sure, we’ve have online RPGs and online CCGs.  Heck, we’ve even been able to play miniature games online.  But an online collectible miniagure game?  That’s the concept that the makers of the Continuum online game would like to get you to buy into.

In Continuum, players buy booster and starter packs of miniatures, assemble them into squads, which in turn form an individual army.  Players can compete against automated opponents (through a very light quest system) as well as other players in addition to managing their collection (which includes the ability to customize units with equipment and other upgrades that can be purchased through the in-game currency).

A brief aside on the in-game currency, the “element.”  Continuum uses a conversion rate of about 225 elements per dollar spent.  This puts booster packs at $6/pack and starters at $10/pack.  You can buy items individually for US currency or buy elements in bulk and use those to buy new miniatures or upgrades.

So let’s talk about gameplay.  Battles in Continuum take place on an overhead map with minimal terrain features.  Only squads show up on this map, with each squad representing upwards of 15+ miniatures.  In the games I’ve played, I couldn’t see that terrain or facing had any impact on combat itself, so its mostly for strategic level maneuvering of squads.  When two squads encounter each other, the overhead map disappears and the two squads are lined up opposite one another.  From here, individual units can be selected in order to activate their special abilities which can be used to damage individual miniatures on the other team.  The actual combat is determined by selecting one of several combat “modes,” including Attack, Charge, Defend, Hold the Line, Ranged Attack, Ranged Defense and Attack an Individual Unit.  When both players have selected an option, the two choices are compared and one side is declared to have the advantage based on a rock-paper-scissors style algorithm.  The actual attacks and damage are handled by the program itself, making combat fairly hands off.

This is a hard game to recommend – its not really a CMG.  The tactical movement, has some flavor of a miniature game, but the highly abstracted combat shatters the feeling of a give and take pitched battle that most miniature games bring to the table.  In a lot of ways, this is a light-weight game for the hobby gaming crowd, not unlike WebKinz or NeoPets is aimed at smaller children.  There are a number of community features, a comic driving the storyline and lots of options for customizing and growing your miniatures over time.  If you’re looking for a light game with a lot of options for customizing your forces without the involvement of a full tactical game, then Continuum is probably for you.