Bazooka Tango — a gaming studio founded by former Rockstar and Riot developers — raised $5 million in a funding round led by BITKRAFT Ventures. The proceeds will be put toward Shardbound, the upcoming immersive multiplayer game that combines trading card game (TCG) elements, tactical maneuvers and digital collectibles.
The company was founded in 2019 by Bo Daly and Stephan Sherman, veterans in the AAA gaming industry who are the minds behind Vainglory, a multiplayer online battle arena game. Vainglory was developed and published by Super Evil Megacorp, Daly and Sherman’s previous gaming venture.
Some of you may recognize the Shardbound title; it was started initially by Spiritwalk Games in 2015, yet nothing came of it. Bazooka Tango is reviving the game, bringing new features that players may enjoy. Shardbound was developed in collaboration with web3 publisher Immutable.
Essentially, Shardbound is as if Hearthstone married Final Fantasy Tactics. Set on a fantasy island levitating above Earth, players face off against opposing armies, using their deck of cards to cast spells and summon minions. Players can also collect achievement and login rewards such as weapons and loot boxes.
Characters (a.k.a. commanders) move around a hexagonal battlefield and must navigate both low and high-ground terrain, plus boulders to hide behind. They can move up to three spaces per round and perform melee attacks against enemies adjacent to them or range attacks to any enemy in line of sight.
There’s also a “Super Meter,” which fills up as a player trades damage. Once complete, they can deal six damage to seven surrounding tiles, devastatingly affecting nearby opponents. (Be careful not to hurt allies, though.)
Players select from five types of commanders.
- Wayfinders: equipped with glowing golden wings, shields and healing powers.
- Steelsingers: destructive geniuses who build and operate “Chromia-burning” technology.
- Landshapers: harnesses the ability to manipulate stone, create fire and reshape entire bodies of land.
- Fatekeepers: chaotic and powerful beings who can bend time and space.
- Bloodbinders: use the bodies of their allies and their own to conjure magical abilities.
Each player starts with 50 health and one mana crystal. Mana is needed for playing cards and activating abilities. The maximum number of mana is 10, which players slowly gain each turn. Naturally, whoever runs out of health loses the game.
Additionally, Bazooka Tango introduced “Victory Points,” which players can collect by hitting a “Victory Crystal” that spawns on a player’s second turn. The first person to get 10 victory points wins. This alternate victory condition “opens up a whole new strategic dimension to the gameplay and should make for some edge-of-your-seat spectation,” Daly told us.
Daly also confirmed that Bazooka Tango expects to “broaden the game’s content with seasonal releases.” Other upcoming features include deck building, leaderboards and more extended gameplay.
Since Shardbound is free-to-play, Bazooka Tango’s business model relies on player retention and in-app purchases.
A thousand creators participated in the initial playtest, including @Kripparian, @DanceGaming, @BruceGreene, @YellowPanther, @GAM3Sgg and more. Even Chris Clay, Immutable’s vice president of game design and former Magic: The Gathering Arena game director, took a spin two months ago live on Twitch. With 10,000 hours watched, the playtest garnered over 50,000 pre-registrations.
Bazooka Tango will roll out the public beta later this year. It’ll officially launch in 2024 and be available on Steam, Epic, the Apple Store and Google Play Store. The company has plans to make it accessible via mobile devices; however, for the time being, the company is focusing on the core PC experience.
“We hope to be fully cross-platform within the next year… The most important thing is to be where the gamers are,” Daly said, hinting at an expansion to “other possible channels” in the future.
The recent funding round saw participation from RW3 Ventures, Sfermion, Foresight Ventures and Builder Capital, among others. In addition to developing Shardbound, Bazooka Tango will use the funds to help grow its team of a dozen people and launch three new, in-development titles.
“We’ve got three other in-progress titles in the wings that we’re excited to bring to market once Shardbound has found its footing. This is all happening alongside a major infrastructure project that we’re undertaking to allow us to stitch all these experiences together into something that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. So, there’s a lot for us to do, and we’re extremely grateful to have the resources to chase such an ambitious vision and to build a world-class team to bring it all together,” Daly added.