Blitz mode is a new single and multiplayer battle mode in Halo Wars 2 that changes the way you play the real-time strategy game.

Halo Wars 2 arrives on Windows and Xbox One on February 21, and I had a chance to play Blitz on the Proving Grounds map at a preview event. The Blitz mode introduces frenetic action to the RTS that you normally don’t find in this kind of game.

Most RTS titles start slow. You have to build a base, then build an army, and finally go out and destroy your enemy. With Blitz, you are thrown into battle. In single player Firefight battles, you have to defend three control points against the enemy. But you only have a few units, so you can’t spread your forces out.

(Here’s our story on Halo Wars 2 multiplayer).

The enemy attackers arrive in waves. You have to figure out where they are going, move your units, and set up killing zones to stop the attacks. Over time, the enemies come from multiple directions. The only way you can stay alive is to call in reinforcements at the right time. That’s where the card mechanic comes in. You use the cards to call in more forces and keep the enemy at bay.

Halo Wars 2 Blitz mode has a card mechanic.

Above: Halo Wars 2 Blitz mode has a card mechanic.

Image Credit: Microsoft

You have to be aware of the arrival of energy canisters, which appear on the battlefield every 90 seconds. If you grab the canisters, you get more energy. Your energy also steadily rises during the match.

When you get enough energy, you can then use your cards. At any given time, you have four cards available. You can spend a smaller amount on ground troops, or you can wait until you accumulate more for vehicles or air units.

The card deck adds some split-second urgency to the battle, as you have to pick your units and deploy them in the right place in order to reinforce your forces, which are sure to be overwhelmed at some point as the waves of attackers grow progressively stronger. Defending all three control points at once on the Proving Grounds map proves difficult.

If you deploy the right cards at the right time, you can turn the tide. You get a break in between waves of attackers in single player, so you can use that time to use your cards. But you can play the cards at any time during the battle as your energy levels rise.

Blitz is always touch-and-go, with small numbers of units fighting each other. That means that reinforcements or leader abilities can turn the tide of battle in your direction. Units can be spawned on your own control points or when they are within line-of-sight of your own units. That means you can bring them directly into the fray.

In multiplayer, you can take on a player one-versus-one or engage in two-versus-two. I fought a two-versus-two match. Even with two players, you still can only really guard two out of the three control points. So multiplayer takes a lot of cooperation, and it’s best if you can talk to your partner.

Here’s my first crack at the single player version of Blitz.

And here’s a 2 vs 2 multiplayer battle on Blitz.