The other match-3 game I have been playing a bit of lately is Gems of War, also off the Steam discovery queue. It is from the makers of Puzzle Quest, so the basic gameplay is solid and entertaining. This is their F2P game that includes just about every F2P grind and cash shop mechanic I have ever heard of, except for selling “energy.” Its monetization is impressive in its horribleness, particularly in the way it stacks upon itself and creates layers of hiding actual dollar amounts.
From your base screen, there are three +s to buy currencies, although oddly only two of them lead to a shop; the other encourages you to play their asynchronous PvP, which is of course a P2W mess if you want to dive in. The gold pieces currency can be bought directly or in the gems currency, their other one on the main screen, which is cash-only. (You get some amount of all 3 playing the game.) The gems screen leads to another subscreen for the shop, VIP status, which comes with spending money but is not bought separately. The front page also has links to the shop directly and then to treasure chests.
There are five kinds of chests linked to five kinds of keys, bought with the three currencies we have already seen. These chests are the major source of troops, your units for playing the game that have assorted stats and abilities. Chests award random troops of assorted rarities. There are hundreds of troops. This leads us to the grind, buckle in. Troops have three different upgrade screens, one for leveling up with “souls” (another currency, again gained through play or bought with the gem currency or cash); one for “ascension” with the usual mechanic of combining several copies of the troop to boost the rarity of one (note: they missed a F2P hell opportunity here in that you do not need to level up the troops before combining them); and then “traits,” extra skills you can add to troops. Traits involve “traitstones” in six elements times three rarities plus another tier of rarity tied that seems to be tied to the kingdoms of the setting.
Then you can level up your “hero” (you). You can acquire armor for appearance and bonuses, and then there are classes you can unlock by completing each kingdom on the map. Those are leveled up through five more sub-screens, using those souls again, grinding victories (small number), traitstones, leveling up kingdoms, and more victories (large number).
I slipped in “leveling up kingdoms.” Kingdoms are unlocked with gold, with the price of each increasing as you go. Kingdoms are then leveled up with more gold, again increasing with each level. These are then tied to the other grinds because “kingdom power” levels up by leveling up troops associated with that kingdom (and unlocking their traits).
That is about everything, or at least everything I have access to. The cash shop has a few other details, but they are variations on the above list. That is a lot to stack into one game, and now that I see it all at once, I am going to go uninstall.