Halo Wars 2 is gearing up to host its second open beta but, this time around, you won't be playing the game's standard RTS offerings. Instead, you'll have access to the game's newly announced Blizt card-based mode, and the whole thing goes live later this month.

The Blitz multiplayer beta is set to run from Jan. 20-30, giving players an opportunity to try out the latest mode to be added to Halo Wars 2. But while you'll be ordering around troops and vehicles in the standard game modes, Bliz lets players build decks of cards and test their best strategies against enemies in 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 modes. These kinds of games are becoming more and more popular on the tabletop, so it's cool to see something like this getting plugged into Halo Wars 2 and, even better, opened up for a test drive on the Xbox One and PC later this month.

It's hard to believe, but the original HW2 beta kicked off over the summer, so it's been quite a few months since we last saw the game in action. This beta for the card game will be a good way to cap off January, with only a month left to wait before the full game's launch on Feb. 21. As is often the case in betas, none of your progress will actually make it over into the final game. However, the developers are offering a nice little bonus, giving players a free pack of in-game cards at launch just for booting up the beta, and another free pack for completing just one match. Reading between the lines a bit here, we imagine that those card packs will be available for real world money after launch, so it's certainly not a bad perk just for trying the mode out. You can check out the trailer for the beta below.

Unless they're just mixing footage from the standard game mode with the Blitz cards, it looks like you'll get to see the battle wage on in real-time as you play cards that affect what's happening. That's certainly a step up from the standard animations of similar card-based strategy games. And based on the official announcement, it sounds like you'll want to keep the game's location and settings in mind while setting up your decks. For instance, the beta will only be set on the "Proving Grounds" map, so we expect more to be announced eventually. And, again, the Blitz battles will be available for competing teams of up to three players, even in the beta.

As a final nice touch, every card available in the game at launch will be present in the beta, so that should help the team figure out any final balancing issues that need to occur.

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