Summary: Yet another digital TCG. This game is not released yet, and currently asking for extra funding. Unlike previously mentioned game, this one does not require funding to be released. Also, it appears that the game is well designed already. Though details are still somewhat lacking. Personally, I see great potential on this game. What do you all think?
Trading Card Game Concern
Digital TCG is certainly an interesting genre, and clearly of my interest. There are many out there. However, the one truly had succeed this point are only handful: Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and may be World of Warcraft TCG.
Personally, when I look at new TCG, I look at three main concepts.
1. Frequency of updates – Optimal frequency seems to me 3-4 months. Clearly, Shadow Era has missed this time frame by quite a bit… Eye of Judgment died off primarily due to this. Carte updates itself almost every month, which seem just too frequent.
2. Complexity – Ideally, I believe the game should be playable with basic mechanics e.g. creatures and direct spells alone. By playable, I don’t mean simply that you can just play game but instead you can even make tournament level deck with these simple concept cards alone. However, limiting to such mechanics only for more advanced users may be too simplistic and users may lose their interest as you may end up seeing every game the same, which defeats the purpose of trading card game. So for such users, give an option to build more sophisticated decks with more deeper strategy using additional card types e.g. Planeswalker, Territory/Zones, Instant, Formation etc.
3. Cost- Now if you look at above 2 alone, you may think Magic the Gathering is ideal TCG, which sort of is and therefore it is gold standard of TCG. However, there is a huge issue (at least personally). The issue to me is its price. If we want to complete a set, it cost ~$400-$500. This is even true on digital version of Magic. The release is every 3 months. Now this is just to keep up with newer cards. Since Magic has been out so many years already, if we want to truly complete entire card collection, the price is astronomical.
Personally, completing a set with ~$100 is reasonable especially if it is releasing 3-4 months. This is equivalent of buying couple video games every 3-4 months. And of course, if you don’t need to complete a set, it is much cheaper.
Another part of pricing issue with MtG is there are too many cards that are limited so you can only get those card on certain events. Of course you can buy them on ebay, but the price can be high (to me for no reason). So all cards should be achievable by anyone (without outrageous price).
4. Balance – This is somewhat related to #1 and #2, but in an ideal world all cards should have its own place. Too frequent update, can result in loss of this easily. In Magic, many of new cards are inferior to previously released or sometime even current set card by almost every aspect. So essentially, I feel like those cards are nothing but placeholder to meet set card number requirement i.e. 200 cards/set.
General Game Information
Release Date: Feb 2013 (Beta testing starting soon if you donate)
Cost: Able to play free and possibly even complete entire set. What’s called super booster will likely cost $5.
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
In game trading: Yes
Single player mode: Yes
How Infinity Wars attempt to solve these issues?
So why did I bring these today? Because at least on their site, Infinity Wars seem to address these issues specifically (somewhat).
1. Set frequency – Not specifically stated but reportedly has new card(s) released every week. Hope this won’t get too overwhelming. Again, as I stated above forcing or attempting to keep up with frequent card release may result in useless card. In addition, balancing small batch of cards to existing set is more chaotic (just as in Shadow Era).
Hardcore Strategy – Most digital trading card games have oversimplified and gone all mainstream with their game mechanics. We’ve done the opposite and increased strategic depth by including positioning, yet allowing unlimited cards on field.
If you look at their quick play video, you can see the game has several interesting concepts that has potential to add strategy depth. E.g. Location card, separation of attack vs. defend zone, commander cards. Simple concept, but potential to go dive in deep individually.
Free to Play – You could eventually acquire every card in-game by buying packets using earned currency, as long as you can keep up with our development team that is tasked with creating new ongoing content. This is the good free to play, no “energy gates” or “exclusive to buying with real world cash” cards.
Clearly, I would not count on completing entire set with paying $0. But giving reasonable option definitely attract some people. I don’t know what’s the ideal time, but as I mentioned above $100 for entire set is reasonable in my opinion, and Shadow Era actually achieves this. Now a days, good games usually have play value of 40-50 hours. So 100-200 hours to get entire set for free may be reasonable i.e. over the course of 3-4 months, you need to play 30-50 hours/months to complete the set.
4. Balance – This is something you can only tell after game get launched.
Very interesting concept and I actually see a huge potential. Shadow Era has very unilateral feel. You do your move and wait until your opponent complete his. This had its own benefit compared to Magic the Gathering where instants give great interactive feel but beginners feel more confused, and digital game also feel become somewhat annoying to hit cancel after each move as majority of time, you won’t really do anything. This simultaneous play concept is in theory gives the best of both world. You never have to wait your opponent. You are speculating what other will do, and make a move based on it. What Infinity Ward people call “bluff”, and what I call “speculative counter play.” As I have never played game with this mode, it is hard to predict exactly how it turns out, but on paper it is phenomenal concept.
Single Player Campaign/Quest
TCG’s campaign or quest had never been as good as what we as a player can imagine in our head. But nice to have such option. Especially, it is a great way to introduce new player a step by step method to learn new TCG. If we can achieve new cards through these, it is great way to spend time with a game when Wifi is not available.
Background story and setting of the game is pretty important. This is what determines the feel of game. What I really like about Infinity Wars is that it is revolving based on the concept of parallel world. Similar to Magic the Gathering “Planes – Multiuniverse.” Because of this, it already has factions of mecha, vampires, human, magicians, monsters etc. And in the future, it is easy to create other faction like one for Samurai.
Lore – The Cult of Verore delves deep into black magic, constantly perfecting their spells of death. It was they who opened the Hellmouth, unleashing the demons into Reish and covering their world in darkness. A corrupted Aleta, the leader of the Verore, cares little.
Mechanics – The Cult focuses on character removal abilities, they are the masters of making things die. Sitting from the support zone, their unlimited character – the Verore Death Watchers – become stronger with each enemy that goes to the grave, until they are able to destroy the opposing player from the power they fed off. However, if their kill spells are successfully dodged by being moved into the support zone by a skilled player, the Verore can find themselves overwhelmed by their enemies.
Infinity Ward creators seem to put emphasis on this. Personally, this is the least interesting part of the game. Animation in digital game is great concept but simple animated JPG or GIF adds only so much. In fact, almost nothing to feeling of the game. The best animated TCG is Eye of Judgment in my opinion but providing that level of quality certainly requires tons of resource, and probably return from it is minimal in the world of TCG as most players play the game not for animated graphics.
This may be yet just another digital TCG with great concept but may not achieve its aspiration. I am not in alpha nor beta group, so I won’t be able to tell exactly how the game plays until the release, which is February 2013. But if any of you here, end up signing up for beta (have to donate at least $25), please let us know what you think the game is. Because I am certainly interested on this, and in fact this is top on my radar as of today.