This is a game one of my Japanese blog visitor asked me to review. The game is categorized as dCCG but with board element i.e. casted cards are reflected as a piece on the chess board. The game is created by the team who has past track record of creating a game called, Pox Nora. Due to non-compete agreement, these guys could not release this game until now. This game is similar to the recently successful kickstarter project, Duelyst. Also, this type of game reminds me Faeria. So what is my first impression after going through half an hour of tutorial?
Genre: digital CCG/strategy
Platform: Currently on Mac and PC with steam support. Plans for iOS and Android support.
Game status: Open beta
If your device is not included here, there is no reason to even read on. So it is important what platform the game supports. Although currently restricted to desktop as with many others, the game will be supporting iOS and Android in the future.
Easy click navigation of the game seems to have not much issue when ported to the touch devices. Perhaps it is due to my Surface Pro tablet (first version) having poor keyboard touch, and not getting used with these types of game, I am having a bit difficulty controlling my actions during the actual play.
There is no special navigation screen e.g. panoramic view of Forgotten Myths or HEX. I am still waiting for a game that has Yu Gi Oh PSP like 2D open world interface, but since there is no such a game out there, I say this game meets the current standard of dTCG/dCCG.
Art is one of the critical component of the trading or collectible card game. Poor art form does not even catch initial attention.
The game uses animated card for everything in the game e.g. infinity wars. Some of the arts look very cool but others seem just okay.
Overall, I love the art for the ones that they had put effort and quality.
In game art are good as well for this type of game with many action animations.
Ease of learning/Tutorial
Tutorial in this game is succinct. The game is somewhat complex especially for those who are not used to with tactical CCG/TCG.
I felt like the tutorial covered things well in a specific order, isolating different mechanics of the game for ease of learning.
Although general tutorial is decent i.e. just like any other games, the game currently lack AI mode; therefore, it is difficult to practice full game play.
Depth of Strategy
For hardcore gamer, I believe this is the most important part. Looking at the general design of the game, I can see this game to have a lots of depth and variation in game play with many aspect of game can be expanded with future expansions. Let’s take a look at some of the core pieces.
1. Resource System
Despite it is tactical game using a board, this game has a element of resource system building.
In the general categorization, this game has interesting mixture of resource system; where I would consider the game has both card based resource system element and somewhat standard resource system for tactical game, which I would call occupancy based resource system (OBRS).
The resources in this game are generated by what’s called mine, which both players start with 5 at the beginning. But there are cards that can change your mine to generate more than 1 resource. Also, there is a card that can equip the troop to generate resource at the mining phase i.e. beginning of the player’s turn. Basically, the game uses cards to increase resource generation.
Furthermore, all three factions/colors have their own resource pile i.e. in the future I am sure they will release option of multicolor card.
Now the OBRS part allows players to advance their troops to the tile where there are mines that are not yet owned by either player. Troops can make these into other mine of your own. This means the opposite can be true i.e. you can destroy or take away opponent’s mine and resulting in decreased resource generation.
Resource Screw/Flood Solution
The game has very interesting way of dealing with the infamous resource screw/flood situations.
For the resource screw, one can use troops to conquer the additional mine title even when you don’t draw those card that increases your mine’s power to generate more than 1 resource.
More interesting part is how this game handles resource flood. The left over resource will be banked/added to the hero’s power e.g. analogous to the HEX charge power or Shadow Era’s shadow energy. The hero’s power can be used to activate hero’s special ability but no only that it can transcend/level up the hero when it reaches to 10. So basically, some may select purposely not spend resource.
2. Card Types
As I always state this, generally more card types more potential for future expansion and strategy. Here are currently existing card types in this game.
Standard for dTCG/dCCG is of course present. But because of the board element, these card has extra stat such as attack range; how many titles it can move.
These card are essentially equipment card for your troop or creature.
Typical one turn, immediately effective cards.
This is like a constant in HEX. Basically these are non-soldier card that occupies battle field tile and affects the game each turn.
Each deck will have one hero and they can transcend, and have a special ability that can be activated multiple times during the game. The hero themselves can attack.
Resource card e.g. Shard card in HEX, Land card in Magic etc equivalent. Again, the presence of this type of card allows future expansion of its own.
3. Purely Turn Based System
One thing that the game is lacking from trading card game perspective is dynamic interaction i.e. you don’t have a way to intercept or interrupt during opponent’s turn; however, considering tactical strategy game with board element, I guess this is standard.
Although adding counter mechanics would be interesting in this game as other parts seems to be very robust and has potential to evolve so much, just covering this last missing piece it has everything.
4. Unicolor restriction
Currently, choosing hero limits the choice of card i.e. you cannot mix different colors, based on how resources are represented on the game play screen, I believe it would not be a surprise that future expansion would add multicolor support though not sure that means every card can be added to any deck or only multicolor card and corresponding color can be mixed. The potential is there.
The game has lots of potential to expand for each component of the game. Therefore the potential for the depth of the game is at its highest.
There are free cards/golds you can obtain, but many comments on the steam etc. says this game is pay 2 win model. This is always hard to assess as in theory majority of decent dTCG/dCCG are pay 2 win in someway. Any game that is completely free and equal for everyone usually has some problem; otherwise, how would the developer makes money?
The question is how much money you need to spend. When the game does not have a major public support like Hearthstone, Magic, it is safe to assume any money you put into the game have the chance of losing i.e. if server shuts down you have nothing left.
At the quick glance, the freebies in this game seem to be not much i.e. someone who buys cards with money certainly seem to get advantage. However, I have not spent enough time on this game to assess the validity of such hypothesis. So today, I will not score this section.
The quests in this game are not quests in the sense of RPG. For example, completing tutorial is one quest. Adding a card to the deck is another. Playing quick match (PvP), winning so many matches on PvP etc. are also quests.
Furthermore, there is no AI battle. So from a single player point of view, this game has no true support.
However, on the official site, there is a statement about single campaign mode; therefore, it has to be still under the development.
PvP centric game but interesting part is it has a mode that allows asynchronous play i.e. one can make a move, and the other player can follow back several hours later. This is an advantage of purely turn based dTCG/dCCG, and this game indeed supports it.
There is no multiplayer (>2) support.
Each card appears to have some story. I have not paid attention to the detail, but briefly looking at it, the game has elf, dwarf, demon, dragon etc. to cover different creatures. The presentation of the story however is lacking as there is no PvE. Perhaps, someone who gets really into this game would have a good time reading individual card stories, but for now I will refrain from rating this section as well.
The game has a plan for constant future expansion though I am uncertain how often and how many cards.
As of right now, the game is only in English.
The game has a huge potential and having the field expert making a game similar to its predecessor, I think if this is a type of digital card game you like to play, it should not be passed without playing.
The player community might not be the biggest at the moment, but with appropriate price settin, constant refreshment, and release of mobile versions, this game has better chance of surviving than some of the other Indy company based digital card game next a few years.
The lack of detail cost analysis, game balance hinders for me to make overall scoring here. Also, the game seems to be quite slow paced especially there is small but some bonus for ending each turn for each player i.e. players have some reason to prolong the game.
In general; however, I believe this game has a great potential and someone who wants non-conventional dTCG/dCCG, this is certainly a game worth a try. In particular, those of you who though Duelyst were interesting, or liked Faeria, or Pox Nora was your most favorite digital strategy game in the past.