【Labyrinth CCG】 Kickstarter Pledge ~Take a caution~

I have finally got a little chance to read about this game.  This game has a quite interesting approach and perhaps some potential, but I do also see a few shortcomings.  So let me share what I have found out so far about this game.

Genre

This is a rather unique type of game in digital CCG/dTCG with true mixture of tabletop game and collectible card game.

image_labyrinth1

Visually, basically this game is as gorgeous as it can get.

General Rule

The game is divided into defender side and attacker side.  Attacker side selects 3 heroes and under each hero, there will be 30 cards deck that you create.  So you will have 3 decks.  It looks like selection of your hero will decide what type of card the deck can have.  This sounds analogous to class card restriction in Shadow Era, Hearthstone etc.  The attacker side decks are primarily consists of attack card i.e. deciding what sort of action your hero take.

The defender side choose boss(es) card and create deck for each of them.  It looks like defender side cards are primarily consists of minion card.

It is rather interesting concept and certainly different from standard dTCG/dCCG as attacker and defender have essentially different deck design.

Every card in Labyrinth has two sides.  When raiding other players, you play with the front side of your deck, which represents your Hero and his abilities.

When opponents attack you, they play against the back side of your deck, which represents your dungeon with is bosses, monsters, and trap.

From freerangegames.com/labyrinth/

Based on above statement, it sounds like we won’t need to collect/purchase separate packs or cards whether you are going after defender or attacker play.

PvP but really PvE

So far, I thought the game looks very enticing and appealing, but there seems to be a catch or at least major shortcoming for many players at least in the initial phase of the game.

The defender side sounds like an automated i.e. AI run system.  If you are familiar with what HEX had promised during kickstarter, it is similar to its idea of Keep system.  Player makes deck(s) to defend your keep/dungeon or whatever you call.  Other player can play your dungeon or your keep, but the defending side is really AI that runs the deck.

AI in digital game is very difficult to make especially when it comes to dTCG/dCCG.  HEX for instance promised smartest AI with a designer who is really good at it.  Is it close?  No.  Even to this date, it makes simple mistake that even beginner of the TCG won’t make such as sacrificing a card you just casted or use negative effect on your own card.  Even the TCG gold standard Magic AI is not smart enough.  So that worries me.

But main issue here is basically, creating deck alone is not a true PvP experience.  You are really not playing against other player.  Freerangegames call it asynchronous PvP, which sounds cool, but it’s like LittleBigPlanet or any other game that allow you to create a stage/dungeon and let others play, and that’s all to it in this setting.

Now during an interview with Tinygrimes, there was a mention that developer is working on the Head to Head game mode i.e. true PvP and it is one of the first thing they are considering to add, but won’t be with a release.

Platform

It will be starting on PC/Mac and iOS and Android to follow.  It is not fault of FreeRangeGames but TO FOLLOW statement always makes me worry as it can be indefinite amount of time before release on tablet platform.  So if you are planning to play this on tablet, I won’t count on it.

Kickstarter Value

Despite some potential shortcomings, the game still appear very interesting and definitely quality of the game is already looking the best of the kind.  So should you jump on to the kickstarter despite some concern?

I think it comes down to the value of Kickstarter.

Lack of value retention

Here I am not talking about if the game has a true value of the price.  It can only be determined how popular the game gets, and somewhat unpredictable.  I am talking about even a short, within game market itself.

Some form of auction house or player-to-player trading is on the list of features that we want to add to the game after its initial release. It’s obviously part of the strength of paper CCGs. However, to create that same kind of marketplace in the digital space is a significant undertaking, because security is absolutely critical to its success. In the short term, no marketplace is better than a marketplace prone to fraud or abuse. When we’re ready, we’ll definitely consider it.

From Kickstarter FAQ

So there won’t be immediate trading/auction house capability and it is not yet guaranteed so it means value of cards are really what you have and not any more i.e. don’t expect you can sell your pack or card to get other card you want.

Further more, a pack will cost $1.50 containing merely 5 cards in a game with 300-400 starting cards.  This is a bit exaggeration as the game apparently have front and back and 300-400 are divided into attack/defend side i.e. it is essentially like you get 5 cards for 150-200 cards set in a game with 30 cards deck with 3 copy of each but may still feel relatively expensive especially card you get is what you stuck with.

In other games with trading ability, you can swap around your card to create your desired deck, and perhaps even do so when new sets come out without spending too much additional money after initial investment.  But this game model, the way it is right now, won’t allow that i.e. you need to keep investing in the game with new set if you want to play.

Is Kickstarter a good deal?

But as a player, do you get significant discount?

A pack will cost $1.50.  The easiest to look here is a $500 tier comparing to best deals from HEX TCG Grand King tier.

https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/004/788/354/384759562e54d32671860354bf075510_original.jpg?v=1446064032&w=680&fit=max&auto=format&q=92&s=e553ff53c63dc5cc170b406e9938e031

Here you get 300 packs i.e. $450 value.  So what you get for additional $50 you pay?

You get dungeon loot bonus boost for life on both attacker and defender end, and some alternate art cards.  Sounding very similar to HEX, doesn’t it?

So what is the corresponding piece to the Pro Tier on HEX, which gave life time per week draft ticket $7/week value, which according to the most truly provided a special value/deal for the kickstarter supporters.

Well Labrynth has +5 cards pack/week to gift for life of game.  If you do quick math, it is $7.50/week i.e. again just like HEX draft ticket per week.  This sounds amazing….. BUT a huge catch.

The card packs from this reward must be given to others. This reward is mainly designed for streamers, who benefit the most from having extra packs to give away to encourage subscribers. Of course anyone with lots of friends can benefit too.

So basically, it’s not yours.  You have to give to someone else.

But what about may be giving to someone you know so well such as to your second account?

Creator Free Range Games on November 12

@Rich, the intent of the gifting of the card packs is to make it fun for streamers to give their subscribers rewards that would encourage them to play together, and by extension, friends gifting card packs to other friends to play together is fine. In support of that intent, a backer is welcome to gift 1 card pack per week to the same person, but not gift multiple packs to the same person in a given week.

So maximum you can do is give yourself’s second account 1 pack per week.  Basically, you can get $1.50 x 52 = $78/year value to yourself with $250 tier.  But the main challenge here remains, which is we are uncertain if there will be way to trade/give your second account card back to your first account.

Basically, developer here intention is not allow backer to gain the packs on his own, so don’t expect anything that makes such thing easy to be implemented in this game.

Pack can be opened at anytime with a corresponding set

This is a bear minimum they should have done anyways to protect a minimum value.  Essentially, those 300 packs will reflect when you open for the corresponding set.  I.e. you are not buying 300 packs for set 1.  You can open later when new set is released then the pack is from the set.

In a game that lacks trading, this is bear minimum requirement for this investment.  But one has to remember, you are not gaining anything extra here.  Because in theory you can purchase $1.50 pack when Set 2 is released, and that’s not any different from you buying $1.50 unlabeled pack right now.

So to me, overall value of the Kickstarter is no where near the generosity of HEX despite it does look similar to it at first glance.

Pack Saving

Now you can technically save pack cost right now with kickstarter if you go with lower cost tier.  The best value is $120 tier where you get 150 packs i.e. $0.80/pack.  So it’s basically 47% discount, which is not a bad deal.

Conclusion

Best graphics, and the game can easily evolve to become epidemic.  However, as of now, there are a few potential concern, which include lack of true PvP, unknown date for mobile platform support, and lack of value retention primarily coming from lack of auction house support.

So would you be sorry if you didn’t back it up now?  Perhaps as you may not get those 10% life time loot bonus or 47% discount for pack, but to me those seem to be rather small loss considering potential risk/unknown factor how this game will succeed especially with a lack of trading, you won’t have a way to get even partial value back in an event you no longer want to play the game.

Now all of these are based on my reading i.e. without actually playing game.  So if I got something wrong here, I apologize.  But for now, I think it is best to not go too high on pledge unless you are certain this is the game you like to spend countless hours and know that’s the value you get.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous on November 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I wanted to put the 250 tier for the packs and when I saw that they were to give only I wrote to them and they said that I just have to get a friend to buy the same tier and we could just gift ourselves. Now I see that you wrote about limited to not always be able to give to the same account they are contradictory . Maybe the game looks good but I hope they fail their KS and retry with better tier that will benefit on the long term for. The player like hex guess I’m out to see other games to invest my money

    Reply

    • Posted by houshasen on November 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      I have updated with a comment that was posted by creator on the Kickstarter. Essentially, it sounds like you can give 1 pack/week to the same person. But still you have to find a way to transfer between accounts or you yourself have two accounts.

      Reply

      • Posted by Anonymous on November 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

        Yeah its too bad, i asked them to put up a tier that could give us the packs but they never came back with it. Too bad, they lost alot of support i think because their tier is not so good.

      • Posted by Anonymous on November 22, 2015 at 8:14 am

        Totally agree. If they made that free packs each week for life to owner of account this game would have got multiple times funding goal.

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