I’ve never spent considerable time with a collectible card game, I tried Hearthstone earlier this year after seeing everyone rave about it for so long, and I didn’t get the attraction. I’m not going to proclaim that The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the new CCG set in the Scrolls universe is going to keep me playing for months on end, but it looks fun, to a newcomer at least.
As a well versed player of digital CCG’s Faeria is a game that instantly feels familiar to me. Upon launching the game up for the first time I find myself looking at the cards and even before I play my first game everything makes sense in terms of understanding the mechanics of the cards, which although under different names are shared with other digital CCG’s I’ve played in the past. What’s different about Faeria is the use of an environmental board on which the cards in your collection can be played and can move around before entering combat. This simple addition adds a whole new level of tactical thought to a game which already has all the layers of a normal digital card game. The combination works so well that I found myself sinking 4 hours a day over the first weekend of playing.
A typical game starts with an empty board and hexagonal shaped ocean pieces on which you place your land. Depending on which faction you build your deck from you can either place mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, neutral land called prairies, or a combination of any and all of these types. You can then place your creature cards onto these lands. Your creatures can only be placed on your own lands although they can be moved onto opponent lands after they have been on the board for 1 turn or more.
From here it’s basically a game of chess with your creatures facing up against your opponents. It’s important to note there are also four Faeria wells at the corners of the board. Faeria lets you use your cards and abilities and controlling these wells can sometimes be critical to winning either long games where your opponent will run out of Faeria if not managed properly, or rush games where you will be placing a lot of creatures and using a lot of event (special ability) cards within the first few turns.
Matching your card choice to your play style is also a large factor of success and it’s important to know what all your cards abilities are and how you can best play them. This of course takes time experimenting and refining your deck when you think something’s not quite right, or not exactly how you want it to be. Whether you play defensive, rush, or go for a deck themed around a particular feature like ranged combat or a focus on efficient trades it’s important to have a game plan.
Once you’ve had a good look at the cards and have drafted a deck you’re happy with, it’s time to get into the thick of the action, and there’s a few choices of game types to be made. Firstly you should be focusing your time in solo mode, where you unlock all of the codex cards (basic game cards) by defeating AI opponents from each of the factions; water, desert, forest and mountain. Once you have done this and refined you deck with any of the new cards you should head into battle mode. Here you can play against other real players in ranked or un-ranked play. Un-ranked is a good way to test new or experimental decks you have been creating, while ranked mode, going from 25-1 and then onto God rank is the ultimate test of your deck crafting and playing skills and stands as a mark of your commitment and skill with the game. Pandora is another mode players of CCG’s might also be familiar with and is also known in other games as draft mode, or arena. This has yet to be implemented in Faeria but is very near and from what I’ve heard will work much in the same way that it does in other games.
As you gain ranks and level your character there are certain awards that can be picked up. Gold for buying booster packs, card crafting material and avatar pictures. There is also a shop in which you can buy all these things and booster packs, but the good thing about Faeria is that in this early stage with not too many cards it’s strikes me as not very pay-to-win, which is of course a great thing. As the game progresses (as with all CCG’s) the struggle will be in keeping up with all these new cards and the change of the meta game towards these cards. That moment is not upon us yet and if you wish to get into Faeria I would say get in early and try to keep on top of the cards as much as you can.
At the moment Faeria costs £17.99 on Steam and with this you get 20 booster packs, 10 entries in to Pandora mode when it becomes available and exclusive aesthetic item for your god. Eventually it will be free-to-play but then the bonus for supporting development during early access will be gone. Assuming that Pandora entry is about 100 gold and ignoring the exclusive avatar items, this would have cost you 3000 in game gold, which takes while to farm though quests, so to get this quick boost as soon as you start the game feels worthwhile to me.
The Good and the Bad of Faeria
So you’ve probably heard enough about the in’s and out’s of Faeria to decide whether it’s your kind of game or not, but as a whole is the game worth playing or not? Let’s start with the positives.
Positives – The beautiful art style, familiar feel, smooth gameplay, the fact that it’s not pay-to-win, is easy to pick up and hard to master and lacks in RNG compared to other CCG’s are all great but fairly small reasons why you should play this game. The main three points for me are that: 1 – Faeria already has a great community of players who are all willing to help you understand the game and craft better decks and can chat to you thanks to the forum link you find in game. 2 – Faeria has a uniqueness about it in that it has an almost board game feel but it actually a CCG. The mix of evolving environmental board and chess game of your cards on this board is brilliant. 3 – Faeria even in this Early Access stage receives regular updates to balance the cards that people are playing every day. This is a great way to keep the community feeling in touch with the game and the changes that are happening whilst also receiving all the normal bug fixing and so on you would expect for a game in Early Aceess.
Negatives – Considering this game has only just entered early access on Steam there are actually very little negatives about it. This is probably in part down to the community and the open communication the developers have with the community, allowing them to suggest feedback and directly send screenshots or reports of bugs to a live developer and a team of moderators. However in the spirit of fairness I feel it would be unjust if I didn’t mention the minor negatives I have found with the game so far. 1 – There is a running battle log at the side of the screen, this is helpful but only has a history of a few turns. It would be nice to be able to scroll down this list and see what happened previously as occasionally your opponents turn can be comprised of several different moves, attacks and spells and the log quite often doesn’t even go back a full turn. It could also do with a little more explanation. Sure a creature attacked, but who did it attack? Quite often the target of spells and attacks are not shown. 2 – When opening booster packs and finding new cards, there is no indication of where these new cards are when you go back to the drafting stage. It would be nice if there was some kind of highlight that showed where these were for new players who were not acquainted with all of the games cards yet. 3 – There is currently no player interaction while in game. No emotes, no chat between friends, nothing. While some players may enjoy the silence it would be nice to have the option to chat to friends if you wanted. 4 – As the player base of Faeria is just taking off, matchmaking can be a bit unfair at times. You can be placed with an opponent five ranks above or below you, or even face the same opponent twice in a row. I assume this is because of the smaller player base and I’m sure it will be rectified in due course. It’s not like it happens all the time anyway!
If your interested in checking out Faeria further I’ve included a gameplay video below where I detail a couple of strategies for playing and talk about some other aspects of the game.
Faeria can be purchased for £17.99 on Steam, but will become free-to-play in September.
Back in January I gave my favourable first impressions on Hearthstone’s closed beta phase. Now that open beta is in full effect and streams of new players are experiencing their first foray into Hearthstone I thought it was high time for some more content and some further insight into the game. For this article I will be focussing on the three types of gameplay found within Hearthstone; Ranked, Casual and Arena. I will briefly cover what you should expect to achieve in each game type along with some basic tactics, playstyles, deck lists and a video of my attempts at each area.
Casual mode is the first game type that any player should acquaint themselves with. Here is where you unlock the heroes for each class and where all of the basic cards can be collected by advancing each class to level 10. Casual mode itself consists of two game types; The first against scalable AI of your choosing and the second against a live opponent in unranked play.
Playing against the scalable AI is a great way to introduce yourself to all the heroes and get to grips with how their various unique cards and abilities work without unsettling yourself too much. Once you unlock a few heroes it’s a good idea to pick one or two that you feel more comfortable playing and stick with them until you’ve really got the basics of the game nailed down.
Once you’ve built up some knowledge of your class by playing the AI, and have reached at least level 10, you can begin to construct your first deck, which is always a hard thing to do. You’ll have a few cards that you know work well with your playstyle and a few that are random picks. The great thing is that you can experiment and change your deck around as you gain more experience and more of an idea of what you want to do with your cards on each turn. There are also various deck guides that explain what the best cards are and how to use them effectively.
Below I have posted a video of a Bloodlust/Windfury Shaman deck I created and tested out in unranked mode. The deck is not perfect by any means but the general idea is there and as I’m playing casual the win ratio is likely to be higher which is handy for completing those daily quests and earning a bit of extra gold.
The general idea of the above deck is to build up as many minions on the board as you can, remove your opponents taunts and then wait for the opportune moment to use Bloodlust and then Windfury on your highest damage minion. This tactic often results in one turn kills but is vulnerable to rush and taunt heavy decks. A link to the deck list can be found here.
Ranked gameplay is generally considered as Hardcore mode within Hearthstone as this is where the serious players go to show off decks they have honed to perfection after hours of trial and error and many changes to their cards. Make no mistake there will always be gimmick decks and players who play inefficiently with their cards, but these you will usually find languishing around the bottom of the leagues.
If you’re serious about wanting to advance through the ranks and become a better player you need to be flexible with your hero class, flexible with your play styles and above all, knowledgeable. I would suggest checking out a couple of the pro players YouTube channels or official websites as these are often crammed with useful tips and examples of gameplay techniques that can help you better understand the mechanics of the game. A prime examples of someone to watch is none other than Hearthstone’s first professional player Trump. His Twitch channel, on which he regularly streams can be found here and his arena tier list here.
Below I have included a video of my attempts at ranked gameplay with a control mage deck. While I succeed at three out of the four games, it’s fair to say that the victories are far from the walkover that you would expect from unranked gameplay.
The goal of the above deck is efficient trades, control and flexibility and can be quite aggressive especially if you manage a turn one mana worm followed by a few spells. It can work equally well as a control deck however, as the high health minions coupled with spells and the mage’s hero power make for some efficient trades. As you can see from watching the video above the games are a lot closer and it’s often the case that just one wrong move can cost you the win later on in the game.
Arena is where most of the fun is to be had (that is when you have a spare 150g to enter) and is also where you can potentially maximise the use of your gold. To explain that a little better, buying a pack of cards costs you 100g, whilst entry to the arena costs 150g. The rewards from arena if you win enough games can be around two packs of cards plus 200g and the minimum reward one pack of cards. So if you think your skills are up to the test, paying the initial extra 50g can make things a lot more worthwhile in the long run.
The idea of arena is that you play to either a maximum of twelve wins or three losses, which ever comes first. Depending on the amount of wins at the end of your run, your reward will differ. You use the same deck of 30 cards for your whole run and these are chosen at random just before you start your first game. Unlike ranked or casual gameplay, in arena all of the games cards have a random chance of being available for you to choose putting players on more even grounds in the respect that a new player would have just as much random chance at getting good cards as a veteran.
Below I have included a two part video of me creating and playing an arena deck. If you click through to YouTube on the first video I have included in the description, my reasoning behind choosing the cards that I did.
Arena runs can vary dramatically in how they are played out as sometimes you will get a class you don’t play very often, or just not have very good cards. Other times things can go in your favour. Either way it’s good to learn which general cards are efficient to play in arena and try to stick to these with class specific cards on top. It’s a bad idea to try and select cards that would work with a gimmick deck such as a murloc rush down deck as what you will often find is one or two murloc cards showing up and then none for the rest of the deck.