I can’t call myself a card game veteran, but I’m not new to the genre, either. As a teenager, a group of guys I went to school with convinced me to play Yugioh, and in spite of the inherent nerdiness, I fell in love with the art style and the gameplay. Eventually I outgrew Yugioh, choosing instead to dabble briefly with games of Magic, or later Hearthstone, but I couldn’t find a game that I really gelled with. I booted up Faeria skeptically, hoping for a good experience, but not expecting it to be very different from the plethora of card games I’ve tried to love over the years.
A few days later, my afternoons are hostage to booting up the game. I’m hopelessly addicted, but in the happiest kind of way. Faeria takes the best of board and card games alike and combines them in a way that’s engaging, new, and simply fun. Here are some of my initial impressions.
Not A Hearthstone Clone
My initial fear in booting up the game was that it would be too much like Hearthstone. Hearthstone is a great game in its own right, but I’ve tried and failed to love that formula, burning out of the game within weeks at most. Fortunately, Faeria shares only only the most basic tenants of card game strategy with games like Hearthstone. In my first experience with the game, I placed my land casually, and my cards even moreso. I found myself rehashing the old pattern that I use to play Hearthstone: play creatures, make creatures bigger, attack other creatures. Usually this completely lobotomized version of card game strategy serves me pretty well against card game AI, but when my computer opponent built land right up into my face and sent a deluge of monsters my way, I knew I had discovered something unique. Faeria isn’t a clone at all. It’s something entirely new, and entirely amazing. Faeria features all of the basic gameplay features you would expect out of a TCG, but differentiates itself in incredible ways with its use of land.
Faeria’s living board is what sets it apart from other games in the genre, diversifying and deepening the game in a way that few can compete with. The board is the main reason that I become a statue at my computer every afternoon, pretending that I’m craftier than my opponent for lengthy periods of time (usually before losing spectacularly). I haven’t quite figured out how to outmaneuver my opponent on the board, and I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve thrown by letting my opponent summon creatures right near my Orb. The flexibility of the tiles means that every game is different, and, in my case, means that every game I lose is lost in a different way. The Living Board combines the territory battle of the Chinese game of Go with the strategic movement of Final Fantasy Tactics, and it truly makes the game come to life.
Props to whoever runs the style direction for Faeria. The art is gorgeous and whimsical, drawing players into a well-crafted world of unique creatures and battles. I’m not ashamed to admit that I squealed in girly delight at how cute some of the cards were, and while this doesn’t make a good card game, it certainly made me happy. The music is unobtrusive, relaxing, and adventurous all at once, and it was easy to lose myself in hours of gameplay after a long day.
The art direction of these cards really reminds of of one of the main reasons I loved card games growing up: the art. I love to unwrap a pack of cards (digitally or physically), and simply stare at the art for nerdy periods of time, daydreaming about the lore. What’s a Flamesilk Faerie? Why is it so cute? Does it take up residence within the Walking fortress? Does it dance above fields of Prarie Yaks at night? Important questions, folks. I also might be biased because I love cutesy, whimsical things, but I digress.
I would be remiss to forget to mention the potential for a healthy competitive scene in Faeria. The land system adds a dynamic to Faeria that makes it highly viable for serious players looking to focus on an esport. There’s depth here that few other TCGs currently have, and the Faeria team hasn’t neglected to notice that. Integrated tournaments, an official circuit, and a broadcaster mode integrated with Twitch have all been promised, allowing more competitive players a chance to shine.
Faeria is a delight to play. As promised, it’s easy to learn and hard to master, adding complexity and diversity to every game with the Living Board. If you’ve been on the fence about digital card games, or if your current TCGs seem stale of late, give Faeria a try. You won’t regret it.