I’ve Been Playing ‘Solforge’ // I’m a Recovering ‘Magic’ Addict

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Hey Everybody. I haven’t posted in a long time. But, lucky for all you boys and girls I found out that I was getting a new job and that it would mean I could better communicate with my other videogame peoples. Including Franky, who you may remember from our critically acclaimed and much maligned series of three podcasts in the ManDate series.  Now, I can get back to writing about games because my life isn’t a total crap shoot anymore and quite frankly, I am happy to be back. Without further ado, here’s an article about a card game.

So, I encountered ‘Solforge’ from Stoneblade Games because it was designed by the same guys who make ‘Ascension’. ‘Ascension’ is a draft-based physical card game which is different from, but in the same vein as, popular games like Dominion, and 7 Wonders. It was made by some of the people who played and designed Magic: The Gathering stuff.  Blah, blah, blah. Of course I bought into it because I am a total sucker. Then, those same guys who made Ascension, decided to make an online CCG. They put up the offering on Kickstarter and some $430,000 later the game was funded. Once again, because I bite into CCGs with the frequency of finding a child crying in church and the intensity of the final scene in every Breaking Bad episode ever, I was sucked in and backed it. I mean, beta access and some boosters? Sign me up. They did. They did sign me up, because that’s how Kickstarter works.

To proceed in the story and stop meandering about spouting out details you could care less about, I will tell you the things you want to know. Firstly, it is available and has been for a couple of weeks (although it is only in open beta). Secondly, it’s free to  download on Steam. Finally, you obviously want to know what I think cause I’m a guy with a flipping blog!

First of all, I am recovering from a hardcore Magic: The Gathering addiction. I tried recovering by playing ‘Android: Netrunner’ and the ‘Star Wars’ LCG, which by all means are spectacular games, but there is not enough of a support system for those games in terms of players and tournaments. Magic is special to me in weird ways. But it is so damn expensive. I cannot justify spending $400 to compete in a tournament. ‘Solforge’ presents itself in juxtaposition to Magic. You don’t need to pay to play. Boosters are ostensibly free, although they can be bought for outlandish amounts of money. Players earn random cards and booster packs through daily achievements, which, at the time of this writing consist of logging in each day, winning 1 match, and winning 3 matches. As a Magic player, trust me when I say that it isn’t so bad to get that amount in additional cards each day. Sure, people will be buying packs and buying wins online, but if you play everyday the rewards seem pretty substantial. You can’t get into a TCG and want to play super competitively without paying. But the system they have at Stoneblade Games right now is definitely rewarding to the casual player.

Now, about gameplay. I wouldn’t dare bore you with the instructions on how to play. That ain’t my job man. Watch this video if you want to know:

[youtube http://youtu.be/g6c8GHfDJbs]

The game essentially plays like it was invented for modern gamer’s consumption. Games take about 10 minutes. It has mobile compatibility (currently with the iPad, coming later for Android and iPhone). The game is quick to pick up and easy to teach. There is cross-platform capability. It even supports asynchronous play, so you don’t have to play a whole game right away. You can go all Words with Friends and walk away in the waning moments only to make your move in the coming weeks at which point the tension will have been vacuumed out of the entire experience. Hooray! Essentially, ‘Solforge’ is the modern incarnation of the TCG.

The game is also really enjoyable and has tons of hidden depth. Games can be swung by a good decision or a poor misstep. The game also features some sick card design. ‘Solforge’ features a creature leveling mechanic, which sees that each creature have three different levels. All three levels play as different cards with different attack, health, abilities and even increasingly awesome art. The leveling device makes for some really difficult decisions. Do I play this bad low level creature because he becomes dope when he levels fully? Or do I play this sick early creature who will do nothing for me in the late game? So on and so forth. Hence, ‘Solforge’ can be exciting and brutal. Most of the brutality comes in the vicious pacing of the game.

My only complaint is that more so than Magic, ‘Solforge’ is a tempo game. The game is about leveraging your own tempo to gain the upper-hand on your opponent. Unfortunately, this can often mean that a game can be lost in a single turn. When you reach rank 3 and your opponent throws down two fantastic level 3 creatures and you draw into nothing but level 1’s or a level 2 and a hand of level 1’s, then it is as good as over. This makes for some lucky wins and unlucky losses. This whole idea of luck is really a core mechanic in TCG’s though. Pure strategy games are out there and even TCG’s which purely rely on strategy are out there. ‘Solforge’ isn’t that game and it may turn some people off.

Overall, if you’re a fan of TCG’s then totally check it out. Download it on Steam for free or check out the official Solforge website. If you have any questions about the game or my experiences with it go ahead and ask in the comment section. I’d be happy to discuss my opinions. Go Tempys!

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