Faeria’s hybrid card game/board game model holds up well, so long as you’re okay with freemium models
I’d like to begin this review by setting the record straight – I’m not really much of a TCG player. I collected Pokémon cards for their artwork, I never properly managed to learn (or care enough to learn) all of the intricacies of Magic: The Gathering, and my Yu-Gi-Oh! experience goes as far as watching the TV show. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike TCGs, they’re just not really my thing. But, considering how popular card games still are – even more so thanks to platforms like Steam and mobile devices – it was only a matter of time before they caught up to me. So here I finally am, reviewing the online TCG Faeria – and between you and me, it wasn’t actually that bad.
Since trading card games and their ilk have been around for a while, newcomers to the genre often try to bring something to the table that sets them apart form their competition. Usually this seems to come in the form of an intricate, difficult-to-process set of rules that take a long time to learn and make a mockery out of anyone except the best of the best amongst players (although I guess older TCGs are kinda like that too, huh?). Fortunately, Faeria decided to take a different route. Instead of piling special rules onto each card in order to give the game its own unique set of constrictions, Faera opted to add in one simple thing – a board. Surprise! Faera isn’t just a TCG, it’s a strategy board game as well!
Faeria matches are set up with each player on opposite sides of the board, with a (literal) sea of empty panels in between them. Claiming victory in Faeria is easy enough to understand; all you have to do is knock your opponent’s HP down to 0. Actually claiming victory, however, takes a bit more nuance. Since the actual player characters are helplessly rooted their respective side of the board, they must instead rely on their creatures to fight – but that takes a bit of setup.
Summoning creatures requires two things; Faeria (not the game), and land. Faeria is a special source of mana, and is needed to use nearly every card in the game. Faeria is obtained at the beginning of each turn and can also be obtained from the on-board Faeria wells and through use of certain cards, but you’ll almost always find yourself needing more than you have. Because of this, it’s really important that you manage your resources.
In order to summon a creature in Faeria, you’ll also need land. At the beginning of each turn players have the ability to fill in empty tiles on the board with land tiles, though they can only be placed next to player-owned creatures and land. Not surprisingly, all land isn’t created equally. There are five different types of land tiles in Faeria – desert, forest, water, mountain, and normal. Strong creatures often require more land, and players may only summon monsters on player-owned land, so it’s important to place tiles carefully. Alternatively, if you have enough land, you can instead use your “building phase” to draw a card or gain 1 additional Faeria – that way, your turn is never wasted.
Of course, we can’t forget the cards themselves! Each player’s deck is comprised of 30 cards, all of which can be sorted cleanly into two different groups; creatures, and events. Creatures are the player’s main source of dealing damage, both to other players and other monsters. Along with having their own, independent HP and attack values, many creatures have special abilities – ranging anywhere from forcing other creatures to attack them, to giving players free land. Naturally, stronger creatures, and creatures with powerful abilities, come with higher Faeria and land costs, so it’s good to pack your deck with a mixture of creatures in order to adapt to a variety of situations.
Events, on the other hand, are just that – cards that make something happen when played. It’s important to remember that stacking a deck with nothing but creatures won’t get you anywhere – events are just as important. Making a deck with good synergy can be a bit complicated at first, but Faeria makes sure to help you through your learning phase by offering players a variety of pre-made deck builds. These pre-made decks not only work well, but can help you better understand what cards work together – a big help when you finally decide to build a deck of your own.
So, how does one get cards? Well, there are two ways. First, you can buy booster packs with either gold (normal currency), or gems (premium currency). Booster pulls are pretty fair overall, and are going to make up most of your collection. If you’re looking for a specific card, however, you also have the option to craft it. By completing daily missions, and destroying other cards that you don’t need, you can obtain crystals which, in turn, you can use to craft cards. Crystals are kind of hard to come by, making crafting a rather long process, but it makes for a nice backup plan if you really can’t seem to get what you’re looking for… and are also willing to destroy your own collection.
Faeria comes with three different game modes, the first of which is Solo – the game’s single-player mode. Solo allows players to refresh their memories on game basics and face off against AI-controlled opponents, but its main focus is on Mission Packs – special groups of levels for players to take on. Along with standard battles, Mission Packs contain two unique kinds of missions – Puzzles, and Epic Missions. Puzzles present players with pre-set scenarios, requiring them to win the game within a set number of turns (which, as far as I know, is always 1). While short and usually pretty easy, Puzzles provide unique insight on how cards work. Epic Missions, on the other hand, are matches that come with gimmicks. Often times, players will be asked to win under adverse conditions – such as starting out with 1 HP, or having your deck destroyed – while others do things like mess with the board layout. I generally found Mission Packs to be a lot of fun – there were plenty of levels to play, unique and fun challenges, and would often times reward me with card packs or gold. My only gripe was that, after a while, the game started making you use in-game currency to buy more Mission Packs. Curse you, paywall!
Faeria‘s second mode is Battle – a PvP mode featuring both ranked and unranked matches. There really isn’t much else that I can say here aside from “it’s basic PvP”, and that it did what it set out to do nicely. The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that I had to stick to one board. I understand that there’s a “standard layout” for this game, and that’s 100% okay in ranked matches, but having a selection of game boards from which to chose in casual matches would have been pretty fun.
Finally, there’s Pandora. Like with Battle, Pandora is PvP – but this mode comes with a catch. Rather than using your own deck, Pandora allows players to build decks using a special card pool whose contents change each time a player adds a card to their deck. Pandora also features Artifact cards – powerful event cards that require players to fill special Artifact gauge before using them – that can easily change the tide of battle when used correctly. Building a deck in Pandora can offer players a chance to use incredibly rare cards that don’t own, or may not have even seen before, but it requires more strategy than you’d think. It’s easy to become dazzled by the powerful cards available and, when combined with the ever-changing card pool, make building a balanced deck a challenge.
I’d like to wrap things up by talking about the dreaded paywall (dun dun dun)! Faeria, like most online TCGs, is a freemium game. As much as I don’t like freemium models, Faeria‘s wasn’t too bad overall. By completing daily missions and clearing Mission Packs, I was able to pick up new boosters at fairly consistent rates. I did find it a bit off-putting that the game consistently showed me fancy new avatars, orbs, and the like, with ludicrous price tags, and would ask me to click on things that took me out of the game in order to pre-purchase more Faeria content was leaning toward ridiculous, but it honestly could have been a lot worse.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into Faeria, but I ended up having a good time with it. Faeria‘s hybrid TCG/board game combination ended up being surprisingly cohesive and, while playing on the same board over and over got a little dull, managed to stay engaging most of the time. If your TCG of choice is getting a bit stale and you’re looking for something new, Faeria might be worth a try – so long as you’re cool with freemium models.
FINAL VERDICT: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), iOS; Publisher: Abrakam SA ; Developer: Abrakam SA ; Players: 1 – 2 ; Released: March 8, 2017 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: Free
Full Disclosure: HeyPoorPlayer was provided with premium currency (Gems) by the Developer for the purpose of this review.