It’s Time To Duel!
Collectible Card Games (CCG’s) have always been something I’d had an interest in. Moreso in the past than now, having formerly been a player of both the Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon CCG’s and having attempted to dabble in the likes of Magic: The Gathering.
It’s unsurprising, when you consider the popularity and longevity of CCG’s, that video games would attempt to take advantage of this and the surge of card games (albeit many with a twist) has been quite prominent, with some failures, over the past few years with the likes of Magic: The Gathering, Ancient Summoner, Hearthstone, BattleForge, Eye of Judgement, Scrolls and now we have Infinity Wars.
Infinity Wars takes a more traditional method of CCG, setting you up on a board with specific zones and rules while also offering you a number of different factions that focus on different styles of play. There are seven factions as of now, with two more to come soon due to a partnership with Star Trek. The seven factions available at the moment are Flame Dawn, Genesis Industries, Cult of Veror, Descendants of the Dragon, Sleepers of Avarrach and The Exiles, each offering their own eight match campaign with small story to introduce you to their particular style of play and also the variety of effects that they offer. The two upcoming factions from the Star Trek partnership are Klingon and Federation.
This variety and how it plays is inevitably where any card game makes or breaks itself. Without any shadow of a doubt, Infinity Wars is making itself into a fine card game for all who enjoy that sort of thing. The game board is divided into four distinct zones, those being Command, Support, Assault and Defense. Any cards placed in your Assault zone will clash with those in the enemies Defense, and vice versa. The Command zone is where three of your units, commanders as selected in deck creation, are assets on the field of play but not directly usable until summoned using resource points. The Support zone is a place where specific magic cards that alter the field of battle, as well as other units summoned but not directly put into play, will stay until removed or moved. As well as these zones you have your deck, your hand as well as your graveyard, potentially also cards that can be sent out of play completely for a limited or permanent amount of time.
Of course the field of battle alone isn’t what makes card games the interesting and inherently tactical games that they are, that comes mostly with the cards themselves and how they’re built into a working deck.
It is possible to build a deck around just one faction in Infinity Wars, but the best type of deck is that which uses synergy between two factions of supporting styles to create something special. My current deck, the first version of it shown above, is an amalgamation of the Flaming Dawn and Cult of Verore, using the quick access to a number of low level and dispensable troops from the Dawn that then superpower certain units from the Cult that increase in power as more units die. Small, simple, creations like this can be very effective and lead you into creating more complex decks, using up to three different factions.
Deck building is also more strategic than simply picking cards that work together in theory due to the fact that the cards have both levels and resource costs. The levels of cards, specifically the higher ones, require you to have as many as two (potentially even three, though I have yet to encounter such a card) commanders from a specific faction which then can limit your deck to just that faction. The resource cost of these cards is also how they impact on the field of play. You start with just one resource point, each turn this increases by one up to a maximum of ten. If your deck is full of three and four point cards, you will be left defenseless and unable to do anything for the first few turns.
The rules of deck building will also influence how you can build a deck up. You are limited to three of a specific card in any deck, unless the card is labelled as an unlimited character, of which you are allowed as many as you like. Unique characters are also a feature of Infinity Wars, also allowing three of each character per deck, but in game you are only allowed one at any time on the board, having one as a commander is also included in this count. However, having one as a commander does give you the ability to summon it at any time – provided you have the resources available – which is the advantage of any commander card.
As well as your character and normal cards to battle with, there are other magical and effect cards which can have direct actions, such as damaging or killing a specific unit, or even all units in a battle zone (Assault and Defense) to increasing the life of units. Some have long term actions, like changing the field of battle on your side of the field. Some of these will increase the health of specific types of units, others will summon a low level unit at the end of every turn. All of them offering something to benefit you but only one can be on your field at any time. There are also artifact style magic cards, similar to the field cards in longevity, but multiple can be active at any time and they have constant effects.
Behind The Cards
You would think that having such a good variety in cards and the strategic and tactical abilities that come with these cards would be enough. It wasn’t for the developers, Lightmare Studios. Every card has a unique animation, beautifully made, and this level of detail has been carried over into the board. Your field cards will specifically change the look of your side of the board into the card you have played and every attack, defense and magic card used has an animation on the field to show that it has been used. It creates a living, breathing, board game where your imagination doesn’t have to fill in the gaps.
As well as this there is the world map featuring the eight single-player campaigns. The first three missions for each faction act as a tutorial, giving you specific cards and putting you in a set situation that the cards on the field and in your hand can get you out of. After these three missions you are given a deck from that faction as a reward and the remaining five missions are for you to hone your skills with that faction. The added advantage of these campaigns is that the victories add to your account and completion, as well as a number of victories, give you more and more cards towards your collection that you haven’t had to buy.
Of course you always have the option to buy cards, though no specific cards are on sale, just booster packs with a random selection, or specific style of decks. These are quite fairly priced, most items being available to be purchased using in-game currency. The only things I’ve noticed to be locked off and only purchasable with real money are certain promotional packs and purely cosmetic items such as specific board styles and the imagery on the back of cards.
I can’t help but be impressed by Infinity Wars, even at such a stage that it’s only in early access. There is a strategic and tactical depth to the card game. It looks nothing short of beautiful, albeit the sound design – which I haven’t really covered – is bland and uninteresting, sometimes the music is overwhelming and I just mute the game completely.
What I like more than anything is that Infinity Wars is a Free-to-Play game that isn’t punitive in its treatment towards people who don’t spend cold-hard-cash on the game. I have yet to spend any real cash and I’ve still been able to buy two packs of cards, albeit small packs containing just four cards each. This has actually made me more inclined to spent some of my steam credit on cards as I will most certainly be playing this some more.Related: Card Game, Early Access, Preview, Review