When I attended PAX East in 2013, I was excited because one of my favorite companies, Blizzard, was going to announce a new game. I lined up early outside the Boston Convention Center Friday morning and made a beeline for the first staff member I saw to get directions to the correct theater. Many others did the same. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as Blizzard developer Rob Pardo started talking.
And then… a card game. Polite applause. The general consensus of the crowd was one of slight disappointment. Hearthstone? There were some who were expecting something more, although it was hard to say what “more” would have entailed.
This continued, as I waited in line to play the demo on the show floor. One guy walked by and sneered, intentionally loud enough for us to hear, “Why is everyone waiting in line to play a card game?” A girl in line with me yelled back, “Because some people like card games, you jerk!”
One year later, it turns out that girl was right. Blizzard has another huge hit on its hands with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and it’s managed to pull off this latest success by staying true to the same formula that has worked for the company for years. Take an already developed genre of games, whether it’s RTS, MMOs, or CCGs, and fine tune the experience so that it’s easily accessible and fun for all. Just like with World of Warcraft and StarCraft, Blizzard has succeeded with their digital collectible card game by getting people who didn’t realize they liked card games to come to the table. If there’s any justice in the world, maybe even that jerk from PAX.
So if you’re like a lot of gamers and Hearthstone is your first experience with collectible card games, you might be wondering what else is out there. Thankfully, we here at Den of Geek have you covered. Here are a 5 more games that will test your newly found card building skills.
Magic: the Gathering
Magic: The Gathering is one of those games like Pokemon that even if you’ve never played it, you’ve surely heard of it. First created in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast, Magic was the first ever, and some claim still best, trading card game. In fact, a lot of longtime Magic fans claim that Hearthstone is essentially a toned down version of Magic with a Warcraft paint job. Indeed, both the traditional card game and its most recent electronic update, Duels of the Planeswalkers, contain a number ofadditional rules and features to keep track of.
Hearthstone tournaments are starting to take off, but Magic Online is still king for now. Magic: The Gathering decks are much more complex and contain more cards than one in Blizzard’s game, and as such, players will have to memorize some pretty rigid tournament rules.
Buying cards and tournament invites is a bit more expensive than in Hearthstone as well, so it will be interesting to see what happens as Blizzard’s game continues to pick up steam. That said, if you really want to get into CCGs, there’s no better place to start than the game that started it all.
SolForge launched to much acclaim in 2013 after a successful Kickstarter in 2012. It’s big selling point is that the creator of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, helped design the game along with the team from popular board game Ascension. Like Hearthstone, which recently launched on iPad, SolForge supports cross-platform play between PC and Mobile. It should be noted that this game was the first to reach mobile devices, and was specifically designed for the platform, making it one of the best free-to-play games for your iPhone or Android device.
The game only added tournament and draft play at the end of last year and it’s very much a title that’s in development. But what’s there already is quite good, and until Blizzard manages to port its iPad version over to mobile phones, SolForge represents the best way to game on the go.
Might and Magic: Duel of Champions
Let’ be honest, Might and Magic isn’t exactly groundbreaking or innovative. It’s very much a Magic: The Gathering clone, and it doesn’t even work that hard to try and hide that fact. What it does have is a killer IP that may make you forget all about its Magic connection.
Long time gamers will recall that Might and Magic was one of the earliest RPG successes back in the 1980s and 90s. The series’ heydey has long since passed but Ubisoft, who now owns the rights to the franchise, is hoping to tap into that old school nostalgia with this game.
Get past the clear Magic ripoffs and you’ll actually find a lot to love here. It provides daily login incentives like Hearthstone, offers both casual and hardcore tournaments and supports a wide range of decks and play styles. Obtaining cards can be hit or miss as there is no card crafting system, which pushes players towards spending real money a bit faster than other games.
HEX: Shards of Fate
Blizzard announced during this year’s PAX East that Hearthstone would receive its first PvE dungeon, based on World of Warcraft’s Naxxramas raid later this summer. But for those looking for a digital card game that already has MMO and dungeon crawling elements should check out a game called HEX, (by the makers of the World of Warcraft TCG, no less). This game was another Kickstarter success and features different classes that are the starting point for deck-building. The game is also borrowing another mainstay from WoW with the announcement that HEX will soon support an in-game auction house where players can trade cards and various other in-game gear.
The game’s buzz has notably cooled off in the days since its Kickstarter, but with the developer themselves claiming HEX is still very much in an alpha state, we’re excited to see where it could go from here.
Card Hunter‘s name is a bit misleading as the main point of this game is to hunt not for cards, but for gear. Players equip gear, which in turn gives them a few cards for each piece. You then go into battle wearing whatever collection of gear you feel gives you the best combination of cards.
The game board for Card Hunter is also one of the more unique ones on this list, with a look and feel more like a traditional Dungeons and Dragons or pen and paper RPG. The game supports a full single-player PvE campaign as well as multiplayer.
It’s also very easy to get into as it can be played in a browser using Flash, no download is required.
This strategy based CCG is made by indie developer Zachtronics Industries. It has one of the more unique storylines we’ve encountered in a card game, as it takes place within an alternate history at the onset of the American Civil War. Both sides have access to robots called Ironclads with which to do battle. No word though if these robots are forced to kill their brother robots fighting for the other side.
Each game has specific victory conditions and the player’s deck construction is earned from previous matches. The grid-like battlefield features various lanes and reminds many of a real-time strategy game.
Players can battle their friends or play a co-op mode together.
The game released on Steam for Windows, OS X and Linux in September 2013.
Scrolls is a strategy collectible card game developed by Mojang. The game attempts to mix elements from trading card games with traditional board games.
Each player in the game has five “idols” and the winner is the one who destroys three of the opposing player’s five idols on the other side of the board. Players accomplish this with their scrolls, which is what the cards in this game are called.
The game released a couple of updates in 2013, introducing a crafting system and Judgement Mode, which is a drafting mode similar to how arena works in Hearthstone.
Fun fact: Mojang went to court with The Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda and won. Yay, go indie devs! Bethesda thought that the name “Scrolls” could be confused with its own series, which also features that word. Mojang won an interim injunction allowing it use of the name, and later reached an agreement that they would not trademark Scrolls and in turn Bethesda would no longer protest the name, as long as it never directly competed with The Elder Scrolls.
War of Omens
War of Omens is another Kickstarter darling, hitting its $30,000 goal in January 2014. The difference here is that War of Omens mixes elements of CCGs with traditional card trading games.
The art in this game also helps it stand out. Developer Fifth Column Studios had three different artists draw the art style for each of the game’s three main factions, ensuring that each one has a unique style and feel all its own.
The game went to open beta in March.
Legends of Norrath
Do you wish someone would make a CCG based on EverQuest, just like Hearthstone is based on WoW? Well, guess what, it already exists. The game isn’t quite as popular as Hearthstone of course, but if you need an EverQuest fix and can’t hold out anymore for EverQuest Next, maybe give this a try?
At this rate, I think I’m going to quit my job at Den of Geek and just go make a CCG Kickstarter. Yes, here we are again with Infinity Wars, funded for $17,000 in late 2012. The game remains in open beta and is free-to-play.
Infinity Wars has gone all out on the artwork here, as the battlefields and most of the cards are beautifully animated. The game can get complex, as players can merge the factions their fighting for along with their decks. It also features open trading of cards between players. The game advertises that it wants to create the feeling of walking into your local card shop and talking and interacting and trading cards with other players before getting down to play.
This game has some strong support behind it as its made by MMO developer Perfect World Entertainment. The title also gets perks for being an iOS game, something a lot of other titles on this list can’t claim.
Elemental Kingdoms lets players do all kinds of different things (although some might say too much). These things include gathering cards, crafting decks, enhancing cards, and fighting bad guys. One thing that does stand out is that most players only go into battle with about five cards to start. This makes each card and each turn have much more significance.
Clash of the Dragons
Clash of the Dragons is a free-to-play MMO-like CCG that can be played in your web browser or through Facebook. Players use their cards to do PvE battle against mobs in different themed zones. You can slowly win points to purchase premium cards or you can head to the microtransaction store and speed up the process.
This title for the web, iOS, and Android is developer Boostr’s sequel to its popular Urban Rivals title. Much of the gameplay from Urban is still here, but a new element of strategy has been added.
Players can build an army of “Heroes” to go to battle with, as they fight across the island of Rhynn. You are allowed to see some of your opponent’s deck during this game and a big part of the gameplay is trying to bluff your opponent into making a bad decision.
Shadow Era is another Kickstarter success and is free-to-play. Gamers can earn premium Shadow Crystals, either through good play or by spending money. These crystals can then be used to buy booster card packs or as an entry fee for tournaments.
The game mixes various Hero cards with various classes like Warrior, Mage, Hunter, etc. But it’s not done there. Each hero also has his own faction of either Human or Shadow. Depending on which Hero you pick, you will be limited as to which cards you are allowed to put in your deck.
Shadow Era is available on the web and through mobile devices.
Assassin’s Creed: Recollection
Ubisoft has released just about every kind of Assassin’s Creed game imaginable, so it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s a CCG out there, too. Personally, I’m still holding out for Assassin’s Creed: Free-to-Play Kinect Dance Party Adventure.
Anyway, Recollection is an iOS app that includes the card game, a gallery of art from the series and a short animated film.
The game pits players one-on-one and each player attempts to control the three regions on the board. Players increase their “influence” over a region by using their cards, first player to 10 influence points wins that region, and first to take two regions wins the game. There’s also a single player campaign against the computer.
Cards are themed after players and areas from the series and the in-game currency used to buy new packs of cards is called… “Animus Credits.” Cute.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!