Nowadays, digital CCGs are everywhere. The enormous success of Hearthstone opened the gates to countless card games to flood the market. In such a crowded genre, games that go the extra mile and make an effort to offer something that stands apart from their competitors are to be appreciated. Faeria is one of those games.
Faeria merges classic CCG action with turn-based strategy gameplay and a hint of board gaming for good measure. In Faeria, the players face each other in the guise of two gods. The battlefield is a hexagonal grid of tiles occupied by the sea. Creatures can't be played on the sea without drowning, so players have to put down their own makeshift islands in order to summon their minions and attack their foes.
The word “lands” probably sparks some Magic: The Gathering vibes for many readers. In Faeria, it’s a very different concept than the one employed in Magic. Players will need lands to play creatures since they can only play creatures on land that they control. There are five different kinds of lands, and certain cards can be played only if there is a certain number of one or more specific lands under your control. In addition, creatures can only be placed on a land that shares a color with them.
How can players place lands on the battlefield? Enter the activity wheel.
Every turn, players will be able to choose a single action from the ability wheel for free. Once the action is performed, the ability wheel becomes unavailable until the player’s next turn. Players can use the ability wheel to place a colored land on the battlefield (mountain, forest, lake or desert) or put two neutral lands (prairies) instead on an unoccupied tile tile next to a controlled land, controlled creature or next to the player's avatar. In alternative the ability wheel gives the players the option to obtain one extra Faeria per turn (the game's mana, used to play cards) or draw an extra card.
The ability wheel system is a great addition to a card game. It guarantees that players will always be able to have some kind of impact on the course of the game even on turns where they’ll not be able to play any card. Often a single strategic land placement will give you and your allies a great advantage over your opponents. Even just the extra mana can have a decent impact considering that unspent Faeria can carry over and add to the three that you get at the beginning of each turn.
Faeria matches are way more strategic than many of its competitors. Victory is rarely gained in a turn with a single card play but rather constructed through the whole game with good land placements and control of the Faeria wells. Those are 4 special tiles placed at four corners of the battlefield that will grant one extra Faeria to any active creature next to it (active as is not in summoning sickness). Control over these resource generators will be crucial in most games.
The downside of such a strategic focus of the game is that Faeria is a noticeably slower card game than many others. A good part of the first half of any game will be focused around creating a path between you and the enemy’s god (unless you rely heavily on flying or ranged creatures) and building board presence to protect your Faeria wells. While many players will welcome this kind of gameplay, it also translates to longer games. This is can be seen as a disadvantage considering that many play CCGs as a lunch break pastime and wouldn't have the patience for a more dedicated session.
Faeria offers an arena-like draft mode along the traditional multiplayer experience. While this kind of mode is common among CCGs, Faeria’s Pandora mode offers some variations on the norm. The players make a 30 card deck by choosing a card among the five that are shown to him. Every 10 cards, the player will have to choose a treasure card. Those are special cards that are much more powerful than regular cards and can’t be dropped like other cards but are available only in some modes.
Once players are in a Pandora match, the game plays as usual except that there’s a chance to draw Pandora shards from the deck. Once five shards appear between the two players, an event called “Pandora Awakens” occur. Starting from that moment, wells don’t produce Faeria anymore, players will gain six Faeria per turn instead of three and they can now draw treasure cards. This will always force players to change their strategy on the fly and to always be careful with their plays.
Faeria also distinguishes itself from other CCGs on the market by offering a good deal of solo content alongside its multiplayer. The recent release of its first expansion “Adventure Pouch: Oversky” managed to pour even more content of this type in the game. First and foremost, the game offers the purchase of “Mission Packs” by either gold or gems. Every pack contains a number of missions against an AI opponent. The packs are themed and usually, the missions have special rules and conditions attached to them. For example, there are missions that present the player with an already constructed board and hand and challenges him to find a way to kill the opponent in one turn. All in all, most missions are quite interesting and award a good deal of EXP and battle chests.
Another single player mode is “World Bosses”. This mode will have you face powerful AI opponents that will most likely force you to create custom decks to beat them. Just like the missions, beating a world boss will grant the player a reward (gold and exp) and the possibility to unlock a fancy cosmetic orb for your avatar, called the Orb of Champions, upon beating three of them.
The last mode of note is "Oversky", which was introduced with the latest expansion. It’s not purely a solo mode since it’s designed to be cooperative, but you have the option to play it with an AI ally. The Oversky campaign is divided into islands, each containing a series of missions that, once completed, award some of the cards added with the expansion. The first and second islands will be released the 15th of August while the others will be unlocked each week. The islands will be purchasable individually with in-game gold or in a bundle for real money. For the purposes of this review, we had the chance to play through the first island early. While the missions were not too challenging, they also were enjoyable to play. To be fair the preview server also made the whole card library to us so your experience may vary. The co-op mode can definitely be one of the strong points of Faerie depending on how the developers decide to expand on the concept in the future.
Let’s now address the elephant in the room, shall we? Faeria is a free-to-play game which means there is monetization in the form of microtransactions in it. The game has two currencies: gold and gems. As is easily predictable, gold is the in-game currency obtained by playing the game, while gems are purchased with real money. The good news is that most of the stuff you can buy with gems is cosmetic.
You can buy two kinds of chests from the store: battle chests and mythic chests. Battle chests are purchasable with both gold and gems and drop 5 cards with the usual constraint of at least one card being rare or better. Mythic chests, on the other hand, can be purchased only with gems. They drop 4 random rewards that can be cosmetic items (avatars, emotes, orbs, skins for the Faeria wells and the like) or a mythic card. Mythic cards are Faeria’s version of golden cards. There’s no increased drop rate for rare cards in mythic chests so they don’t have any effect on the gameplay. Aside from mythic chests, gems will get you cosmetic items and card backs.
A field where Faeria could definitely do better, though, is its presentation. While the game as is generally pleasant to look at and the cards are beautifully drawn, the game offers hardly any feedback when playing cards. Once played on the battlefield, creatures take a form of a round token with the static image in it and there’s hardly any animation or sound effects on the field. When I play a powerful legendary creature, I’d expect the land to tremble under its feet as it hits the battlefield. When the player plays a card like “Meteor”, one would expect to see rain falling from the sky. This is the advantage of digital card games over traditional ones after all. While it’s only a presentation issue, this lack of feedback on the player’s actions puts Faeria a step behind games like Hearthstone or Duelyst on the graphics side of things.
Despite the fact it could use some more polish regarding its presentation, Faeria is a little jewel of a game that will make a lot of strategically oriented card game aficionados very happy. Anyone who is interested in the genre should give it a go.
Our Faeria review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. The game is also available on iOS and Android devices. The author of this review previously reviewed the game for mmo.it in another language.
Despite its imperfect presentation, Faeria is an interesting and appealing digital card game. Its focus on strategic placement and positional control makes it stand out than many of its competitors. The presence of solid and well-made solo content also makes it appealing to a big chunk of the public.
- Varied Content
- Strategic Gameplay
- Interesting Solo Content
- Lackluster Presentation
- Rounds Last Longer Than Normal