Wednesday, 3 July 2013

SolForge Early Access

SolForge is now available on Steam.  SolForge is one of many recent entries into the Digital Collectable Card Game market.  Basically Wizards of the Coast has been printing money in the form of Magic: the Gathering for two decades, and everyone is suddenly realizing all at once that they could be printing money too.

Disparagement of profit-motive aside, the reason why this market is getting so hot is because collectable card games are inherently a lot of fun and fully digital games give opportunities that paper games could never replicate.  In SolForge the main advantage of being digital is that your cards improve as you play them.  Each turn you draw five cards and play two of them.  The cards you play level up and eventually get shuffled back into your deck so you can draw higher level cards the next time through.  This would never work in a paper game.

If you are thinking of playing a digital card game, you might ask why SolForge would be the one to play.  Right now I can't really say that it is.  Currently all of these games are suffering from having card pools that are too small or simply not being playable yet.  I do think SolForge is one of the frontrunners, though, and I'll explain why.

SolForge is extremely easy to learn.  You'll probably learn how to play in five minutes.  You can reasonable teach this game to and play it with people who love Settlers of Catan and Dominion.  I would think that six- or seven-year-olds could play and enjoy the game.

SolForge is very quick to play.  With players who've played before, you should be able to play a game in 15 minutes or even less.  SolForge would be completely playable on five minute chess clocks - and you could probably finish games even with two minute clocks.

SolForge can also be played very slowly.  One of the features of SolForge is that you never make a decision when it isn't your turn.  That means you can play a asynchronous games over the internet, taking a turn and then logging off and coming back later.  This strength was highlighted by the community playing games on the forums of the SolForge site.

SolForge has genuine innovation.  There have been lane combat games before, but the leveling up mechanic feels very new and replaces ordinary resource mechanics with something fresh and simple.  Only a small set of the card pool is known so far, but the developers have already shown they have inventive ideas for cards.

Of course no game can be everything, and those advantages I've listed have trade-offs.  SolForge definitely has strategy to it and has much deeper strategy than a couple of quick playthroughs would lead you to believe, but it certainly doesn't have the depth of strategy of Magic.  Asynchronous play is a great feature but it also permanently limits the game from going in certain directions.

If you want to see the game in action, you can watch back episodes of the official stream on twitch.tv/StoneBlade or of "Racecar0 vs. Player 2" at twitch.tv/ForgeWatch.

And before we go, my favourite card, even though I'm not sure if it's any good yet:


No comments:

Post a Comment