You've already heard me talk about HEX and how excited I am for the prospects of it as a card game which attempts to incorporate aspects of an MMO... crafting, group PvE content, etc. Well if you're curious to see what it's all about, but don't feel like committing any cash to finding out... the good folks running Utopian Chaos have a deal for you. They just announced that they will be giving away one "Pro Tier" package for access to the game. This was one of the $250 pledge tiers from their Kickstarter campaign. Full details of the promotion can be found here. And while you're there, be sure to check out all their other content. If you have any interest at all in this "new frontier" of digital card games, UC will have you covered in terms of getting you the info. With that out of the way then... on to today's topic!
A New Breed of TCG?
I was turned on to Infinity Wars by the folks at UC. I was there mostly due to my interest in HEX (and somewhat Hearthstone) but IW was not something I had even heard of prior to getting involved with the site. So soon after, one of their founders hooked me up with a closed beta key and I was able to take this game for a spin. I've been putzing with it for almost a week now and I feel comfortable enough to share some initial impressions that I have of it. Now bear in mind that this game is still in closed beta and is a ways off from full release. That means two things; first that there are going to be bugs, errors, missing content, and other things, and second that anything I talk about is subject to change prior to launch. With those disclaimers in mind then, let's take a look at IW.
The first thing to note about IW is that it does away with the concept found in most TCG's of each player taking turns and passing "priority" on each action. At first I was unsure how this concept of "simultaneous turns" would play out in practice. I thought it would be literally simultaneous and that the game would feel "twitchy" or frantic as a result. As it turns out though, this is not the case at all. Both players take their turns at the same time yes, but actions do not occur instantly. What happens is you decide all the things you want to do on your turn, your opponent does the same, and then the game resolves all those actions based on an alternating priority system. In other words, on one turn all your actions will resolve first, then on the next turn your opponent will have that "priority." This leads to some very strategic gameplay as you can try to bluff or predict your opponents actions and try to guess what s/he will do on the board on any given turn. I wasn't sure I was going to like this concept, but so far I do.
This leads to another major gameplay departure from a lot of other TCG's, the concept of zones and how that affects creatures attacking and blocking. In most TCG's you have freedom to select when/if a creature of yours attacks, and when/if a creature blocks. IW's concept of zones automates much of this process. For the purpose of combat there are two zones, Assault and Defense (there are two other additional zones but those are a somewhat different topic.) Creatures in the Assault Zone automatically attack each turn, where as creatures in the Defense Zone automatically block. There is no choosing attackers or choosing blockers, it is all done automatically according to the game rules. Now you may think this "simplifies" combat, but based on my experience so far, it does nothing of the sort. Combat tricks, deploying "sneak" blockers or attackers, etc. are all very much a part of the game and go a long way to determining your success.
Take my Money Now!
The third and final aspect of the game I wanted to cover in these initial impressions is the payment model. As with many games in the dTCG world, the general trend is "free-to-play" with ways to spend real money to buy things as well. In this IW is pretty similar. However it should be noted that it is possible to earn cards, booster packs, pre-constructed decks, etc. all with the in-game currency. I say possible, but it is not going to be ideal for most players. There is a cap on the amount of in-game currency you can earn in a day. If you earn up to the cap every day, it will take about a week to accumulate enough currency to purchase a pre-con deck, or you could buy a single booster pack almost every day. Now I honestly don't know how much time it would take to cap every day. I've yet to come close, but all I'm doing right now is single-player tutorials and campaign missions to familiarize myself with the game. That said, a single pack per day or a single deck per week will make for a long, slow process for people looking to avoid spending real money on the game.
The game itself is fun though. I enjoy the mechanics and how it is a departure from many of the other types of card based games that I am familiar with. It will certainly remain in my "rotation" as a change of pace game to go to now and again, but I can't see myself committing a significant amount of time or money to it at this time. If you like card games though, I would definitely try it out. It is a good game and if it catches your interest, you certainly won't be disappointed to give it a few bucks. On that topic, folks who are in the beta are able to invite others into it. So... if IW sounds like fun to you, leave a comment below. I'll pick one and email you a key to try the game for yourself.