What online collectible card game should you play?

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Since the release of Blizzard's Hearthstone, there have been a lot of games rising to challenge the series. As a player looking to get into the series, what would be a good place to start? The choices may seem overwhelming, so this breakdown is intended to help you find where the best place for you to spend your time, and oftentimes money. Here's a comparison of all the popular online collectible card games (CCGs) out there right now.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Even if you're unfamiliar with the genre, you've probably heard of Hearthstone by now. The game is wildly popular, and has been in the top 5 of Twitch's featured games since its beta release in early 2014. As a new player, is it right for you?

Pros
  • Hearthstone has a very large fan base.
  • There are many ways to play, with both single and multiplayer challenges.
  • Multiple expansions have already been released, adding to the game's impressive content count.
  • The game is easy to learn, but hard to master.
  • The cards are colorful, and the game has a good sense of humor.
  • There are a ton of resources available to new players to help learn.
  • The game is updated frequently, with six expansions in two years.
Cons
  • Due to its popularity, many players will be far more experienced, leaving little room for new players to comfortably adjust.
  • The game is planning to close off older content, making it permanently unavailable.
  • Some classes require much more "expensive" cards to be played well, and may take quite a lot of time and/or money in order to catch up.
  • Most promotional material will never return for new players to earn.

Duelyst

Duelyst changes up the card game genre by adding elements of classic strategy games. Players choose a faction, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and battle on a grid battlefield and summon minions or cast spells from their hand to try to defeat the enemy commander. The game was created by designers who worked on games such as Rogue Legacy and the Diablo franchise. 

Pros
  • The game's tutorial system does a good job of teaching new players the basic mechanics of Duelyst.
  • The commanders are varied, and all have powers that encourage different deck choices among the factions.
  • The sprite work is wonderful.
  • The board is very clean and easy to read. Background art is colorful.
Cons
  • The added layer of difficulty due to the game being both a card and strategy game may be a turn off to new players.
  • The game is a more recent release, and does not have as much content as some of the other games out there. There are plans for expansions.
  • Some of the keywords have complex effects, once again possibly turning off newer players to the genre.

Faeria

Faerie takes what Duelyst is doing one step further by mixing board game elements into a classic card game. Players start on opposite sides of a board and build land cards to establish their decks. It takes the land cards of Magic: The Gathering to a whole new level, in that you actually summon and fight on the lands you create. The boards look beautiful, and are reminiscent or classic board game art.

Pros
  • The game has a lot of fun themes to each deck, with cards that do things like flood the land at the start of your turn, converting the area to water.
  • The artwork is beautiful, with each "card" having stylized characters.
  • It is different from anything you've probably played before, engaging to players new to the genre or old vets.
  • The game is intended to have a fair business model, allowing players to win based more on skill than luck.
  • The game is still in early access, so you'll be learning along side everyone else.
Cons
  • That being said the game is still in early access, there are some balancing issues and features missing.
  • Despite the fact they claim the game is not luck based, it is still a card game, and luck does play a major factor in how games play out. It just isn't as bad as some games can be.
  • The game is still new and has a smaller community, resources to help new players are not as readily available as they are for the other games.

Shadowverse

Shadowverse is a mobile trading card game and is still in closed beta for Android and iOS. For a mobile game, it has some pretty outstanding artwork, despite perhaps cashing in a little too hard on the sexy anime look that has become quite typical in gaming. Don't let that turn you away from the game though. It manages to have some pretty exciting gameplay mechanics, and the playable characters each have their own backstories that you can explore.

Pros
  • The game's artwork is great.
  • The main characters are varied and fully voiced.
  • The "evolve" mechanic is fun to play with, strengthening your characters and triggering special effects.
  • Having a story mode gives something for players outside of the normal competitive pvp.
  • The game has a lot of abilities that allow for experienced deck builders to play around with to find synergies between cards.
Cons
  • Unlike Duelyst or Faeria, the game isn't trying to reinvent the wheel with what its doing, and won't feel new.
  • It's a "free to play" game, so expect to spend money if you want to get ahead of the competitive players.
  • The "board" on which you play out your games is cluttered, with almost too much space allocated to UI or environment.
  • They probably took the, "sex sells" ideal too seriously.

Card Hunter

A mixture of Dungeons and Dragons with classic collectible card games, it's hard to really think of this game as a CCG at all. Players create a party of adventurers including any mix of clerics, warriors and mages with racial choices of dwarf, elf or human. As you earn gear, you earn cards for your character, with rarer gear earning you rarer cards. Decks are then shuffled and players engage in combat either against the different monsters of the world or other players.

Pros
  • The game does a great job recreating the feel of Dungeons and Dragons, with silly dialogue and varied monsters to fight.
  • The multiplayer is a lot of fun, allowing friends to form a party and fight against other players in tournament play, or take the fight to the dungeons and quest for glory and loot.
  • For a free-to-play game, most purchases are purely cosmetic, and you won't feel left behind if you choose to pay with time investment instead of financial.
  • Has some fun expansions, including one written by Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade.
Cons
  • There are currently no plans to add the other iconic Dungeons and Dragons races, leaving the player with only the three to choose from.
  • Speaking of three, that's the size limit of your party, if you want to play with more than two other friends, this may not be the right game for you.
  • The dialogue can be a little cheesy. Expect the "nerdy guy who doesn't know how to act around girls" trope to be thrown around a lot.

That's the end of our list. Were there any other card games coming out that you'd be looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments!

Published Apr. 25th 2016

Correspondent

Joshua Potter (AmeNemA) is an avid video game player, having been hunting ducks and collecting coins since he was a toddler. Now he applies his years of knowledge to writing about the games he's come to love.


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