Faeria is a free to play card game that mixes traditional collectible card game elements with an actual playing field that players build before pitting their monsters against each other. Few card games are as strategic or fun as this one.
Faeria shares many basic elements with Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games, so anyone with genre experience should be able to pick it up right away.
Cards come in five basic colors: neutral, green, red, yellow, and blue. Every card costs a certain amount of Faeria (mana) to be summoned. Colored cards also require a specific amount of colored lands and an available land of that color on which to be summoned. Once summoned, creatures have an attack rating, health, and (often) various effects that influence the battle.
The big difference here is that each player, referred to as a god, resides at one end of a battlefield. Between the two opposing gods are a field of blank hexes and four wells from which Faeria can be collected. Each side automatically gains three Faeria per turn, but you'll generally need to harvest more so you can summon more expensive creatures and events.
During your turn, you have the choice of laying down two neutral lands, laying one colored land, drawing a card, or drawing a unit of Faeria. Creatures must be summoned and moved around on lands (though some can fly or swim), so a big part of the game involves laying your lands strategically.
You can build a path straight to the enemy god (the rush strategy) or build towards one of more Faeria wells. You also want to avoid allowing the enemy to place his or her own lands too close to your god, as that would allow enemy creatures to be summoned near your vulnerable god.
So the basic game plays out like Magic, with each side taking turns, summoning creatures, structures (which occupy a space on the field and produce an effect but can't attack), and events, as well as attacking and defending. But laying out the pieces on the field and moving your creatures around it takes things to a whole new level, giving creatures and battles a sense of physicality that a normal card game just can't provide.
Faeria offers three game modes, as well as daily challenges and an overall player level to keep gamers invested. Modes include:
Missions: Here you'll tale on numerous mini-campaigns against AI opponents. An individual campaign consists of multiple battles and boss battles. Sometimes you'll face puzzle battles in which you have a specific group of cards and creatures to defeat the enemy in a single turn.
Boss battles can be especially challenging, but they're rarely unfair. After completing all of the free basic campaigns, you can buy additional ones with gold or premium currency.
Battle: Face off against another player in casual or ranked matches. Apparently, your opponent doesn't have to have selected the same game type as you – a ranked player can battle a casual player, and vice versa. Winning online battles gets you gold and (sometimes) chests of cards.
Progressing through online ranks involves earning stars from consecutive victories. Lose too many stars and you'll drop down to your previous rank. There is no penalty for disconnecting from a match, other than the loss you'd have received anyway.
Pandora: In this draft mode, you'll construct a deck from a random assortment of cards and then face off against AI or live opponents who wield their own draft decks. The more wins you score in one Pandora run, the greater your reward when it ends. Losing three times causes the game to end.
It costs Pandora coins to play this mode. These can be purchases with gold or premium currency, and you also get a free coin from every three Pandora victories. Pandora is relatively high stakes, but can be frustrating at times. I prefer to play a neutral/green deck, but sometimes Pandora forces you to pick cards from other colors. Considering the value of the coins needed to play, I hate having to mix dud cards into my deck.
Like many collectible card games, Faeria is free to play and uses two currencies: gold (earned from victories and completing quests) and premium gems. The main thing you'll spend gold and gems on is chests.
- Battle chests: These cost gold and contain five cards of varying colors and rarities.
- Mythic chests: One of these costs approximately $2.50 worth of gems. A Mythic chest contains four items of legendary quality. They aren't all cards, though. You'll also find cosmetic items inside, which can feel wasteful when you just wanted rarer cards.
Cards can also be broken down (disenchanted) and crafted, so you're not entirely at the mercy of the random number generator.
On the whole, Faeria is monetized quite fairly. You can earn plenty of chests and cards just from missions and multiplayer battles, building a fairly competitive deck. Premium players do tend to have more rare cards, but the game is balanced well enough that those seldom guarantee a victory.
Controls and System requirements
Faeria is played entirely with mouse or touch – you never need to use the keyboard. Just click the card, land, etc. you want and select where to use it. No complex controls to learn here.
Minimum system requirements:
- Windows 7, 8, or 10
- Processor: 2.2GHz Dual Core
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 1GB VRAM
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Storage: 3 GB available space
One of my favorite things about Faeria is that practically any machine can run it, such as an Ultrabook or Surface Pro. The system requirements are super minimal, and you can even disable animated backgrounds to coax even more performance from low-spec hardware.
The only downside is the online requirement. Faeria requires a constant server connection, so you can't play while offline or during server downtimes. But given how much of the game relies on competing against others, the online connection isn't too big a hassle.
Faeria is the best collectible card videogame I've ever played – even more fun and addictive than the Magic: the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalker series. The core card gameplay is simple and intuitive, but the addition of the playing field that both players take turns building puts this one on a different level than other card games.
It's incredibly satisfying to outthink and outmaneuver other human players, and the matchmaking times are always reasonable (typically 30-90 seconds) in my experience. And even if you don't crave human competition, Mission mode offers nearly 20 hours worth of single-player campaign card battling. It's the complete package, all for the low price of free.
The only element that consistently gets on my nerves after playing Faeria for nearly 80 hours these last few months is that rush decks are far too effective against slower decks. Rushing by building a land path straight to the opponent and playing fast, low-cost cards will win the battle far more often than it loses. I play a slower deck, so it's frustrating to run up against rushers. Developer Abrakam needs to tweak the game a bit so that rushing isn't so overwhelmingly effective against non-rush decks.
Despite that annoyance, Faeria is still my most-played Steam game this year. Card and strategy game fans owe it to themselves to give this one a shot. And be sure to put Eastx down as your referrer in the in-game Friends menu for a free chest of cards!
- Building the battlefield and moving your units around it adds a new strategic layer to traditional card battles.
- Single-player campaign with tons of missions to complete for valuable rewards.
- There's always someone to play against in both Battle and Pandora mode.
- Rush decks are too overpowered.
- The deck-building interface is clumsy and makes browsing your cards harder than it should be.
- No real penalty for disconnecting or idling when you know you're going to lose anyway.
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