Faeria manages to offer one thing that I would consider to be one of the biggest shortcomings of a lot of card collecting games. That being options. Many of these games have their own niches and ways to be played but I think it’s safe to say they all possess the same core mechanics at heart; gain resources, summon cards and reduces your opponent’s hit points to 0. However, the lack of options in some of these games can actually end up weighing down enjoyment after extended periods of playing time. That is, they begin fun when you’re first starting out and facing off against other people that are new to the game, but as you progress through the ladder, or perhaps start to understand the game more, you realise that there’s simply specific decks that reign over everything else. They might change as the meta shifts but there’s always something at the top. And this becomes a bigger issue the less options you have in order to counter that and play differently depending on the situation.
I’m going to use Hearthstone as an example. Now, we all know how hearthstone works. It’s geniously simplistic by design and easy to pick up and play. The problem is, once you’ve been playing for a while and you start to understand what decks are good and what aren’t in the current meta you fall victim to an issue present in almost every patch that I’m gonna call “The OP 3”. This is where 3 decks dominate the meta and, although you can climb with other decks, if you want to have an enjoyable time you’re almost going to have to play one of them. They all work in a Rock-Paper-Scissors manner, where one counters the other, that the next and so-on. This is a huge problem in terms of diversity and balance, and it arises from the fact that the game just simply doesn’t offer enough options. This means that the only way to counter one deck is to either have cards with incredible value, which leads to other issues such as cards like Dr. Boom, or make a deck based solely around countering it. The problem here is that if your deck is built only to counter one of the popular ones, then what happens if you’re matched against one of the other two? You’re screwed, simply put. Although Hearthstone’s greatest strong point is its simple nature, it can also lead to it’s greatest downfall because it lacks options, ways to deal with decks that are currently strong without just screwing yourself over in the process. So, what would options bring to hearthstone? Well let’s say, for example, more cards could have chose 1 effects that, rather than selecting based on what you’ll get more value from at the time, you could select them based on what you were playing against. Or perhaps cards have two way effects that differ based on what else is on the board. Now, these are examples of how options could benefit Hearthstone and how they could be implemented from the ground up, but is obviously still not perfect and we know this because hearthstone has actually tried to implement some of these things, so the problem must go deeper.
Faeria is built from the ground up with options in mind and comes up with an incredibly genious system to counteract all the issues that can end up plaguing card games. It does this by completely reworking the way that turns are taken. Sure, I could sit here and talk about the board and – although I think it’s a great addition and sets the game aside from the crowd – I would consider that to be a unique aspect of the game that’s just too specific to Faeria to say that it’s really a solution to the issue. No, the solution to the issue is presented to us in this little circle in the bottom right hand corner. This simple little choice menu is why I was immediately taken with Faeria. It offers options with each turn based on the situation. There’s no silly ruleset to these options and there’s no gimicky combo that needs to be pulled off in order to use them. As a quick summary of what this does for those who have not played the game – each turn you get to chose one of these options, build a type of land, build 2 plain land spaces, gain one resource or draw one card. Without adding a needless amount of complexity or even extending turn time by a noticeable amount, this singular system offers more options than you can find in almost any deck on hearthstone.
This means that much more variety of things can be played in different situations and in general makes the flow of the game based much more upon how you react in different situations rather than who’s deck has the flat out most efficient cards. For example, I might draw a very high resource card, but I plan ahead and decide to conserve and make a powerful turn 3 play by taking control of one resource well then passing my next turn by choosing to gain 1 mana. But, the opponent answers by choosing to build as many plots as possible and rush me down. I’m now stuck in a situation where I’ve put all my eggs in one basket but fear not because I have options – this turn, instead of following through with my previous plan, i instead draw one card in the hopes that I get a lower cost monster to answer his rush. Now I made that up on the spot but as you’re playing, this simple system can really just open up lots of different little opportunities to play in different ways. Not only this, but it makes you actively think more – to win on Faeria you have to actually stop and think about the ramifications of your next move.
Overall this is a genius way to fix one of the biggest issues in card games in general. It means, not only are more decks viable but the game itself is more fun to play and raises the skill ceiling a tonne – it allows you to keep learning and keep theorizing the optimal plays, rather than simply resorting to whatever the top three decks are at the moment. Now, I’m not saying there won’t be decks that are simply better than others – ofcourse that will always be the case in any card game; what the options bring are ways to deal with them, even with a deck that could be considered strictly worse.
That’s my two pence anyway. I honestly hope to see the Faeria community grow because it deserves it, not to forget that I do actually enjoy hearthstone, that’s why I wish it didn’t have balance issues that seems to plague it.