Faeria is a tile-based digital CCG developed and published by Abrakam SA. It was in Steam Early Access for an entire year, and has only been officially released on March 8th. The purpose of this article is to deliver an informative first impressions so readers can determine if Faeria is a game they’ll enjoy. Whether Faeria is worth playing or not depends on how well it distinguishes itself from other games in an oversaturated genre. Through examination of the general gameplay mechanics and how friendly the payment model is towards F2P players, a recommendation for readers will be made at the end.
A match begins with a mostly empty hexagonal board (as pictured in Figure 1). Players take turns developing the board by placing land, which serves as prerequisites and locations to summon creatures and build structures on. There are five factions: blue, green, red, yellow, and neutral. Non-neutral cards can only be played on their respective land.
Faeria is the resource used to play cards. Each player receives three Faeria at the beginning of their turn. Additional Faeria can be harvested from one of the four wells located in the diagonal corners of the board. By bringing a creature next to an unharvested well, players will gain an additional Faeria. All wells replenish at the start of each player’s turn. Maintaining control of them throughout matches is essential to avoid losing tempo.
Rather than beginning each turn with a set amount of Faeria, unspent Faeria from previous turns are carried over. This forces players to meticulously manage their Faeria so they can play cards with high Faeria costs. If a player were to spend all their Faeria every single turn, they would never accumulate enough Faeria to play expensive cards. This is a significant difference from traditional card games in which players are supposed to maximize their resources spent every turn. This took me some time to get used to, but after a while, it became intuitive. I enjoyed the extra planning that went into each and every card I played to ensure I kept enough Faeria for future turns.
Once per player’s turn, that player has the option of spawning one unique land (of a specific color), two neutral lands, draw a card, or gain a Faeria (as seen above in Figure 2). The complexity of Faeria comes from deciding among those various options. Failure to make the correct decisions will prove to be detrimental even at the beginning of matches. The result of having a gameplay system that revolves around more than just playing cards is a much steeper learning curve. This can be both a good and bad thing. On one hand, more casual players will likely find themselves heavily outmatched by regular players. On the other hand, the game rewards skillful play and deep understanding of the core mechanics.
In terms of random elements, I think Faeria has achieved a nice balance between skill and luck. While luck will no doubt be the deciding factor for some matches, ultimately, the vast majority of victors will be the players with better strategies and execution. Aside from the inherent randomness of all card games due to drawing, most random effects in Faeria can be summarized as targeting a random unit or generating random cards of a specific color.
Overall, the gameplay of Faeria is innovative largely in part due to the board. Other card games have implemented board systems before (such as Mojang’s Scrolls and Counterplay Games’ Duelyst), but none of them have made one like Faeria’s. The board also adds an extra layer of complexity that helps establish Faeria as one of the most difficult card games currently available to master.
A card game in today’s day and age cannot survive if its free-to-play model is poorly designed. If paying players had a significant edge over F2P players in terms of collecting cards, then there’s no incentive for F2P players to compete with their disadvantage.
Regarding this, Faeria is generous with the amount of gold and Battle Chests (more information on these shortly) available to new players. By completing the extensive solo campaign, which includes both puzzles and duels against AI opponents, players will gather enough cards to create a wide variety of decks. However, I had concerns about gold gain once players finished their solo endeavors. I found that, on average, I was receiving 10 gold per win in multiplayer. Considering that a Battle Chest costs 1,000 gold each, that means I was receiving 1/100th of a Battle Chest per win. Needless to say, that’s absurdly low, and should definitely be increased. Thankfully, there are other methods of earning gold.
First, players will receive one daily quest every day (with a maximum of three quests held at a time). These quests reward a minimum of 400 gold each, and should be completed on a regular basis. Second, players will gain experience and level up simply by playing matches. Each level up rewards players with a modest amount of gold (around 50-100 from my experience) or a choice between three cards (every ten levels) for which they don’t have an entire playing set of. This means that players are receiving more than just the 10 gold at face value per win; however, I’m confused as to why a level system exists in the first place. It would make more sense to me if the level up rewards were evenly distributed across each win. Third, and lastly, players will receive gold bonuses simply by logging in every day. These bonuses will increase with consecutive logins, and will include “special rewards at the end of each week”, according to a Faeria news post. Overall, by taking advantage of each method to earn gold, players can expect to buy one Battle Chest per day without too much commitment.
I’ve mentioned Battle Chests a couple of times now, but what exactly are they? Well, each Battle Chest contains five cards (see Figure 3 above), with at least one card being rare or a higher rarity. Faeria allows players to reroll a rare or higher rarity card once per chest into a different card of the same rarity. Honestly, I was surprised at how amazing this feature was for F2P players, and why other card games haven’t implemented it before.
One of the worst feelings in CCGs is receiving a duplicate of an incredibly rare card. For example, imagine receiving two copies of the same legendary in Hearthstone (I’m using Hearthstone as an example here because I expect readers to have experiences with the game before). The second copy would have to be disenchanted for an underwhelming amount of dust (only enough to craft an epic card). With the option to reroll the duplicate, players receive a chance to avoid the misfortune. In addition, rerolls can be used to either attempt to avoid or prioritize gaining cards from a specific faction. For example, if I receive a legendary yellow card, but have absolutely no interest in the playstyle of yellow decks, then I can reroll the card in hopes of getting a legendary from another faction. As a F2P player myself, I greatly appreciate the ability to maximize my gain from every chest.
Real money can be exchanged for the premium currency, gems (prices shown in Figure 4), in order to purchase chests and cosmetics. Each chest is at most $1 each, with the price progressively decreasing with the more gems you purchase in bulk. An important note to mention is that most content can be bought with both gold and gems. Items that are only purchasable with gems are purely cosmetic, and will not negatively influence the competitive integrity of the game. I don’t believe gems are necessary to play Faeria at a competitive level because of the speed of gold gain and the reroll mechanic. Instead, I view them as a way for the developers to receive an income from passionate players that wish to support the game.
Faeria’s tile-based gameplay is innovative enough to warrant a try. The game is more difficult than the majority of other card games currently available, and should appeal to an audience that favors games with a high skill cap. F2P players aren’t too disadvantaged against paying players because gold income is fair, and cards can be rerolled. The main use of gems is to purchase cosmetics which doesn’t have an impact on the gameplay. If you wish to play Faeria, you can download the game on Steam or iPad devices today.