It’s not hyperbole to say I’ve spent hundreds of hours in a variety of different digital collectible card games. While most of my time recently has been spent in CD Projekt Red standalone version of Gwent, I spent the better part of a year and a half playing Hearthstone, and Elder Scrolls Legends religiously. A couple years later and a few hundred dollars shorter, I decided to try to get into other card games, but I found most of them to share a lot of the same mechanics, art style, as well as other similarities. With the massive success of Hearthstone, the genre has seen a huge surge, and as a result there are a good number of card games that try to emulate Hearthstone instead of creating a something to make their game unique. Heading into Faeria, I wasn’t too familiar with the game. I’ve heard of it, but it never really caught my attention, so I assumed it would be similar the other card games I’ve played and I would be able to learn the mechanics pretty easily. Faeria quickly dispelled that notion and has turned out to be unique game with some deep mechanics that involves much more strategy than most of its competitors.
On the surface, Faeria appears to be rather simple: you and your opponent face off using a variety of different cards with different effects, with the main goal of lowering your opponent's life to zero. Where Faeria sets itself apart is the board and how it changes throughout the duration of each match. Unlike most card games, the board isn’t just there for cosmetic purposes. It’s a hexagonal grid that initially is filled with water. In order to play cards in your hand you must have land to play your cards on (in most cases).
Each turn players can plot a piece of land on the board which allows you to play one unit on that land. There are special types of land you can plot such as forest, desserts, water, and mountains, each corresponding with a different color and type of unit you can play. Some stronger units like Eradon Voice of All or Rotting Boar requires you to already have certain number of specific lands plotted in order to play, while other neutral cards just require any piece of land.
Creating the board this way adds another layer of complexity to the game that I really enjoyed. While this isn’t necessarily a new feature, as other games have different mechanics that makes their game boards stand out, very few effect and synergize with individual cards as well as Faeria. This leads to really unique and focused decks that surprisingly have a lot of variety to them, despite a underwhelming total card list. Some decks specialize in certain things like inflicting direct damage to your opponent which allows you to skip past most of their units, while other decks may specialize in controlling the territory and boosting your units.
There really isn’t a shortage of options you can go with to make your deck tailored to how you want to play. I’m currently playing a forest teleportation deck which specializes in using my card synergies to overwhelm my opponent by teleporting units across his land for direct damage or easier unit kills. Card effects range from typically things like taunts, boost, charges, but a good number of cards also has a new effects that added more diversity to different synergies that can be utilized.
Faeria is a game that gives you choices in how you want to approach every turn. You can choose to plot two neutral pieces of land or one of the aforementioned special plots of land. As the game goes on (and some matches can take up to an hour) land becomes less important than mana or having extra cards. If you decide not to plot any land, you can either draw an extra card or gain a extra point of mana.
Mana also works a little differently than other games I’ve played because it stacks. Instead of building as the matches goes on, or resetting every turn, unused mana stacks and continually stacks turn by turn. I especially enjoyed this, as it limits the amount of rush decks you come across online as players have the option to stack mana until they have a unit strong enough to counter most rush units.
Multiplayer options are what you would expect. Ranked play, casual, and versus A.I. matches are available, but more surprisingly to me are the singleplayer and even cooperative modes that Faeria offers. After the tutorial missions you unlock Adventure mode which gives you a plethora of different missions you can play. This is where I spent the majority of my time as it allows you to get more familiar with all the systems at work as well as build a respectable deck to play with online. There’s a full campaign that can be played with a friend or AI player, boss matches, puzzles as well a draft mode which serves as the games arena. There’s a ton of content here for players who aren’t ready or don’t prefer to play online.
Arguably the most important aspect of a card game is its economy and how you unlock and obtain new cards. Faeria does a pretty good job in this department and is rather generous with awarding you card packs for accomplishing things in the game, especially early on. As you progress through the levels and your profile goes up gets some of these rewards come less frequently, but still enough that I didn’t feel like I needed to spend real money to remain competitive. There are a lot of different cosmetics items you can buy with real money, as well as cards, but none of it is outside the realm of what we’ve come to expect from the genre and free-to play games in general and surely doesn’t' feel like it's being forced on the player.
Faeria is a solid card game that has enough depth, and unique features to make it standout in a overcrowded genre. Despite a low total number of cards, the vast singleplayer options, coupled with a generous economy and very interesting mechanics, makes this one of the better games in the genre.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09