It’s important to make a good game, not just a good fighting game.
I, for the life of me, can not remember which content creator said this, but it managed to bury itself deep in the trenches of my brain. The sentiment behind it makes a ton of sense too. There are so many fighting games on the market right now that are great. Rollback netcode, robust training tools, fully featured tutorials, the works. There has never been a better time to start playing fighting games then right now. The genre is experiencing a never before seen level of quality across the board. You love to see it.
However, while the quality of the core experience in fighting games has improved, they haven’t actually improved as games. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that they’re worse in this regard. There’s a distinct lack of singleplayer content across the genre, and it’s only getting worse over time. Hell, Street Fighter V originally launched without an arcade mode, and few of these titles have a playable story anymore. That’s all to say, if you’re not already invested in the idea of playing fighters as an exclusively PVP experience then you probably don’t have a reason to play them at all.
As someone who very much enjoys fighting against human opponents, I’m totally fine with how fighting games are right now. That said, it’s hard to make the argument that they’re good games. They’re good fighting games. However, they lack the content, and features that would allow them be recognized by a wider audience.
I bring all of this up because I feel like card games suffer from a similar problem. In my experience, the genre is home to 2 styles: free-to-play, and rogue-like. In both cases, these games put a big emphasis on playing whatever their primary game mode is, while offering very little supplementary content. This is great if you enjoy that one mode, but makes the titles feel barebones if you’re not as interested in spending all of your time on one thing.
That’s where we finally get to the game I actually wanted to talk about: Faeria. I picked it up over Christmas, and only recently started playing. I wasn’t exactly in the market for a new card game, but what drew me to the title was the promise of a campaign. I hadn’t ever played a singleplayer campaign in a card game before, and I was curious as to what exactly this would look like. After spending 10 hours with the game, I still don’t know. That’s not a bad thing though – I haven’t gotten to the campaign yet because I’ve instead been enjoying all of the other content that Faeria serves up.
After finishing a brief tutorial, Faeria was quick to introduce its mission mode. This begins with a couple of standard battles against AI opponents. Each had a themed deck, and this helped to introduce me to the slew of different abilities offered by each of the game’s 5 card types. As I beat each of these foes, I was provided with rewards to flesh out my own base collection. This was really neat because it let me immediately start using the mechanics that I had just learned about in my previous match.
Upon completing the basics, I was introduced to 2 new types of missions. The first was what I’d describe as gimmick fights. These typically had unique board types to play on, or some kind of card based gimmick. For example, in one of these missions that I finished recently, both players were given a card at the beginning of the AI’s turn which made a random card in said player’s hand cost 0 mana. In another, the number of available mana wells was increased from 4 to 8, and they were placed in the middle of the board, instead along the sides. These fights provide unique problems for players to work around, and are a nice change of pace.
The second new mission type was puzzles. These always present the player with a situation where they need to figure out how to win in a single turn. There is only one solution to each, so your goal is to figure out the correct sequence of cards to play, and moves to make. What’s great about this mission type is that it helps to introduce many of Faeria’s core mechanics, and demonstrates the variety of ways they can be used. One of my favourite early examples of this, was using a spell card to kill one of my own minions, so I could reap the benefit of its ability that triggered when it died.
After completing a multitude of different missions, I’d finally leveled up enough to unlock Faeria’s draft mode. For those unfamiliar, this is a game mode where you need to build a deck from a random assortment of cards before trying to win a certain number of games with it. Draft is similar to a rogue-like, albeit you make all of your decisions about deck composition at the start, instead of throughout the run. However, I’ve had a blast playing this mode as I’ve gotten to discover yet more new cards I hadn’t yet seen, and try out a much greater variety of strategies than I currently have available with my limited set of starting cards.
Now for the real question: why does any of this matter? You’ll notice I never once talked about the standard game mode in Faeria. There’s a good reason for that: I’ve never played it. That’s right – I’ve spent 10 hours with the title, but never once played a standard game against another human. There’s so much supplementary content to dig through in Faeria that I simply haven’t felt the need to check out the standard PVP mode yet. Besides, I still have a campaign to start, and conquer, which is the whole reason I purchased the game in the first place.
Look, not every game needs to feature a robust amount of content. I don’t mean to chastise my beloved fighting games, or rogue-likes. I appreciate them for what they are, and the unique experiences they so expertly deliver. However, it’s hard to deny that Faeria’s smattering of content has felt like a breath of fresh air to me. I’ve simply been able to enjoy the game on my own terms, and there’s something really nice about that.
Faeria isn’t just a good card game – it’s a good game.