EarthCore: Shattered Elements is an upcoming card crafting strategy game that uses a 3-element system of combat. Cards can have their abilities fused onto others to create up to 500,000 possible combinations. There is also a unique Risk mechanic which replaces the traditional attack/defense stats of most card games.
We are doing a special preview of this game as our team here is really excited about Earthcore and we’ve been playing the Closed Beta all week. Read on to find out why we think this game is going to take the mobile card game genre by storm when it’s released in the first quarter of 2015.
EarthCore: Shattered Elements is all about using cards of the three mains elements (and the fourth colorless element of Dust) to outsmart your opponent in battle. The battleground is made up of two sides, each with 3 card slots. Players take turns to play cards from their initial hand of 4 cards to the slots on the grid until it is full. At this stage, conflicts are resolved according to the elemental strength and weakness system: Fire burns Earth, Earth absorbs Water, and Water extinguishes Fire.
The fourth element, Dust, is so weak that it is defeated by any other element, but two Dust cards will tie. Cards usually turn to Dust when they use specific abilities that require it, but will give you a benefit somewhere else on the grid, so it’s a calculated trade-off. Sometimes, cards will change opponent’s cards into Dust as an attack.
When a card defeats another, the defeated card’s Risk number is taken as damage to the opponent’s health points. If cards are the same element, or do not defeat one another for a particular reason, they will “flip” over and remain on the grid. Their Risk value is then added to that particular slot for the next round, so even ties will snowball into larger wins/losses over time. Stronger cards also have a higher Risk value, so using them is dangerous but they will have more useful abilities as a result.
Cards in EarthCore: Shattered Elements have active or passive abilities. Passive abilities are always “switched on” if they are in play. An active ability however can only be triggered once per turn over the course of the round of 3 turns. Sometimes a card will give you extra activations but only for a certain element, so you’ll need to manage triggered abilities carefully.
There is also a Chant slot, which is like a spell zone that gains a spell ability you can trigger once each round, and will remain there available to use in later rounds as well (usually). Chants are found on particular cards and will be sacrificed for their Chant if moved to the Chant slot.
Also present is a Risk modifier for the central slot that doubles the Risk loss if that card loses the fight and it only ever applies to one player per round before switching. This means that a big part of the strategy is using it to your advantage while trying to mitigate the extra Risk you could incur from a loss.
The player who doesn’t have the Risk multiplier this round has to play a card first, but the opponent cannot play a card opposite the first played card, forcing them to select an empty slot. This ensures that the first player doesn’t automatically fall behind in being attacked with stronger elements to their cards and it makes for an interesting to-and-fro between plays.
Cards that win conflicts return to your hand for the next round. Tied cards are flipped and add their Risk to that slot for the next turn, while defeated cards are destroyed. Play continues until a player runs out of health points.
Crafting is arguably the best thing about the game so far. Though card fusion and crafting mechanics are popular in mobile gaming right now, EarthCore manages to implement it in an unique way. Heroes are higher-Risk cards that have 3 ability slots. You must sacrifice three copies of a common card in order to “extract” the ability from it and craft it onto your Hero. This also costs a small amount of gold which you’ll need to earn by playing and winning matches in the Adventure campaign.
Given the wide range of abilities in the game so far, there are already a vast number of possible combinations on the cards. Have a look at the one I crafted below.
Game Modes and Features
In EarthCore: Shattered Elements, the single-player Adventure mode currently has 5 “books” to explore. You follow a story set in a collapsing, almost dystopian fantasy world. I was very surprised by the quality of the story’s writing as I went along and I found myself wanting to read the next section. It certainly isn’t your usual kind of fantasy story and even touches upon social, psychological and philosophical elements that usually aren’t as strongly represented in a fantasy story.
The Missions themselves can be passed after defeating them once, but you can earn a higher grade (2 or 3 stars, with increasing rewards) if you complete it with a higher amount of remaining health points. This can be quite difficult if you’re only allowed to lose 5 or 8 HP maximum in that Mission, but if you manage to pull it off you’ll usually earn yourself an exciting new card. You also earn gold and the premium currency of diamonds.
Story missions have hand-crafted decks for you to face off against, and you’ll usually find that building a jack-of-all-trades deck is enough to win on the lower star rating but not the highest. You’ll have to tailor your deck specifically for that encounter in order to completely annihilate it. This can be tricky because the developers have designed these opponent decks really well and it takes a great amount of skill – plus a bit of good luck – in order to pull it off.
The Tavern contains a list of “Quests” which are achievements that will earn you small amounts of diamonds when completed in the game. There is also the Arena, which is not to be confused with a Hearthstone-style Arena (developers take note: draft mode would be an awesome addition), but rather Ranked and Casual multiplayer formats. There are other games modes in the game, but they’re currently locked and we expect more will be revealed in the coming months.
My initial thoughts about this game is that it’s going to be huge. I play a lot of mobile card games and so I feel I have a good sense for what makes an experience rewarding and addicting. Whatever that essence is, the developers have captured it into a bottle and turned it into EarthCore: Shattered Elements. The strategy involved provides a perfect balance between casual mobile gaming and a deeper trading card game-style gameplay so it will appeal to a wide audience of gamers.
The card collecting and crafting aspect is going to be really addictive and I already feel the itch to start earning new cards and Heroes so that I can try out new combinations of abilities. I’ve been playing it for 4 days now and I just can’t tear myself away from it. There’s so much to do in this game already and so much of it is still behind Locked screens – what more could they add to make this game even more exciting? I don’t know, but I do know it’s going to be worth the wait. This is the new one to watch for mobile and tablet gaming in 2015.
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EarthCore: Shattered Elements launches in the first quarter of 2015.