When I am asked to look into a new game I get – understandably – excited. Being asked to play and share my opinion on something that has yet to grace the app stores is something of a privilege. MavenFall is a game that certainly excited me when I did a little research prior to installing it. It looks a little like the Facebook game Maganic Warriors that I reviewed a few months back, but will be available on iOS and Android only (for now).
MavenFall is a free-to-play, fast-paced, tactical card battle game where your Mavens’ skills are brought to life through colorful animations. Although the game is currently in a soft-launch phase and is only available for download in New Zealand and Ireland, I was invited to download and play it before the official worldwide launch. The developers have said that they may change a few features and details before the game is officially released, so keep that in mind as you read this early preview.
MavenFall certainly looks like it will be a lot of fun, but can it live up to high expectations? Read on to find out…
The word Maven comes from the Hebrew word ‘mevin’ and roughly translates to “the one who understands” based on an accumulation of knowledge. History lesson over — it’s quite a cool name for a game, but that aside, Mavens within the game are the “creatures” you have fighting for you using their skills. The skills are cards that can be cast for that Maven by expending mana. They all have different roles and skills to use – perhaps you could consider them to be experts in their fields and thus their understanding of these skills came with the required training and practice needed to master them.
In MavenFall you have a team of Mavens that will fight against enemy Mavens, whether it’s the A.I. from the Adventure mode or human-controlled Mavens in the Arena. Each Maven has their own set of basic and unlockable Skill cards that can be added to their individual decks. This means that instead of one central deck, you have access to up to 5 different decks. You add 3 cards from any of the Maven decks to your hand each turn in order to use them.
Skills cost mana to cast and that cost is seen on the top left of a card. If the Skill will inflict damage, then the damage is printed on the bottom of the card. Some Skills’ damage will be altered by other cards, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when casting your Skills. The amount of mana you start a game with is small but increases each turn, up to a maximum of 10. This means you won’t be able to fire every Skill at your opponent every turn and will need to pick your Skills carefully.
As I have previously stated, each Maven has its own unique set of skills. What this also does is separate them into another category: Front Line, Mid Line, or Back Line. Your tank-like Mavens occupy the Front Line, whilst the squishier, yet high damage-dealing Mavens will be in the Back Line. The Mid Line will have the support-style Mavens or those that use more magical abilities. Ideally each team you build will have one Maven in each line in order to have the most optimum team build.
I really love the layout with all of my Mavens on one side and the enemy Mavens on the other. Each time you activate a Skill by paying its mana cost, a short animation of that Skill performed by the appropriate Maven reminds you of just how much fun the game is to play. I find all of the Mavens to be incredibly adorable and cute, no matter how manly some of them were meant to be. Their design feels a little like “western cartoons” meets “cute anime”, without the huge eyes and scantily-clad females.
MavenFall is full of charm. The colorful characters, warm color palette, and the entire layout of the user interface feels polished and is a lot of fun to use. I didn’t have a single moment where it felt like a chore to play. I didn’t experience any grinding issues, despite the slow accumulation of the in-game currencies. There doesn’t appear to be any gated content and the Arena felt fair and balanced. Obviously those that pay will get access to the higher-cost Skills earlier, but some are restricted by the level of a Maven. If you play someone of a similar level, it means they won’t have those cards and you will have a much fairer experience.
Unlocking new Mavens in MavenFall is quite simple and you are encouraged to do so via the Adventure mode. As you play with each Maven, their levels will increase and you will also unlock new Skills for them. These can be added to their individual decks for use in further Adventure or Arena battles. I quickly picked up a few favorites from the current cast of Mavens and built my team around them.
So far the modes are rather on the limited side. The Adventure mode is basic and you simply fight against the Maven you wish to unlock. However, you will need to progress within the Arena to unlock some of the Mavens. The Arena is as you would expect it to be — a PvP arena where your Mavens take on other people from around the world (eventually!).
By winning you increase your rank and Arena League participation level. You should also keep a look out for the daily Arena missions that will reward you with Gems (the premium in-game currency). Each duel I took part in lasted no more than 5 minutes, which is fantastic for those with shorter attention spans. You can switch between active Mavens on the Arena screen, which is perfect for when you want a more casual game.
Mavens can be enhanced by adding new and powerful Skills to their decks. The way to do this is to buy them from the Skill Shop. Here you can purchase a Skill card using Gold or Gems. Both of these currencies can be earned in-game, but the Gems are also a monetized purchase. Using either currency for Skill purchases will net you a Skill card or Maven (if it is not yet unlocked). You can also access the Dust shop from here, which lets you create more powerful Skill cards. You use Dust to purchase these and Dust is earned by playing against friends, so it pays to make some new friends whilst in the Arena.
MavenFall is quite surprising. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly simple game, and on the other, it’s rich with strategy. The team composition of your Mavens will matter quite a lot, as will the skill required when you choose which Maven deck to draw from given the current situation in the heat of battle. It makes for some interesting gameplay decisions and I enjoy that the most about this game so far.
There is a risk that some people simply won’t get the concept behind MavenFall and that is a shame. I often think that with some games you shouldn’t think too hard about why you’re playing and just play. There is no story driving you forward or a real cause as to why you’re fighting other Mavens, you just are. I can accept that as the game never once tried to be anything other than fun.
When this game is open to general release then I recommend you at least give it a try. I find the gameplay to be addictive, fun, and engaging. At no point was I bored and I couldn’t wait for the next battle to start. I’m eagerly waiting to see the changes that may be made and I’m hoping for some more single-player modes for those who aren’t so competitive.
Seriously though, how cool is that art style?
For more screenshots, click here.
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