Web-based card games are nowhere near as popular as they once were. Mobile gaming has long worn the crown as the favored platform for any kind of card game – especially when in-app purchases are involved. Whilst browser-based games have a potentially larger audience with wider, easier access, they simply cannot compete with games on mobile platforms most of the time. However, that does not stop some developers from trying!
Ravaged Worlds is a fantasy-themed card game that treads the traditional trading card game path with a very classic design. There are a number of familiar mechanics that avid TCG/CCG players will recognize in addition to some new mechanics that aim to make the game feel substantially different.
Does Ravaged Worlds have enough original content to warrant your attention? Read on to find out…
There are a number of similar mechanics that provide the backbone of Ravaged Worlds’ gameplay. Before I discuss these in greater detail, we need to address the obvious. Whilst mobile games have moved towards a more video game-like experience, this game is more like a digital interface through which to play a physical-like TCG. Still, the loading times are rather impressive for a game of this nature and it definitely beats a lot of other web-based card games I’ve tried.
The impressive card pool is made up of a number of factions that make up the story within Ravaged Worlds, which is set around the lore of Daemonia. Many of the game’s factions are, or have at some point, fallen victim to the inhabitants of Daemonia. Many are starting to fight back, and some believe that they are able to push back the scourge for good!
As the game is in open beta you will need to sign-up via the game’s website before you can play. When you do, you’ll get to choose which faction’s starter deck you want to begin with and all of them are completely free. At this point, you will have no idea which deck is best so it’s nice to be able to make this choice based on personal preference. These cards are then added to your own personal collection and the deck is immediately assigned by default so you can jump right in on the action.
You can play in various ways. There’s a traditional one-on-one mode, all the way up to three-one-three team-up bouts, with the inclusion of unbalanced teams for an enhanced challenge. I like the idea of big team matches as these game modes are often overlooked by developers when bringing new card games to market.
Starting a match is just like most other card games. Draw a hand with the option to mulligan if you don’t draw an optimal opening hand. Instead of base life points, you have a Capital that must be protected. The Capital has its own hit points and is shown as a card on your board. The Capital also generates your initial resources that are needed to deploy more cards.
The resource system is dealt with through the deployment of Territory cards, which also come with hit points. Some are vanilla cards that just give resources per turn while others may have battle stats that mean they can be used to defend attacks – a risky but sometimes necessary tactic. The more of these you have in play, the more resources you’ll generate each turn.
The biggest concept change is the battle mechanics. Whilst they may look simple on the surface, they are deceptively complex. Creature (and some Territory) cards have battle stats that are taken into account when committed to battle. Power is used to determine the damage it can deal to an opposing card, Attacking Skill for that card’s combat skill, Shield for that card’s ability to defend itself, and finally, Hit Points rounding off the symbols. Creatures also have passive traits that are similar to other card games. There are so many of them that you’ll be referring back to the glossary each time you stumble across a new one.
This is where things get a bit messy. When you attack with a creature, your opponent can assign one or more of their creatures to block that attack. In nearly every other card game you are assured victory if your attack stat beats the opposing attack or defense stat. Ravaged Worlds throws dice rolling into the mix, complicating it further with a chart that signifies what roll will be needed to beat an opposing creature based on the compared Attacking and Shield Skill values.
This over complication of the battle system has you scratching your head until you learn to just live with the outcome that even your strongest creature may not be able to kill off a simple creature of lesser power if it gets lucky enough. That said, after playing with it for a while, I came to embrace and even enjoy the uncertainty that combat brings. It’s possible, although more unlikely, to bring down bigger units with smaller ones so you will never entirely feel like the game has snowballed against you. As a catch-up mechanic, it works great.
I look forward to a version of Ravaged Worlds that has battle animations, sound effects, and even some music. These key ingredients will make the experience of playing Ravaged Worlds far more enjoyable. As it stands, the game feels very silent and lacks visual effects. I’d suggest plugging your headphones in and blasting out your favorite playlist before the silence strangles the enjoyment out of the game for you.
The artwork on the cards is somewhat hit and miss, with some great pieces of art mixed in with paintings of lesser quality. The only consistency to the cards is the much more impressive templates which really help to distinguish the factions from one another.
Ravaged Worlds currently features three playable game modes. The Arena is where all the action takes place. The Instant Action mode is where you can get straight into a match against a bot that uses a legal deck from the cards that you own. At the start of your career, these will predominantly be mirror matches and should help you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your deck.
Running the Gauntlet is an endless battle against increasingly difficult A.I. opponents. The idea is to see how far you can go before falling or calling it a day and then reaping the rewards for your effort. Build A Game enables you to set up a custom game between yourself and up to 6 others, with various team balance compositions. Who would want to pass up testing their steel against three opponents in a 1-v-4 scenario?!
A campaign mode is listed but is still under development. It works in a similar fashion to capturing and holding territory for your chosen faction in the world of Silath. The more territories your faction controls, the more rewards you’ll be awarded at the end of the campaign.
One of the most appealing features here has got to be the trading systems. There’s the usual storefront that sells premium currency (Coins) in addition to booster packs. However, you can sell unwanted cards on the game’s built-in marketplace to willing buyers or even set up specific trades. You can quite literally list a card you don’t want for a card that you do want, taking all of the negotiation out of the trade and making things far more efficient.
You can also earn currency just by playing games online, so it’s feasible to never have to put money into the game if you don’t want to. Of course, it would make collecting cards much faster if you do.
What you have to consider with Ravaged Worlds is that this isn’t your typical video game TCG. Instead, this is a digital representation of a paper-based TCG. It has all the elements of a paper TCG with the true-trading, selling, and team-up matches on a web-based platform that may appear slightly antiquated since we’re now spoiled with so many flashy video game-like card games.
Ravaged Worlds will never challenge the biggest games in the genre, because I don’t think it is trying to. If it were, the developers would have opted for a delivery system other than web-based Java. That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement to ensure that Ravaged Worlds gets the fan base it deserves, but I think this game will develop a strong, core community of players and that will be its strongest point.
I do hope the developers are planning on adding key details such as music and sound effects. I’m sure these are being worked on, but they need to implement these features as quickly as possible if they aim to impress.
The game shows a lot of promise. I can see the faction wars of the campaign mode being of particular interest among those that like to implement a little bit of MMORPGs into their TCGs. The core design of the game is impressive and reminds me of the physical TCGs of days gone by. If you’re at all nostalgic about classic TCGs from years gone by, then you’re definitely going to have to try this one.