Coraabia is online, browser-based trading card game with role-playing elements set in a vast, alien universe full of war and intrigue featuring short-lived tactical games of duelling with character and trick cards. Coraabia gives the sense that you have been thrown into a complete, living world and you have to hit the ground running to stay afloat.
This really makes the game world feel like it is an evolving story which you are actually engaging with, something that is usually quite difficult to achieve in strategy card games. Players are able to influence the story of the game world in various ways, including winning tournaments with certain factions and deck types and voting in political polls. The gameplay is solid, too, providing a new spin on an old ‘trumps’ mechanic to deliver a fresh experience unlike anything else available at the moment.
Read on to find out more about this strange, intriguing game…
Initially, Coraabia appears to be like some kind of advanced ‘Top Trumps’ game, where your character cards have 4 primary stats and you choose which one you want to bet on battling with against the top character card of your opponent’s deck which you’ve not yet seen. This sounds a lot more random than it actually is, in practice, since there are 5 different factions and each one specializes in a particular stat, so once you work out which faction(s) your opponent is playing, you’re able to make better choices about what stats you can beat them at.
This isn’t all, however. You also have two other means of winning at your disposal. Firstly is the ability to play Trick cards. When drawn, these stay in your hand and you can only play them when your battling character card is currently losing the fight. They help you do a range of combat tricks such as boosting specific stats, forcing decks to dump cards into the discard pile, bouncing characters away and summoning the next available one in their place, and so on. Many character cards have abilities like this as well, and the symbols start to make sense the more you use them (but you can always hover over them with the mouse for a pop-up window explaining what they do).
When a character wins the duel, you gain score equal to their score value, rather than trying to reduce your opponent’s life points as in some other TCGs. Your score just needs to be higher than the opponent at the end of the game in order to win. Even the score stat on a card can be changed, such as a “critical” hit when the declared stat is twice as high (or more) than the opposing character’s stat.
The winning player then gets to declare the next stat to be chosen, and thus gameplay has this kind of leader/follower flow to it where you attempt to gain upper control of the situation and force your opponent to play on the defensive and waste their resources trying to get back on top. This aspect to the game makes it feel different to the turn-based method of other games where each player gets a turn declaring all of their attacks and other actions, as it is entirely possible to keep control of stat declaration all the way through the game if you play your cards right and your opponent isn’t able to gain back control from you. It’s all about knowing when to throw out your tricks and trigger character abilities, as you don’t always want to throw everything you have at the opponent right away.
Decks also have Connections, which are like permanent mods that you, your deck and your characters permanently have during the course of the game (and some can even affect your opponent, too). These might be boosts to a certain stat, or giving you random tricks or characters in your opening hand, and other abilities. Connections are just as important to the deck as characters and tricks because they boost the power level of your deck too much to ignore them, so they’re worth including even though they add to a deck’s overall Influence level (that cards contribute to as either 1, 2 or 3 cost, and the deck has a maximum limit of 70).
Connections are one of the most unique things about this game. This seems to be almost a video game-like idea which has been embedded into the card game thanks to the lack of restrictions in working in the digital space, and it adds a whole new dimension to the strategy of deck building in a really interesting way.
Character cards themselves have an interesting function where you can unlock 3 parts of a story unique to that card by winning duels with it. This is a fantastic feature that really helps flesh out the game world and makes you feel like you are progressing more with your character as you unlock new pieces to their story.
Coraabia has one of the most beautiful opening cinematics I’ve ever seen for a card game, explaining the back story of the world and showcasing some rather amazing voice work and moving art. After the introduction, you’ll be sent off to the Orbital University to learn the ways of dueling. The tutorials are short, engaging and informative, making sure you’re ready to get started quickly.
From there, you move onto the planet Coraab to begin your Career in whichever faction pathway you want to begin with. There are five factions: Guardian, Xenno, Mercenary, Unliving and Outlaw. Each has their own thematic art and play style, biology types and races, stat preferences and even further sub-types that have tribal effects. Each faction has a Career pathway, and your deck must contain a majority of cards belonging to that Career’s Faction, but are otherwise free to throw in a few others as well.
Progressing through the steps of the Careers looks like a skill tree in an MMORPG – there are paths that split off from the main one which go in a different direction and lead to different kinds of challenges. Each step of the path is an “activity” of multiple levels and each has victory conditions which often force you to modify your deck in a certain way or beat the opponent with a particular strategy, meaning you’ll need to constantly modify your approach in order to progress through the Career. This is the most enjoyable aspect to the single-player campaigns as you encounter interesting story events that have to be defeated in a particular manner. You also earn all kinds of rewards, such as unique cards, avatars, Connections and in-game currency of two types: Trins, earned freely in game, and the premium currency, Xot (also free to earn but in lower quantities).
There are also regular tournaments on the PvP planet, Khoptid. Here you will also find Grinds, which are a list of achievements and quests earned at any time by winning matches and participating in tournaments.
The online shop features boosters, singles, Connections and premium avatars which you can buy with Trin and Xot respectively. There is also a player-driven Bazaar which sees cards listed for amounts of Trins, making it easier when acquiring new cards needed for building a new deck or selling off unwanted cards and doubles.
Coraabia has got off to a very strong start and has a promising future ahead, given the constant attention the developers are giving to it. Very few card games are able to evoke the sense of world involvement that this game has successfully pulled off and the developers should be very proud of this aspect to their game. Though it took me a while to grasp the gameplay and really get into it, once I did I was absolutely hooked. It is simple, but presents very important choices about what to trigger and when. Knowing your opponent’s cards and deck is also important so this takes time in the game to recognize what the strengths and weaknesses are of each deck type.
Even if you don’t want to play PvP games, there is more than enough content here to keep you exploring all on your own. Coraabia is one of the most unique and different TCGs I’ve come across in recent times, but it’s one that I’m going to be playing for a long time. I highly recommend checking it out.
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