Fantasy Rivals, An In-Depth Review

8.3 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 8/10
Sounds: 9/10
Graphics: 7/10

Interesting psychological mechanic of combat. | Varied range of deck strategies.

Gameplay is similar to Urban Rivals, so essentially a fantasy re-theme of their other game.

iOS, Android, browser-based.

Free to play with in-game purchases.

December 11,2013

English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese

Fantasy Rivals is a fantasy collectible card game developed by the same people who created Urban Rivals. In some ways, it is a re-theme of that game and its core mechanics, but it is actually a whole different game of its own. Both games revolve around a central combat mechanic that relies on psychological play, bluffing and betting with a starting pool of mana points to boost individual Heroes’ attacks. There are a range of factions, gameplay modes and deck strategies to pursue with fully integrated online play.

So how does this game stack up as a fully fledged CCG? Let’s find out…

Fantasy Rivals is a quick but strategic CCG, a game taking no more than 2 or 3 minutes.

Gameplay

In Fantasy Rivals, players take a deck of 8 cards into battle and face them off one-to-one by a hidden method of selection. Each player will have a Hero on the field already and have to select a second one to be played to the field. These Heroes are visible to the other player once they are played. Then each player must secretly select one of their two Heroes to be the one to go into combat, taking into account which of the two Heroes their opponent might play. Since you have some information to work with, you can attempt to pick the best Hero to overcome what the opponent might be likely to play.

When a hero clashes with another, you must decide how many vials of mana to boost your attack by. Each Hero has an attack power and a damage value. In order to inflict the damage value to the opponent’s health, you must have the higher total attack of the two fighting Heroes. Each vial of mana spend on boosting the Hero’s attack multiplies the initial attack. So 3 vials of mana spent on a Hero with an attack power of 4 will result in a total attack of 12.

charging-mana

Boosting an attack with vials of mana is a necessary step of combat, but will take a bit of thinking.

Both players’ mana amounts are revealed at the same time after being chosen in secret. This is how a lot of the gameplay becomes psychological, looking at the opponent’s Hero’s stats and working out what they might be likely to spend on the card. Since players start with a total maximum, and regaining mana over the course of the match is possible but hard to do, mana is a precious resource and you have to think carefully about how much to use. There is also a way to add damage to your Hero by spending an extra 3 mana vials on top of your total attack boost (and these 3 mana do not go towards boosting your attack as well, only adding damage).

There are other considerations to take into account – for example, each round, the “Attacker” and “Defender” switch roles, and some cards’ abilities will only work or trigger upon being correctly used when attacking or defending. Similarly, many cards have abilities that will only trigger if they win, or even lose, that particular fight. This causes battles to be a really fluid situation where players are trying to trigger their Heroes’ abilities, but also bluff about what they’re doing and hopefully outsmart the opponent with psychological tricks.

campaign-map

The campaign is quite linear, but as you progress through the varied requirements of missions you’ll find the difficulty increases dramatically.

Modes and Features

The single-player campaign of Fantasy Rivals takes you through a line on a map with mission nodes that you have to complete in a sequential order. These provide unique victory conditions that you must meet before being able to pass on to the next stage, such as “Win 3 games with 12 lives or more at the end” or “Gain 8 mana over the course of the match”. These can be quite difficult to pass and will usually require some deck-tinkering to attack the problem with the right tools. You’ll earn enough gold in the process to buy new cards from the card market for your decks so you can play this game entirely without putting any money into it.

The ranked and causal modes of League play are where you’ll get your PvP fix. There are also regular tournaments which you can join and play throughout the day. These carry decent prize pools and so are really worth doing if you think you’re able to compete, but you’ll find a lot of Epic rare cards here which are disproportionately powerful compared to the rest of the card pool. You can create strong decks just from lower rarity cards, and Epic cards won’t always win the game alone, but it is something to be aware of in this game. Epics are very powerful and very hard to come by.

Buying cards in packs is more random than using the player-driven market, where you can buy individual cards for much cheaper, except for the highest rarity which is always very expensive.

Deckbuilding and Strategy

There are currently 6 factions available in the game, each with their own style of strategy: Abyss, Alliance, Draken, Empire, Shadow and Spectre (these roughly accord to the 5 colors of Magic: the Gathering, with “Black” being divided into Shadow and Spectre). Some focus on big attacks, trying to lose to deal damage or poison, regaining mana spent on attacks, lowering opponent’s attacks or even countering their Heroes’ abilities.

Evolving cards raises their power level, which counts against your deck total (depending on the mode you’re playing, but usually 28 stars maximum). The star level of a card also changes their stats and abilities, usually becoming much more powerful the higher the star level. It’s not always possible or desirable to have every card in your deck at the maximum star level, so sometimes it will be necessary to have some lower starred cards in order to round out your deck total of 8 cards, if you’ve already put in several high star cards.

Combat is very psychological and it will take some time to understand the best way to outsmart your opponent. Pay close attention to the attack and damage values of all Heroes available, as well as any abilities that might alter the tactical decision making process for either player. You have to try and think how your opponent is thinking, which comes with practice in this game.

One trick I like to use is to under-spend or refrain entirely from boosting a card when I know the opponent will probably over-invest in theirs. This can sometimes cause them to waste a lot of mana trying to overcome an attack that you’re not even boosting, so you’ll get them to waste a decent amount and thus have more mana yourself to control the flow of the remaining rounds. This doesn’t work all the time though as it is highly situational and often a bit of a gamble, but it can pay off well sometimes.

Evolving cards increases their cost in star level, but also makes them stronger with better abilities.

Final Thoughts

Fantasy Rivals has an utterly electric, exciting, tense, and deeply tactical way of resolving combat in a card game – and I absolutely love it. This system of combat can be found in a few similar games so is not 100% unique any more, however it still is one of the best innovations to happen in TCGs and CCGs in recent years. It completely refreshes the manner in which combat strategy occurs and the decisions you have to make to win. No longer will two cards go up against each other with the outcome already decided before its happened because the stats are static values that don’t change – here, you don’t know for sure what your opponent’s final attack amount will be except by inferring from the card itself and their remaining amount of mana.

It should be noted as well that a high score has been given to the sound design as most, if not all cards have been given their own unique voice acting and sound effects. This goes above and beyond what most digital card games do, matched only by big budget games like Hearthstone. The artwork style is a little bit cartoon-like for my tastes, however I understand the cost can be quite large for card game art (especially since each card here has several star levels with unique art for each level).

The only downsides I can see is that Epic rare cards are very powerful and cost way too much gold to be able to buy on the market, yet those who find them in the random booster packs have a strong advantage over those who don’t have them. Otherwise, decks can be quite evenly balanced and strong decks can be made and purchased from buying singles on the card market for a reasonable amount of gold that is easy enough to grind in the game itself.

Overall, the presentation and player experience is one of the most polished you will find in any mobile card game. It’s unique enough that you’ll find it plays differently from most other TCGs and CCGs available. I really do think that Fantasy Rivals is definitely one of the best card games available to play on on the go for mobile and tablet devices, so check it out.

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.
  • Sacrificial

    Fantasy Rivals, despite being the successor of Urban Rivals, has failed to deliver a compelling enough game to truly come into its own. As a player who has reached diamond tier in league and collected several of the rarest Epic cards, here is my honest review of the game.

    Launched in 2013, Fantasy Rivals has had every opportunity to differentiate itself from the TCG/CCG genre. It certainly has an intriguing premise in its purported offering of psychological play. Unfortunately, the game’s declining player base, poor tournament showing, and inactive forums ultimately belie its lack of popularity. Why is this the case?

    Let’s start with the game proper. The premise of psychological battle between strategic players is a false one. The game is inherently unfair and pay-to-win because certain Epic cards have tremendously overpowered abilities that are difficult to counter. It is possible to lose 3 rounds out of 4 and still win with an Epic card such as Oljaneik which can create a winning gap of 9 up to 15 with fury. Other Epics like Deelenar, Miselai, Gladia, Noeptus, Patrician are guilty of the same. Unsurprisingly, these Epics typically cost more than 300k gold on the market, which is a grind for any casual free-to-play players. For reference, each winning battle gives 5 gold. It is possible to get jewels from missions and daily league battles in order to open booster packs for the chance to get Epics, but the grind remains odious. Playing as a beginner often means losing again and again against decks that are vastly more powerful and more expensive, with little outplay potential. This is the very definition of pay-to-win.

    Because of the low population base, the matchmaking system is wholly unbalanced. Beginner bronze players under level 10 can be matched against diamond or master-ranked level 50 players. As can be expected, the experience is very frustrating and discouraging. This is the norm across all three competitive modes – melee, league and tournament.

    The tournament is a time-limited mode that alternates between Epic and Epicless rules. This mode is foundamentally flawed. It exacerbates all the worst aspects of the game. It allows players to form decks from the most overpowered cards across all extensions. New players do not stand a chance and should avoid this mode at all costs. The low population virtually guarantees that they will play against the same players and decks over and over. Experienced players know to “farm” this mode which has caused severe price inflation in the already unpredictable market.

    The game has badly designed UI. There appears to be no desire or no manpower allocated to game infrastructure or coding. This is why there are game-breaking bugs that have existed for months, why much sought after features like guilds are nowhere on the horizon, why tournaments cannot be redesigned, and why there has been no significant change to the UI design and implementation in forever.

    There is lack of communication and adherence to development schedule as promised. Deadlines for the release of information on the most recent Cinderpeaks extension has come and gone. Staff has promised mission overhaul, improved tutorials for new players, but these have not materialized.

    Ultimately, the game does not seem inclined to attract and retain new players. Instead, the push for the new extension rather than to address more pressing structural problems suggest a last-ditch cash grab from old players. I am not optimistic about the long-term potential of this game.

    In short, keep away, far far away.

    • DudePerfect

      How is this honest when you used negative reviews as a threat to forum moderators in the games forums. You are a horrible troll

      • Sacrificial

        DudePerfect, all the points in my review are true. I have been burnt by the game, having spent a lot of my time to get to diamond rank in league and collecting some of the most expensive Epics. I don’t want to see new players get tricked into playing this game. So far, there has been ZERO development on the game. Look at the forums, facebook, twitter – all inactive. Urban Rivals still has weekly events, regular updates and a bigger player base. Play that game instead.

        • GayFather

          And I’m sure flooding the review section with poor ratings for the mobile version of the games all on the same day shows your totally non-petty and level-headed opinion of the game, right? :^)

  • SacrificalsCousin

    Fantasy Rivals, despite being the successor of Urban Rivals, has managed to deliver a compelling enough game to truly come into its own. As a player who has reached diamond tier in league and collected several of the rarest Epic cards, here is my honest review of the game.

    Launched in 2013, Fantasy Rivals has had every opportunity to differentiate itself from the TCG/CCG genre. It certainly has an intriguing premise in its purported offering of psychological play. While somewhat unpopular at the moment, Fantasy Rivals has a dedicated and helpful fanbase.

    Let’s start with the game proper. The premise of psychological battle between strategic players is an intriguing one, executed through each player only being able to see 2 of their opponent’s cards at a time. The game is inherently fair because certain cards of all rarities can have tremendously powerful abilities that can be difficult to counter. It is possible to lose 3 rounds out of 4 and still win with a card such as Djeser, Neferabet, Tiberius, or Oljaneik, who can each create huge life gaps with fury. This is generally a problem if you either A. are not able to predict your opponent having one of these cards (possible due to the aforementioned psychological aspect), or B. play a deck with exceedingly low life gap. Surprisingly, since these cards are available at all rarities and prices, players have easy access to them. For reference, each winning battle in league mode gives 16 gold (in addition to a daily bonus ranging from 100 to 500+ gold, depending on your average league score!). You are also able to receive large amounts of gold for participating in tournaments held every hour, in addition to jewels. It is also possible to get large amounts jewels from missions and daily league battles (in addition to weekly league jewel rewards) in order to open booster packs for the 20% chance to get Epics. Playing as a beginner means spending some time learning about the popular cards/decks for each faction, completing missions, and playing in League/Tournaments in order to assemble a strong, yet affordable, deck. 🙂

    Because of the low population base, the matchmaking system can match beginner players to more experienced players occasionally.

    This is uncommon during the most popular times of the day (Usually in the afternoon of GMT+2).

    The tournament is a time-limited mode that alternates between Epic and Epicless rules. This allows players, both newer and older, to have a shot at receiving excellent rewards. It allows players to form decks from cards across all extensions. New players stand a strong chance in the Epicless format, but should stick away from the Epic format, as the most experienced players generally play in this format.

    The game has badly designed UI. There appears to be no desire or no manpower allocated to game infrastructure or coding. This is why there are game-breaking bugs that have existed for months, why much sought after features like guilds are nowhere on the horizon, why tournaments cannot be redesigned, and why there has been no significant change to the UI design and implementation in forever.

    There is a good level of communication on the game’s forums primarily from one of the admins, Ghelas. Numerous updates for the now released Cinderpeaks extension had been posted by Ghelas, in addition to other updates on the status of the game. With a new tutorial system and mission overhaul on the horizon, players should I have plenty to be excited for!

    Ultimately, the game seems inclined to attract and retain new players. I am optimistic about the long-term potential of this game.

    In short, give it a try.

    • Sacrificial

      The playerbase is what… less than 50? 70? Even the most optimistic view of the game must hesitate at the fact that the game’s admin, Ghelas, has to perform double duty as artist for the cards because the game lacks funding from parent company, BoostR. Lack of highly requested features like guilds and matchmaking fix have not been implemented, or rather cannot due to lack of funds again. The most senior coder and developer for the game, Fraggle, quit which left this game without a regular release for MONTHS until this lackluster Cinderpeaks (6 cards – wow).

      Don’t take my word for it. Look at the inactive forums, try getting stomped by lvl 50+ as a newbie constantly, check out those 100k+ cards that you can’t own in a broken market.

      Sure, give it a try. /sarcasm

  • niko

    Fantasy Rivals could be a good game if bugs reported by community fixed. For loosing point and rank on league due to bugs i give negate advise.

    P.S: Play on internet browser is more stable than smart phone….

  • Nikko

    game will be closed this month…

    • rafael santos

      will not open again? closed forever?

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