Infinity Wars is a trading card game which combines classic TCG mechanics with modern digital innovations such simultaneous turns and animated card art. For those who feel TCG “burnout”, Infinity Wars is a different enough experience to make the genre feel fresh again and its innovations mean that it is in some ways even more advanced than other popular digital TCGs like Hearthstone.
This game really packs a punch, with so many game modes, campaigns, tutorials, puzzle challenges, drafting and various online modes of play that it seems overwhelming at first, and too good to be true.
So does it all add up to a good game, or is there just too much going on here? Read on and find out…
Matches take place on a detailed 3D battlefield (of which there are multiple themed skins that you can unlock). Turns are taken simultaneously, which is one of the game’s best additions to the TCG genre. Players are able to queue up their actions and then watch as they resolve together with the opponent’s. This sounds chaotic, but it works really well in principle and a big part of the strategy of the game revolves around working out what your opponent might be doing this round. It also makes gameplay really fast and smooth, since both players are effectively playing at the same time very no downtime (unless your opponent is being particularly slow).
Characters have an attack value and health, which does not regenerate (unless an effect somehow does this). Units deal each other damage at the same time, and the attacking units will keep attacking the left-most unit in the Defence Zone until it dies before moving on to the next one. Players do not choose if a Character is attacking or not each time – it is either in the Assault Zone to attack or the Defence Zone to defend (or the Support Zone which is a kind of “resting bench” where cards can go, and are first summoned to when they are played initially).
All units in each Zone will attempt to attack or defend from attacks each round. If an attack is not defended, the Unit will deal damage to the opponent’s Stronghold, which starts out at 100 Health. Players also have Morale at 100 and when a unit you control dies, you lose Morale equal to it’s Morale value. Either Health or Morale being reduced to zero means that player loses the game.
Since there are a few different zones that Character cards can be placed in, you’ll be moving them around a bit as needed. Each player has their own Assault and Defence Zones where you can send units to either attack or defend the opponent’s attacking units. Attacks resolve from left to right, so even placement of units in each row is important to consider. Will the opponent move that big Character into the Defence Zone to block your unit, or go for your attacking Stronghold? The psychological elements work really well here and make for some tense games.
The Command Zone in Infinity Wars is an interesting addition to the TCG genre. Your deck has 3 Commander cards which are Character cards that you want to start off with as available to you. It’s kind of a half-way zone between your hand and the Battlefield. You still have to pay their cost for them to enter play, but any triggered abilities and other effects they have will be active even in the Command Zone. They’re also somewhat vulnerable here to the opponent’s damage cards if they have any, such as Firebolt which deals 4 damage to any unit, but not as much as if they were on the Battlefield (which is only the Support, Assault and Defence Zones, technically).
The Command Zone is so advantageous in this game because it helps fine-tune your deck strategy and rely less upon random draws to play the combos in your deck. I applaud this innovation as it really helps the game feel more streamlined without reducing the strategic depth desired in this kind of game. The Characters in the Command Zone also set the “threshold” for what Factions are allowed in your deck ( from 8 available Factions currently), so that a card with 2 symbols of a Faction would require you to start off with at least 2 Commanders of that Faction. This eliminates the need to care about paying for cards with faction-specific resources since the resource system itself is faction-neutral.
Resources are generated automatically each turn and increase by 1, to eventually reach 10. This takes out a lot of the resource micro-management you get in other TCGs, streamlining the gameplay so that you can just concentrate on how to play your cards effectively. There is also the Trading Post, which is a menu of actions available each turn – you can mulligan your first hand to re-draw it, minus one card; pay 3 to send a card in your hand back to the deck and draw another one; pay 5 just to draw a card on its own, and pay 9 to increase base resources by 1 in the later turns of the game.
Overall, the gameplay strategy is deep, engaging, and one of the most satisfying digital trading card game experiences available online. It has the instant appeal of Hearthstone mixed with the greater strategic depth of Magic the Gathering and even more.
Infinity Wars boasts a decent range of features that will help it keep up with modern juggernauts like Hearthstone that include a range of ways to play the core game. The Academy mode is actually a kind of puzzle challenge mode in which you first learn some of the advanced concepts of gameplay and then try to figure out ways to beat the situation it has set up for you. This is even more the case in the Advanced Academy mode which provides some really difficult strategic problems to solve. It’s a fun, though brief and non-repeatable experience.
The Campaign mode sees you working through 8 challenging matches for each Faction of the game so far, and it does a good job of teaching you what the overall strategy of each Faction is, since each Faction tends to favor one or two specific aspects of gameplay. You’ll unlock more cards for each Faction as you play their own Campaign, but more of the basic essential cards than any of the rares that are much more powerful. There are also some story aspects to these matches too, but it is rather thin.
There are also ‘Rift Runs’ which function like the Arena in Hearthstone, if you’re familiar with that. You get to draft a deck from a semi-random range of similarly-costed cards to build up your 40 card deck and then play it against other people online. You can keep going until you’ve lost 3 games and then redeem your amount of wins for prizes such as in-game currency. If you earn enough, you could theoretically keep doing Rift Runs on the winnings alone, going “infinite”.
One difference from other games that have a draft mode is that the game offers you the choice of buying all the cards in your deck that you have drafted, if you really enjoyed playing with it, after you’ve finished your Rift Run: you can actually buy them for in-game currency and keep the deck. This is a really neat feature that I was surprised to see included. This mode works really well, even if drafting your deck initially feels like bit a challenge given the amount of cards you need to select first to get going, but I believe this mode will really secure the future of the game as it is so highly re-playable.
In the online PvP department, you can play Normal or Ranked matches. There’s also a really unique mode that is called “Merged” play: you and your opponent’s decks are mixed together into one large deck which you both draw from. This can get pretty crazy but actually works really well and is incredibly fun, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t have that many powerful or rare cards in your collection. You get to play with cards you don’t own and you also have to think on your feet about how to win with mixed Factions, or beat the opponent at their own game.
There is also strangely an official Star Trek tie-in which sees two factions from the Star Trek universe available to play in a separate expansion of cards. So if you want to mess around with Klingons and the Federation, you can do that, although you’ll need to purchase the cards because they aren’t able to be earned in the game for free. This tie-in feels a little strange, and somewhat forced, but its an interesting alternative available for those who want to explore that.
Each Faction in Infinity Wars has a different strategy that they are good at. Genesis Industries is a mix of Humans and Artificial droids that work well together, creating, healing and boosting one another. They’re very versatile and will sacrifice themselves for other units or just focus on boosting one Character to be really big. Warpath are a beast-focused Faction that like to play big, strong creatures and create lots of tribal effects. They’re like the “green” strategy of Magic, for those in the know.
The Flame Dawn focuses on playing fast, aggressive units with good attack power but not a lot of health. They try to overwhelm the enemy fast and are often really good at achieving that. They try to take control of the beginning of the game and put a lot of early pressure onto the opponent. The Cult of Verore like to focus on dealing damage and controlling the flow of opponent’s cards, pushing Characters back into the Support Zone or just killing them outright with death-dealing cards.
Descendants of Dragons are an East Asian mythology-focused Faction that focus around playing defensively and trying to win the game using the Morale alternate win condition. They deal “damage” in the form of Morale in a variety of ways, forcing the opponent to change the way they attempt to deal with you. It’s really fun to try to win the game this way and they’re very good at it. There’s also the Sleepers of Avarrach, who are full of undead zombies that get bigger when other Characters die, and they like to revive themselves out of the Graveyard.
Even though many of the Factions have a preference for a particular strategy, it’s possible to mix them and make them work together. For example, I like to use the Exiles which are demons and cultists that discard cards from the hand to revive them out of the Graveyard for a cheaper cost. They go well with the Cult of Verore to control the opponent and take care of threats with damage cards while you try to summon a huge demonic army. You’ll have to mix Factions and experiment a bit to see which combinations you prefer the most.
Infinity Wars is one of the best designed card games to come out in recent years, taking a number of elements that have been very successful in other games and piecing them together into a complete package that really adds up to a strong game. The developers have also come up with a few innovations too regarding gameplay elements, features and modes that make Infinity Wars really impressively unique overall as a result. There is very little to criticize here, although it must be said that this is a seriously hefty strategy game at its core which may turn away some people who want a lighter, simpler, less brain-breaking gaming experience – but they would be missing out.
Pre-constructed decks in the shop are cheap and provide an instant online-ready competitive deck, whichever Faction you’re interested in playing. Even as a free-to-play model, this game is really successful. You don’t need to put any money into this game to earn cards and unlock new features, but if you are willing to put a small amount of money into the game you do get a lot of value out of the small upfront costs.
This is an extremely well designed game and the continual expansions and improvements make it worth playing. Check this one out if you’re looking for a deeper TCG experience than lots of the simpler card games out there at the moment. It gets two thumbs up from me.
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