Rolplay is an online collectible card game set within a fantasy world. Rolplay is a rather old title, having been originally released back in 2002, but it has since been ported across to iOS and Android devices in more recent times. The gameplay emphasis is primarily on PvP (player versus player) interactions. With over 1,400 cards available for deck building, the game certainly appears to have a lot of variety on offer.
Is Rolplay too old to be worthy of a download to your device? Read on to find out…
I’ll get one of the major issues with the game out of the way immediately: Rolplay does look quite dated. The card art is a mixture of 3D rendered people, creatures, or monsters, which in some instances appear weird and disturbing to look at. The background images feature some rather dated looking 3D rendered environments too. I’m no expert on 3D modeling, but I’m fairly certain that these images should have been a lot better when you consider the technology available at the time. Its unattractive nature aside, let’s have a look at the gameplay and judge it on those merits also.
Veteran TCG players will be familiar with the gameplay mechanics to be found here, which are easy enough for novice players to learn too. The simplicity of Rolplay’s gameplay is driven by a very typical resource system, called Power. This resource is played by playing Power cards from your deck and it forms the backbone of your deck and is necessary in order to summon your creatures or cast spells. Many games use this type of system and it is a system that works very well, even if it is rather unexciting.
There are 3 classes you can choose from at the start in Rolplay: Alchemist, Mage, and Warrior. Each one has a different starting deck and preferred style of play. Playing a Power card, attacking, or defending is just a double tap away. Cards have clear values for Attack, Defense, Health, and Power cost. The only thing you have to remember is that you need to play your cards before declaring any attacks, as there is no way to play the cards afterwards. These appear to be the only two phases to the game, as I wouldn’t really consider pressing the end turn button a phase.
The objective of the game is to reduce the opponent’s life to zero, as per usual. To do this you need to attack them with your summoned creatures. The defending player can choose to defend with any available creatures at their disposal with the only restriction being that any creatures that attacked for them are exhausted and unavailable to defend. This mechanic feels a lot like the battle phase of Magic: The Gathering except in Rolplay you attack with each creature one by one, and only one creature can block an attacking creature.
The game calculates the differences between Attack, Defense, and Health for you. If there is any damage left over from the Defense and Health subtracted from the defending creature, interestingly, it is then dealt as damage to that player’s life points. This is only the case when attacking, so it doesn’t work if you try to use a more powerful creature to defend against a weaker one to deal retaliation damage. I found this to be a rather one-sided affair, as the attacking player would rarely be punished for over extending — the defender would often lose creatures and life in order to mitigate larger damage by not defending. The worst the attacking player would lose is a creature.
The learning curve is short and the battles are over relatively quickly. However, I found that playing online was met with more losses than victories. This in turn leads to some slow leveling and despite the use of online trainers (A.I. opponents) I was unable to make much headway early on. The gold (in-game currency) procured from leveling up does allow you to purchase a booster from the store at 100 gold each, but the cards scale with your level. So I was unable to even beat level 5 opponents and only just able to beat level 3 opponents some of the time.
MODES AND FEATURES
Whilst Rolplay appears to be shy of regular players, it is not shy on features. There are a couple of PvP offerings, a single-player campaign, a marketplace, clan facilities (Kingdoms), deck editing and player leveling, and even a rankings system. Although the developers have put a lot of work into the game with player interactions in mind, I can’t help but feel that there are a few too many features for the players to really understand them all.
Duels is by far the simplest of modes and consists of online PvP matches or the campaign mode when you reach level 4. Even though I had a fairly competent deck, I was unable to best the first part of the campaign at level 4, or even beat any online opponents whose level was in line with my own. This is due to the lack of gold needed to buy boosters that contained better cards than the ones you start with. I did opt for the Alchemist class as my first deck and perhaps this is the reason why — but shouldn’t all starting factions have the same chance to progress at the start of a game?
The additional PvP mode is through the means of regular in-game tournaments. I’m sure this would be one of the game’s most exciting features if you are able to get other people to participate against. I tried several times and was always the only player entering. This meant that the tournament was cancelled due to insufficient participants. The tournaments are scaled in blocks of ten levels, for example: 1-10, 11-20, and so on. I would have loved to see what the format would have been like, but I was never able to.
If you are a competitive person then the rankings system should appeal to you. This is for players and Kingdoms, so by competing for your Kingdom you can increase its overall ranking against others. To get in a Kingdom you will need to submit a request or start your own, though making one isn’t cheap. Kingdoms have extra modes at their disposal such as sieges against Fortresses and Villages. Doing this will net you gold and perhaps even some legendary cards.
A marketplace is set up for the sale of cards to other players willing to pay the asking price. You can also find the in-game shop here to purchase booster packs, card backs, and game boards (different battlefield backgrounds, which is cool, I admit!). There doesn’t appear to be a way to buy gold and I found this to be strange. Perhaps the game really does want to be a forever-free title. I can’t say I blame them, but with the age of micro-purchases being a driving force behind games I can’t help but think they’re missing out on revenue they could use to revamp the game. There is some serious potential in Rolplay that could see it thrive once again with the right investment.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Rolplay has an adequate deckbuilder that is influenced by your Hero powers. The deck editor can be found under the Home menu and also has your card Album for unused cards and a way to Train your Hero powers. Dragging and dropping cards into the deck is a simple enough process, you will just have to make sure you have enough Power cards to afford the summoning costs on your cards. Some Power cards or even keyword abilities won’t be available to you until you unlock the ability to use such cards, which requires Training to do so.
Training is actually one of the better features of the game, but I did find there to be way too many effects to keep track of. You spend points to upgrade different variables of the hero. Also, in order to unlock them you need to earn points to spend on training. Points can be earned by facing other players online, but as we’ve already stated, this is a difficult venture. I feel there needed to be other ways to earn the points necessary to level up the Hero powers at the moment.
I often found the best way for me to try and win was to not defend all of the incoming attacks. I would often just have to hope the opponent would not have enough resources to have more creatures than I would at any given time and just constantly attack and deplete their creature numbers. Further, the number of cards you can hold and start with can be increased when you level. I would suggest this as an option quite early on, as the A.I. opponents appear to have this unlocked and this gives them a significant, even unfair, advantage.
Rolplay has most of the formula correct when it comes to making a competent online card game. However the setbacks are fairly major: lackluster artwork, extreme difficulty when trying to beat A.I. opponents, and the lack of continued support and development of the game. Sure, there are plenty of cards, but a lot of them are just +1 or +2 versions of the same card. You can’t really call that a diverse card pool when you get lazy enough to simply increase the stats and keep the picture the same.
I find the game model to be a rather frustrating one. There should be more accessibility for newer players to level up faster and have access to more gold through other means. There is a campaign mode than can be unlocked when you reach level 4 or by joining a Kingdom, but the game is so barren of players I don’t think you’d be accepted into one quickly enough. A quick look at the website and forums will tell you that this game appears to be almost abandoned by the developers. Their last big update was around a year ago and their last message was wishing their players the season’s greetings around Christmas time of 2014.
I can’t really recommend Rolplay at this moment in time. Perhaps back in 2002 when online card games were in short supply, this would have been a major contender — but in today’s fierce market with many AAA titles coming out, like Hearthstone and Mabinogi Duel, it falls very short. There is the potential for this game to have a massive overhaul to bring it into the modern card gaming era, and with new art and investment this game could possibly compete with the best then. However, as it stands, it would appear that Rolplay has seen its best days already, and without the necessary support or updates, it’s going to continue gathering digital dust.
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