The uniqueness of Faeria is immediately apparent.
Faeria, Abrakam Entertainment's recent contribution to the world of digital collector card games (CCG), features impressive, Go-like territory themes, and a robust single-player mode. The title is a compelling choice for experienced CCG players and beginners alike, although casual players or Twitch viewers may find themselves bored or overwhelmed by the demands of the game. Players of other CCGs, like Hearthstone and Duelyst, however, will still find many elements of Faeria familiar, such as deck-centric gameplay, genre-typical card abilities (direct damage, card draw, etc.), and the standard free-to-play elements like daily quests and a drafting format (called “Pandora” in Faeria).
In Faeria, you have the predictable goal of reducing your opponent's life to zero.
You do so by placing hexagonal lands on the game board, summoning creatures and casting “events” using the game's mana-like resource, called "Faeria," and attacking your opponent. Unlike most other CCG resources, though, players carry their unused Faeria over into subsequent turns. The ability to save Faeria alters the tempo of the game drastically, slowing down the action in the game’s beginning and focusing the gameplay on board development. Additionally, since players are now free to play cards as they like (that is, when it will directly impact the board), deck-building feel less restrictive and more creative,ameliorating some of the need for players to obsessively build decks to play “on curve.”
However, the most distinct and strategically fascinating aspect of Faeria’s gameplay is that, by placing land tiles throughout the course of the game, you build the game boards themselves. Land placement in Faeria is permanent once a card has been positioned by a player (excepting a few cards that have the ability to alter the position or presence of land). As a result, a player who gains a positional advantage over their opponent through land placement will often reap the benefits of this land multiple times per game, and placement mistakes are often so nuanced that they may go completely unnoticed to casual players. Due to these land placement considerations, the early game in Faeria tends to be dominated by players establishing board position rather than engaging in explosive encounters with each other. As addictively complex all of this makes the strategy of Faeria, casual players or viewers may find Faeria slow to start, or matches that seem one-sided once the action begins.
The game's visual design is chock-full of the whimsy one might expect from a game named Faeria, but as striking as the atmosphere and game art are, it is notably lacking in narrative depth.
An opening cut scene vaguely suggests an epic backdrop for why you’re engaging in Faeria’s battles, and occasional references throughout the game hint at characters and plot events not otherwise found in the gameplay. The only discussion of history, or lore that is present, is hidden away on the game's official Wiki page. There, only an intrepid investigator will find a short, metafictional description of the world of Faeria, which is the only explanation to the game’s errant references. Faeria does not have the luxury of having a previously existing universe like Hearthstone, TES: Legends, or Gwent, and, as a result, it needs to incorporate its lore into the actual game in order to fully immerse its players within its universe.
Faeria's gameplay shines, and what it lacks in narrative it more than makes up for in strategy. While Faeria won’t appeal to some casual players and viewers, players that enjoy delving into sophisticated and nuanced gameplay will be amply rewarded.