Archive for February, 2013

Reviving some old projects

Something new on the blog today. I’m trying to recover / revive some of my creative projects. First up is The Lante’lei – stories and character sketches about two all-female elven tribes struggling for survival in a dangerous forest.

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Deity Wars

Overview

Deity Wars is the primary game that I play each day. It’s the first one I login to and the last one I check at the end of the day. As you’ll see in the details below, it’s not necessarily the game play is that revolutionary, I think it’s because I really like the cards / artwork design. Also the ways that you can improve your cards are a little more interesting than average.

  • Pros: Artwork, Card Improvements, Free to Play
  • Cons: Framed Browser Client, Stability Issues, Uninspiring Combat

My Referral Code: TJL2537

Technical Information

  • Client Type: Framed Web Browser
  • Client Size: 18.97MB (plus 13.46 MB cached data)
  • Functionality: On both my Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Tab 10.2, the client works ok most of the time, but I have experienced more crashes with this game than most others. On the tablet, the scaling of the client is better than some others that use the framed browser style client, but the main quest and other windows are still tiny.

Lore / Settting

Deity Wars is a fantasy based game where you choose one of three factions as you sign up. You can choose to be a “knight” in service to Heaven, Hell, or Earth. I chose Earth. Don’t remember why any longer. From what I’ve seen, choosing one over another isn’t that big of a deal since you can still acquire cards from any of the 3 realms and use them equally well.

Gameplay

  • Quests: Quests consist of multiple missions which are tied together usually with an interesting story line. They use the standard MTCG quest combat model, though (see below).
  • Action Points: You have a pool of action points which automatically increases with your level. As with most of these types of games, at first you’ll be leveling very quickly, but I’m nearing 100 as of this writing; so it takes a long time for my AP pool to increase. Also, the regeneration rate is pretty slow. If I drain my pool, it takes almost 4 hours to completely fill up again.
  • Player-vs-Player: You can attack players to either steal the collectible items they have gathered during their quests or just for ranking points and gils (the in-game currency). Battle Points are set at 100 and you use a certain number for each attack. BP regenerates faster than the AP, however, so I don’t see this as being as much of a limitation.
  • Events: I’ve been playing Deity Wars for almost 2 months now. In that time, they’ve had 4 events. The events are fun with special quests and boss raids, but 4 in 2 months is getting a bit much. The last 3 happened one after another. As Events are typically used to encourage you to spend some money on special cards or potions to be able to keep playing, it’s getting a bit wearying to keep having this many events in such a short time.

Combat

  • Quest: To be honest, “combat” in Deity Wars is my least favorite aspect. Quest combat in particular is of the standard “tap-tap-tap-Complete!” variety. You can’t lose a combat in a quest, having a more or less powerful leader card doesn’t matter. The only interesting thing about it is anticipating what loot you might get.
  • Player-vs-Player: PvP combat in Deity Wars pits your chosen Attack team against your opponents chosen Defense team. Since various cards have buffs and debuffs against the other factions, in theory you could customize teams for fighting against opponents who have specific factions in their defense. For instance, you could build a team where the cards have abilities which weaken your opponent’s Hell cards which would work well if your opponent has a lot of Hell cards in their Defense team. However, since you don’t really know what most of your opponents are using for their defenses, most people just end up building teams with the best Attack rating they can and hope it’s good enough to beat their opponent’s Defense rating.
  • Bosses: Fighting bosses in the main quests is done by your Leader card. You can also choose one of your Allies from each of the other 2 factions to help you. The three leader cards then attack the boss. Technically, you can choose to attack or use a potion to heal your team, but I’ve never had a boss fight that was anywhere near close enough to worry about healing.
  • Raids: Raid fights tend to be a bit more interesting. For some events you can bring special event teams which ignore the limits normally placed on your team selection. Many of the more rare cards also have special abilities which improve their attack rating against raid boss mobs. Most raid bosses can’t be taken down by yourself. So you can call for aid from those on your Ally list. Since the first attack against an Ally’s raid boss is “free” (i.e. it doesn’t cost Battle Points), my experience has been that people are generally willing to help out. Also everyone involved in a raid boss fight gets some sort of an award with special rewards going to the person who discovered it, the person who did the most damage, and the person who managed to get in the final blow.

Cards & Artwork

  • Artwork / Style: As I mentioned in the Overview section above, the artwork on the cards is probably the main reason I stick with this game. That and some of the special features in terms of enhancements (see below). The artwork is very much classic fantasy style with a bit of anime tossed in now and then. The cards are generally beautiful although I feel like once in a while they “cheat” some by just changing colors when the cards evolve or adding a few meaningless “sparkles”, but in general I think they have the prettiest cards of all the games I’ve played so far.
  • Limits: The number of cards in your Deck is limited, but increases as you achieve the various Archive achievements. While I have reached some points where I had to go sell off some cards to make room in the Deck, I haven’t felt as constrained in this regard as I have in other games.
  • Improving Cards: Deity Wars has several ways to improve your cards. One (Materials) is unique in my experience so far and allows you to further customize your cards for your specific needs / playing style.
    • Evolving: DW uses the standard evolution methodology. Two cards of the same type can be combined to create a new card which is stronger than either of the cards on its own. Cards can be evolved 3 times. Each time you evolve, however, the level of the card is reset to 1. Also Material slots and equipped materials (see below) ONLY are carried over from the Evolving card, not the Evolver. This means that sometimes you need to be careful about which order you pick the two cards or else you can end up losing a 5 Material card by using it to evolve a 1 Material card by accident.
    • Enhancing: Enhancing cards sacrifices one card to give experience to another. One thing I like about DW is they have special cards (called “Kubaja”) which serve no purpose in your Decks/Teams, but give a lot of XP when being used for enhancements. This tends to mean that my “junk” cards that I collect through missions or card packs can be sold for gil instead of having to balance between money or power.
    • Materials: One thing that is unique about improving cards in DW is the use of Materials. Materials can add either Attack or Defense power to your cards. The bonus can range from a few hundred to a few thousand points; so using Materials wisely is part of building your best deck. Cards have from 1 to 5 slots to be able to hold various Materials. This can mean that even a common card which happens to have 5 material slots can become fairly powerful in your attack or defense teams.
    • Optimizing: There are a couple of things to keep in mind when improving your DW cards.
      • First, your cards can actually create Materials themselves. When a card reaches maximum level, it will automatically generate a material to be used either for that card, or any other in your Deck. This can occur at each evolution stage. It may help to give an example…

Let’s say you have an Elven Archer card that is a Normal (N) rarity. Her max level is 20. So you Enhance that card until it reaches level 20. When you do, you get a Material which provides +500 Attack.

Then, you find another Elven Archer card, you use that to evolve the first one, creating a level 1 Elven Archer+ card, which is also Normal rarity. You enhance that card up to level 20, and now she generates a +750 Defense material.

This occurs again at Elven Archer++. When you level her to 20, you get a +1000 Defense Material.

Finally, you get your fourth Elven Archer card, you evolve your Elven Archer++ (Normal) to a [Sureshot] Elven Archer (NN). She has a max level of 30; so you enhance her again up to that level and get another Material which gives a card +1500 Attack.

With that final material, you’ll also get something called a “Composite Material”. The Composite Material is actually part of a collection. Doing this process often enough with your cards eventually earns you some nice rewards like special items, tickets to draw rare cards, etc.

Now, I’m not 100% sure that the rewards are going to be worth it in the long run for all of your cards. After all, in that example you put 90 levels of XP into that one card. But it does give you an optional goal to reach for.

Also, as I mention in the Material section above, the number of material slots per card can vary randomly. This can mean that even once a card has reached its “final form”, you may decide to evolve it further to increase the number of material slots available.

Let’s continue the example from above, say you have your [Sureshot] Elven Archer (NN), but she only has 2 slots to handle materials. Then you find another Elven Archer (N) card that has 5 material slots. You can evolve the new card with the fully evolved one and you’ll end up with a [Sureshot] Elven Archer (NN) card with 5 material slots. Granted, she’ll be back at level 1, but if you haven’t leveled her yet, it would definitely be worth it!

Free to Play?

I consider Deity Wars to be a good example of the Free-to-Play model. So far, I haven’t found very many things that you need to spend money on. Granted, buying card packs or life potions can help. And you may not be very successful in PvP battles without the super rare cards that are easier to find via the purchased card pack tickets, but I have even found a Rare card using the free card packs they give you each day.

Events

The events so far have been really good. The story lines are engaging, the progress is fairly quick, the raid bosses are challenging, but not obscenely so. I have had fun with them for sure. I do think there have been a few too many (as I mentioned above), but I’ve enjoyed them nonetheless.

Social Aspects

  • Allies: You can have a number of Allies in your list constrained by your level in the game. Allies serve a couple of purposes. First, when a Raid boss appears, you can call your allies for assistance. Second, allies can “yell” at each other. Each Yell gives both the person sending it and the person receiving it 100 yell points. For 200 yell points, you get to draw a free card pack. Most Yell point cards are of fairly low rarity / quality level, but it is still nice to get some free cards just by being friendly with your allies.
  • Guilds: Guilds are more closely aligned than allies. Guilds can earn “Guild XP” when guild members take down raid bosses and other in-game achievements. Those GXP can be spent by the guild leader to buy buffs for the guild members. Guilds are limited in size, but that limit can also be raised using GXP. Special events have also occurred where guilds can rank against each other by engaging in guild wars.

Recommendation

Overall, I guess you can tell that I like Deity Wars. It’s not by accident that it’s the first MTCG I’m reviewing. I’d recommend it as a good example of the genre for anyone who is interested. The Quest and combat systems don’t blaze any new trails, but the card style and the way you can enhance them via Materials are a nice twist that keeps things interesting.