by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I spend an inordinate amount of my personal time playing card games. On a personal level, I prefer the chase of CCGs and the strategy that comes with them, Deckbuilders have just as much charm. I spent some time over the last week dipping my toes into a Deckbuilder that I’m fairly new to, in Shards of Infinity. Shards of Infinity is a deck builder by Stone Blade Entertainment, and the PC/Mobile version is developed by Temple Gates Games, who are known for their prowess in designing quality Deckbuilders. The major difference between deckbuilders and CCGs is that nobody has an advantage in terms of what cards they have. All players either have an identical deck or pull from the same deck to create their own personal deck for that game. After that game, the cards return to the communal pool, and once more, nobody has an edge.
In Shards of Infinity, the ultimate goal is to be the last player standing. To do this, you need to build a deck of cards by drawing mercenaries and champions from the communal deck. Champions stay between turns in a spot on your side of the field, and mercenaries can either be Quick-Played (which returns them to the communal deck) or put in your discard pile. When you run out of cards, the discard pile goes into your deck, so you can’t lose by decking out. The tutorial is a nice, easy step-by-step that only takes a few minutes to give you a rundown of what you need to do in the game. That’s great, because while this is a pretty easy game to learn, ultimately like every other deckbuilder, it’s hard to master. You can just slap “Play All” every turn, and pick a random card from the recruit list to pick up, but it’s not going to go down as well as you’d like that way. The recruiting line is five cards that show up every turn, and you use one of your two currencies to purchase them (Crystals). Crystals are cards in your deck, but some character cards also generate Crystals for you to use.
You have another currency of sorts, Power. Power is how you deal damage to your opponent, but if they have Shields, Shields are removed before damage is dealt. Each player also has 50 health starting, but you can heal through the course of the game, with the right cards. So it’s important to take a good look at your hand, because you might be able to do some really fun stuff, like acquire Mastery, or Banish some cards. Mastery caps at 30, but both players start at 0. Certain cards/champions can increase your Mastery, and it’s used to level up cards. You can win without Mastery, but it’s not quite as easy as doing it the intended way. Some cards gain more power, more currency, or other fun, useful effects once you have certain Mastery Milestones. There’s also a card that, at Max Mastery deals Infinite Damage, so that’s probably the best way to round out a match if you’ve been grinding Mastery. If you want access to your better cards, you can recruit cards that have “Banish”. Banish permanently removes a card from your deck (for that game), so you have a better chance of drawing into your good stuff.
I personally don’t advise using Crystals for Banish fodder, but rather your “Blaster”, which deals a minor amount of damage to your opponent. There are cards that work way harder for better results, so I’d look to cards like that or mercenaries that you no longer need/don’t synergize well with your deck. Each game is different, despite having the same cards, which is neat. But the downside to having such a powerful card in the game is that’s ultimately going to be the chased card, the one both players no doubt want to win with. There’s nothing more satisfying than obliterating your opponent for infinite damage. I’ve played enough Magic: The Gathering to know that first-hand. However, this is certainly not a game for all card-game enthusiasts. Those of you who can’t stand not having something to chase, you won’t find happiness here. Shards of Infinity has nothing to chase – no cosmetics, no extra cards, etc. Extra cards would go against the model of the game/genre, so that’s fine.
It’s Time to Duel: 4/5
But I am curious if something will be added to chase later. This is also a retail game, it’s not free-to-play. I think the asking price of ~8 bucks is pretty reasonable. The AI’s difficulty is sound, and I enjoyed simply battering (or trying to) the AI’s defenses down. The matches don’t take a very long time (no more than 20 minutes or so), and it could definitely be a fun thing to stream versus a friend, or just to get a few matches in and challenge yourself. I’d love there to be some kind of cosmetic to chase, such as alternate art cards, animated cards, et cetera, but since this isn’t free-to-play, I don’t really have a dog in that fight. I get everything I need to play the game, and that’s just fine with me. Shards of Infinity is an excellent, sound adaptation of an existing card game. I do wonder when the “Relics” expansion will hit the digital version though because, from all reports, that really shakes the game up in some crazy ways. It’s great, chaotic fun with multiplayer, and I think deckbuilder fans that want something digital/on-the-go will love it.
A code was provided for the purposes of this review.