The lights are on
Back in December, PC editor Adam Biessener previewed SolForge, a collectible deckbuilding game. SolForge's Kickstarter success is due in part to its association with Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. It isn't a clone of Wizards of the Coast's nearly 20 year old masterpiece though, bringing fresh ideas to the table.I had played the SolForge demo a while ago, and due to its very limited replay value, I deleted it from my iPad. It wasn't until walking the PAX show floor that I found out that the open beta started a couple of weeks ago.A volunteer helped refresh my memory about the rules. 30 card constructed decks are used to deal damage to opposing creatures. Position matters in this game, and damage carries over from turn to turn (a tracking advantage of being exclusively digital). As cards are played, the next level version gets added to the draw pool. Strength and abilities ramp up significantly, which is why each player starts with a life total of 100 (as opposed to Magic's 20). There are four factions, and each deck can use up to two in any combination. Play moves quickly, but the title is designed for asynchronous matches, just like Stone Blade's extremely popular Ascension deckbuilding game (available as a physical product and on iOS).For a more detailed gameplay description, you can read our December 2012 preview. Much has changed since that was written, and while the mechanics are the same, the feature set has grown.Now that the game is in beta, players can access the deck builder and purchase new booster packs with real money and in-game currency. Each booster pack has three, eight, or ten cards with different rarity distributions depending on how much you spend. Cards evolve throughout the game as they are played and duelists level up in a match. Because the title is only digital, each single card in a booster pack awards all three versions of it.Soon, Stone Bridge will be adding drafting (streamlined for asynchronous play) and tournaments. At present, there are approximately 180 cards available. For reference, this is a bit more than Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 and a paper Magic small set.It's still in beta, but SolForge is shaping up to be a compelling experience that has the potential to bring incremental in-app purchases to a new audience. I've never succumbed to buying lumps of ethereal in-game "gold," but SolForge is testing my will. If it continues to grow, my resolve might very well crumble.SolForge is currently available on iOS and PC. It is a free download, and the title supports cross-platform play.
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