Feature

Digital Card Games To Watch In 2015

by Daniel Tack on May 05, 2015 at 09:40 AM

Digital card games have come into their own as a massive PC and mobile genre, with more options to pick from than ever. Whether you’re looking for a casual card battler or a full-fledged strategy experience, there’s probably something out there for you. Here are some of the titles you won’t want to miss in 2015 as developers take the genre in new directions on digital platforms, complete with evolving features and continually updated content.

Hearthstone

Blizzard’s digital card game has been around for a bit now, but with a full expansion and two adventure packs under its belt, it’s finally starting to feel fleshed out as the card pool grows. Hearthstone is still relatively young as card games go, so as much as things will change based on new sets coming out, we’re still excited to see what other quirks Blizzard brings to the genre.

Spectator mode is a neat feature to watch your friends win (or lose) from time to time, but we’re most interested in the possibilities lingering on the horizon, such as some kind of team-raiding experience, new classes, or battles featuring more than two players. Wherever Blizzard takes things, it’s sure to be interesting and include many of Warcraft’s iconic characters.

Magic Duels: Origins

Magic: The Gathering has always had a few choices for online play, from the bite-sized Duels of the Planeswalkers titles that make learning the game easy to the robust physical-counterpart Magic: The Gathering Online. The Duels of the Planeswalkers series is changing this year. Instead of annual installments, a single client will be available known as Magic Duels.

This will be a free-to-play platform that will be continually updated as new sets release, so players won’t have to worry about losing their collections each year as they did with the Duels of the Planeswalkers installments. Under the new Magic Duels flag, new features, updates, and cards will all roll out to sync up with physical releases. Two-Headed Giant will be coming back, too. If you’ve been waiting to dive into Magic or had qualms about learning how to play, Magic Duels: Origins looks like it will be an awesome option when it arrives this July.

HEX: Shards of Fate

HEX has recently moved into a beta phase that anyone can hop into for free (though they have been careful to avoid the open beta designation) and has rolled out its first PVE content offerings. While HEX has been around for some time in early access stages – we’re actually coming up on the third set release – the PvE campaigns and content have been some of the most interesting and defining things players have been looking forward to. While dungeons and raids are something we can hopefully look forward to this year, the recently added Frost Ring Arena gives players a taste of some PVE encounters and combat along with equipment drops – items that can fundamentally boost or change the way your cards work.

The Frost Ring Arena also provides a method by which completely free-to-play players can work up collections by selling some of the cool loot and cards they acquire on the auction house. This year will be a significant one for HEX as the long-anticipated PVE content finally begins to take shape alongside more traditional competitive card game offerings like tournaments, drafts, and duels.

Pokémon TCG Online

The Pokémon card game has been around for ages and it’s actually pretty good. It works as both a showcase of all those lovable little critters and a mechanically sound game. The digital incarnation has recently come over to iPad, and it’s a great fit there. Other recent changes to the game have made it a more accessible option for those that don’t play the physical incarnation, with more rewards after each match to help facilitate pack acquisition.

If you’ve never given this game a try before, don’t write it off as a cutesy kid’s game – while kids can certainly enjoy plopping down some big evolutions, there’s plenty of traditional card game mechanics at work in the form of card advantage, resource management, planning, and deckbuilding. It’s unusual that a game works so well on multiple fronts, so if you’re looking for something new to take a look at this year on the digital card game front, Pokémon might be worth a try.

Infinity Wars

Infinity Wars has some cool concepts and an awesome draft system that gives players a deluge of content to tackle as they build up their collections. In addition, there is a single-player campaign and a number of ways to play that you don’t see in any other digital card game, including a mode where players play with cards from both players’ decks, leading to a whole new method of deck design. Available on Steam, we’re super curious to see where this digital card game heads next – with so many options out there and even more coming, it has done a great job at standing out so far.

Card Hunter

Lots of updates have been hitting this cool D&D/tabletop digital card game. Not only does it scratch the loot collection and level up itch, but moving your wizards and warriors around a digital tabletop rolling dice and drawing cards is surprisingly satisfying. Don’t be scared off by the fact that it’s a free-to-play browser game – the single-player adventures are loads of fun and there are some cool multiplayer elements, as well.

Of all the titles in this list I feel this one was skipped over a bit when it launched, and it’s only gotten better as new content has rolled out. I highly recommend it, and can’t wait to see where it goes next.

SolForge

SolForge kicked things off on the mobile digital card game scene by being accessible and fast when it arrived, and now with a ton of sets and content available already, SolForge is moving in new directions. A new single-player campaign allows players to seek out and collect powerful cards that were previously only available through packs, players can now “cardshare” with friends to greatly bolster their available card pools, and the competitive options have become more streamlined than ever from constructed play to drafts.

New sets continue to roll out on a regular basis, and while we can expect new cards with any digital card game, we’re curious to see where the campaign takes things and how the competitive scene continues to take shape.

Prismata

One thing people are always chirping about in regard to CCGs is the random factor that goes along with drawing cards and building decks. Well, Prismata does something different in that regard – both players start with the same resources and share the same card pool, so forget the random elements. In this way it’s sort of like a deckbuilding game combined with traditional real-time strategy resource management.

There’s a static pool available every game, but there’s also a rotating block of other cards that change from game to game – so while the core cards will be present and purchasable in every match, the shifting card pool makes every game its own unique strategy battle.

Scrolls

Mojang’s digital tactical faux-tabletop card game is interesting in the space it occupies. There have been plenty of updates and changes to the game since players gained access, including a new faction, a draft format, and more. Players conjure up armies to break through opposing defenses on lanes and take out critical targets for a win, there’s a good deal of strategy, planning, and positioning involved.

While the gameplay is a bit slower and more deliberate than many pure digital collectible card games, Scrolls has a big opportunity to grow in the next year. While we don’t know what’s planned, all of the upgrades thus far have been nice additions – let’s see what happens next!

Duelyst

Combining the traditional digital collectible card game with a fast-paced tactical format, Duelyst meshes tabletop wargaming with casting costs and cool animated creatures. Placement is paramount on the game board, and matches play out surprisingly fast for a game with tactical sensibilities.

Your main character moves around the board and battles alongside minions, and there are plenty of structures and spells to add to your deck to make things more interesting. Highly stylized factions allow players to embrace various playstyles and strategies.

Might & Magic: Duel of Champions

Since release, Might & Magic Duel of Champions has undergone plenty of significant changes. Not only have there been a variety of new expansions and mechanics introduced, but big design changes have made the game more accessible than ever, including an improved new player experience and the ability to acquire specific cards instead of simply ripping open packs in the hopes of finding what you need. Might & Magic includes a variety of mechanics that allow it to differentiate itself significantly from many other digital card games. One of these is the fact that there are no land or resource cards. Players simply get to add a point each turn to might, magic, or destiny and play cards based on these allocations leading to a wide variety of potential decks.

There are tactical elements in play as well – cards can be flying, ranged, or melee on the game board. Where the game goes next is anyone’s guess, but this is one of the most consistently updated and improved free-to-play digital card game options out there.