Would you believe it took this long for me to come up with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite first impressions? Of course you do. You’ve been here long enough to know that we take a while to get around to things sometimes. Honestly, I fully intended to cover this game when it first released. If I look back at my notes, I’m sure I’ll find at least one mention of the game in there over the last five years.
Then, I fell victim to the online troll factory that slammed the game as “not as good as the others” and it fell off of my radar. I genuinely forgot it existed until I went searching for a way to play MvC 2 and found out that I can buy the deluxe edition on Steam for like 11 bucks. Or I could. Looks like I missed the sale by a day. Hmm, that puts a new wrinkle into things.
Well, Isn’t That A Pickle?
I’m not paying 40 bucks for something that will be 8 or 11 again most likely by the end of the month. Instead, I’m gonig to set up an alert for the next time it goes on sale and we’ll all have to wait for my Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite first impressions. Until then, I’ll keep playing X-Men Arcade.
I was watching Brian Kibler’s stream about a week ago and he was playing a card game other than Hearthstone. It wasn’t Magic, either. Now, that would be news. It was called Eternal and, from what I could gather, it appeared to be a cross between Magic and Hearthstone. As I explained it to Chris, it has the mana and interaction on your opponent’s turn of Magic, but the quick matches of Hearthstone.
I know that might sound antithetical. Hell, Chris and I have spent many a text conversation discussing how much better Magic is than Hearthstone for a variety of reasons. The only thing that we agree is better in Hearthstone is the mana system. Gaining one mana per turn instead of hoping on a wing and a prayer that you curve properly is the best thing about Hearthstone. We tried a version of Magic with the Hearthstone rules and, it turns out, being able to do stuff every turn is a good thing.
Nevertheless, I watched the stream and the game. I also chatted with several others since Kibler’s is one of the few streams that doesn’t descend into spam/meme chaos every day and you can have a conversation. It was especially easy since only about half his viewers care about Eternal or don’t care at all what game he’s playing. They politely answered my questions, as well as questions that others had. After about a half an hour, I was convinced. I needed to try this game. I was going to download it via the Steam client and try it. Then, something even better happened. I learned that it was on mobile. I downloaded it, started playing through the tutorial, and immediately texted Chris.
This whole game is good. In fact, it’s great. One of the selling points was that it is very F2P friendly. I’m still the grumpy old man gamer who refuses to pay good money for digital goods/currency, so if a game doesn’t let me compete without dropping hard earned cash, I’m not playing. I was skeptical at first, but that skepticism soon faded. The tutorials give away starter decks, which isn’t different from Hearthstone on the surface. Underneath, though, it only takes 4 wins to earn a whole deck, where Hearthstone makes you play through 10 levels of the character to get all of the basic cards.
There are also puzzle levels that teach you about the basics of the game and give, as far as I know, 20 gold per. I have only finished one of them as of this writing. The reason for that is because I am having so much damn fun playing the game. Who wants to read the instructions when you can just be out there slinging spells and minions at your opponent’s face?
There are a ton of game modes in the game. In addition to the typical casual and ranked versus modes, they figured out a way to do an actual draft mode where you don’t have to wait for people to sit down at your “table”. There is also a PvP mode called “Event”, which has a special rule and loot attached to it. While most come to a card game to test their mettle against other people, guys like me are perfectly content beating the snot out of the overmatched AI. Thankfully, Eternal takes care of us with two single player modes. In “Gauntlet”, you choose a constructed deck and fight against AI until you win 7 games or lose 1. “Forge” is a draft like mode similar to Hearthstone Arena where you pick from 3 cards to build a deck and then fight the AI until you win 7 or lose 2. The difference here is that you get to keep all cards drafted.
That brings me back to the best part of Eternal. The individual who told me that the game was very F2P friendly was not lying. Nearly every day you are getting at least one pack. The packs are full. None of this 5 cards per pack nonsense. Modes cost more than Hearthstone, but you are also compensated better for performing in them. I won 7 games in Forge and got the 2,000 gold entry plus in rewards. I also received a couple of packs for my trouble. There is no problem in building a decent to good collection in this game.
In keeping with my pie in the eye optimistic gamer attitude, there isn’t much that I can categorize as bad in this game. The most obvious is that the mana system is like Magic. Sure, they give you less of a chance of flooding and screwing with one mulligan of your opening hand and by limiting the number of influence (mana) you can draw in the opener and mulligan. Also, there is a card that lets you draw influence for the cost of one. Still, the flood and screw will not be denied and some games you just sit there and stare as your opponent beats you mercilessly.
The only other “bad” in the game is mostly likely just due to the fact that I’m a noob and don’t have the time to dedicate to getting better at drafting. Because of how it is set up, the skill cap for drafting is much higher than it is in Magic the Gathering. Again, instead of sitting down with a pod of players, you are “passed” a pack that has been opened sometime, somewhere, by someone and had cards taken from it. So, you can’t really pick up on signals or bully players off of strategies. What you can do is draft much more with synergy in mind. I just don’t have the skill to do it, so my only draft has ended with a very embarrassing 0-3 and I haven’t been back to try again.
I always worry with these types of games. Before you know it, the developer pulls the plug and you are left with a stagnant game or, worse, one that gets shut down completely. Now, honestly, I haven’t seen either of those happen with any of the games that I play. They must all maintain a high enough player base to justify keeping the servers open.
I’m not saying that Eternal will shut down. However, I am worried that it won’t be able to maintain the player base in the face of all of these other games. One thing that it has going for it is that it is mobile and it seems to be quick paced, which has so far been a recipe for success with these types of games. The other side is that Magic is releasing their new digital property and it appears to occupy a lot of the same space as this game. I hope that Eternal can hold its own, but if not, it’s going to be ugly for me.
Eternal is a fun game. I have been playing it regularly for the last week. Unlike Hearthstone, which I log in to every couple of days to clear out quests and don’t really have much fun playing, I lose hours to Eternal and don’t regret it one bit. I know that it won’t ever reach Hearthstone levels of popularity because Blizzard just knows how to hook and then keep people running on that treadmill. However, I have had no problem in finding a match any time I log on and play to do the daily win quest.
Eternal is a cheap gamer’s game. They advertise it as a game where you can collect every card without spending any money. While that is probably true for Hearthstone and I’ve done pretty well by it, Eternal’s quest rewards are just an embarrassment of riches and I don’t doubt that I’ll have most, if not all, cards in a relatively short period of time.
Eternal is a well designed game. It is made and distributed by a company that employs prominent names in the gaming community. While that doesn’t always work out, I think of them as the Image of gaming. Image broke off from Marvel and DC to allow their creators to keep their creations and market them as they see fit. It didn’t work for everyone because not everyone is a marketing genius or able to keep a tight schedule. However, Image is still around, they are still allowing their creators full reign, and they are still making great comics. I hope to see the same from Dire Wolf.
(Editor’s Note: TLDR: It’s not Saving Private Ryan, but that might be a good thing.)
An odd coincidence happened the other day. I was sitting in my living room with a friend. We were trying to find some motivation to go disc golfing. Don’t misunderstand me. We love to go out and throw frisbees around the forest. It’s just that we are both getting older and require a little more to get going. Also, because he and his wife went overseas for the last two years, we have quite a bit of catching up to do.
While conversing, he again noticed my Magic cards and we discussed teaching him how to play, he asked why some cards have the holo sticker and others don’t, and then he mentioned that we should put together an NCAA league (or whatever its called) for us and friends. I replied that I’d have to pick up a new system and the game, but that I’d absolutely love to do something like that. I’ve often done the franchise mode in those games, solo, and I think it would be a blast to have company as I ran a prominent college football program into the ground.
Of course, none of this is indirectly relevant to the coincidence. It is, as we say in “the biz” (What Biz? You might ask. “The Biz.” C’mon, keep up.) setting the stage. We continued to talk about games and gaming and geek culture. He’s not a full fledged member of the community, but he does share some of our passions. Often, I’m surprised when he displays these geek tendencies even thought I should know better by now that we come in all shapes and sizes. That reminds me. We need to sit down and watch the new Godzilla movie together since it released while they were gallivanting around the Middle East and Europe. Also, I think I might have talked him into a midnight showing of Star Wars Episode VII. I’m not sure about that one. After all, I did have to explain to him the sequencing of the first six movies. Oh well, even if I don’t get a midnight showing, I will take the boys.
None of this is setting the stage, no matter what “Biz” you’re talking about. That was all just my usual easily distracted ramblings that will often interrupt my articles. Still, they are all a part of the weird and wonderful stew of ideas, thoughts, and dreams that live in my head. It may not all be relevant, but I promise that it is all important in one way or another.
My tendency to forget the geekiness of this particular friend manifested in other ways during the conversation. Ultimately, it led to the surprising coincidence upon which this article is based. See, all important and we eventually make it back to the point. While talking, he asked me if I ever played “Company of Heroes”. I had to verify that he meant that particular game because we had never discussed the game previously.
It was offered as a free weekend game a couple of weeks ago on Steam. As I often do, I not only tried the game, but I bought it after only playing through the tutorial. you can understand, then, my surprise when this friend who has little use for video games outside of the occasional NCAA football game asked about a game that I only recently discovered and began to play. To be fair, he seemed almost as surprised when I answered yes and told the story of how I started playing.
As with many of my Steam purchases, I played the game extensively in the first two days, enjoyed myself, and bought the package with the game, sequel, and DLC. Since then, I’ve loaded the game, maybe, twice for a total of about an hour and a half. that’s not to say that I don’t like the game. In fact, I found the tutorial enjoyable and the play through of the Normandy invasion was decent, though not as chaotic as presented in Saving Private Ryan. Yes, having seen only that dramatized version of the events, this did not live up to the immersive experience. Sure, it is a cheap game, but there are good voice actors. Maybe they spent all of their money on that and did not have enough left over for cut scenes.
Additionally, and this came up in our conversation (I think), the AI sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. More on that in a minute. After coming to terms with our individual surprise that the other played the game, he cryptically referred to some part of the game that he absolutely despised. “I love the entire game, except for this one thing.” Like the Meatloaf song, he never identified the what this one thing was.
(Before you write in to tell me what a moron I am for not getting the Meatloaf song, just stop. I get it. I’m just taking a bit of poetic license to make my point.)
I’m fairly sure that he was referring to the AI sometimes breaking to the point of turning a sure win into a loss, but I can’t be positive. He danced around the issue saying that he only played multiplayer against his brother. When I said that my experiences in online gaming have left me scarred and unwilling to venture too quickly into such an environment, he scoffed, implying that people who play the game single player are noobs unworthy of consideration as serious pretend Army generals. What can I say? When you find a role that suits you, embrace it and play it to the best of your ability. I dare say that few embrace the role of noob more fully nor play it better than me.
While storming the beach with my little green army men, I saw some issues with the AI. more accurately, issues with the AI interrupted the second part of the D-Day invasion as I moved inland. My guys, who carefully followed every command while ducking bullets and mortar shells to get to safety (relatively speaking, of course) suddenly became so stupid and suddenly had no self-preservation instinct.
As I baby sat one group of soldiers in their attempts to eradicate the Nazi roaches from the map, another company of “heroes” calmly stood completely still while the Nazi scum that I had commanded them to eradicate shot them calmly in the face. The whole scene was quite the calm massacre on the battlefield as I stared in complete disbelief at the horror unfolding on my computer screen.
Ultimately, good triumphed over evil, but it was made much more difficult due to the accuracy of Dark Helmet’s assertion that “Good is stupid”. I know the game was very inexpensive, so I shouldn’t complain,but that sequence was incredibly frustrating. I can’t imagine how angry I’d be if the bug caused me to lose an online match against another person. Losing to a timely top deck or costly misclick in Magic or Hearthstone is enough to push me right to the brink, so that might just send me over the edge.
Unfortunately, the game hasn’t been able to crack my daily rotation and I haven’t played a single minute of the game since the disaster on D-Day. Surprisingly, that has not factored into the decision. I just have a limited time to play and I too often make terrible choices about what to do with that time. Instead of trying a new game, I spend too much of that time in a futile attempt to convince myself that Hearthstone is a fun game and not a complete waste of time and resources. I won’t say that has inspired me. Nor will I make any promises to play the game more. Those promises too often go unfulfilled. I won’t even mention Fallout 3 and how Fallout 4 is actually becoming a thing.
I will finish by saying that I really did like the game in spite of the potentially game breaking bug. I’m not usually a fan of war games, but I do enjoy a good turn based strategy game once in a while. The story alone might be enough to keep me playing. Also, who knows, maybe we will actually follow through on getting together for some multiplayer action. Do you notice a common theme among my recent articles? I’m really itching to play some games against actual live humans. Chris and I have not been able to have our monthly nerd nights and the family has been really busy with other things to even consider finishing our Star wars campaign that we started and I wrote about last week. Hopefully that all changes soon. Mid term is over for school. As I write this, my friend who plays Company of heroes texted me saying that he wants to try to set up a game soon. Guess I need to put aside the Hearthstone and practice with some Army men.
(Editor’s Note: Please report any one you see playing only basic mountains in their deck. If you see something, say something. Together, we can defeat this red menace.)
I have not been a fan of Magic Origins so far. Initially, I wanted the set to be good. I got back to a point where I enjoyed the game again and I hoped that Origins might keep the momentum going. Then, the spoilers started. Nothing caught my interest as particularly interesting and my interest waned again.
Mono red became stronger in standard with the set. The ridiculous decks proliferated both in the events I watched and also the games I played against people online. I just started autoconceding every time I saw a mountain played by the opponent. I went from indifferent to actively hating the game and my red opponents.
Thankfully, two things happened that puled me back from the brink of pulling the plug on Magic altogether. Chris and I expanded the play group with decidedly mixed results. The latest (and by all accounts last) version of the Duels series finally released at the end of last month. This has actually led to an unquestionable increase in my Magic habit without any of the previous negative side effects.
I might have already mentioned that I was so excited for the new game and promised return of features taken from the previous version that I downloaded and installed it on the day that it released. My favorite part of these games has always been the story. Wizards recently announced that Origins represented a new era in storytelling for them. If this game is any indication, then they have succeeded. The story has always been secondary in Magic, but as I played through, I saw the story come into sharp focus through the writing and card art. Five separate characters brought together by similar destinies to create a cohesive tale that will only become bigger with the coming sets.
I also said in that same article that the inclusion of daily quests did not entice me to log in to the game. That has actually turned out to be false. I log in daily, build a deck to match the quest, and play a few games. The games are actually quick enough that I don’t feel locked into them as I sometimes do when playing a actual game of Magic.
They also borrowed from the Hearthstone model and allow you to buy “packs” (only 6 cards in each pack) with gold earned from quests and victories. Opening these packs has exposed me to cards that I thought were interesting before and might make for cool combos, but never actually got to play them. An example is the new Jace and Sphinx’s Tutelage or the new Liliana in a sacrifice deck. That led me to try to come up with some new and different deck ideas to try.
I only have one complaint about the game, but it is a big one. Past versions of the series, but not last years, have included puzzles based on board states similar to the ones that Gathering Magic(click the link for an example) does weekly. I actually just learned about the Gathering Magic ones a couple of weeks ago and spent thewhole weekend trying to figure out the Elemental one. I did, by the way, and the one for last week, too. I will take a look at this week’s in the next day or two.
So, it’s a bit of a bummer that they got rid of that feature. I would replay the game several times over in an attempt to complete the puzzle. At least in the last version, they also had achievements to chase, too. All of that kept me plenty busy once I finished the story. The potentially good news is that Wizards has said that they will keep the game updated via patches when each new set releases. The possibility exists that they could patch the puzzles back in, too. Here’s to hoping.
Decent story. Well worth playing the game once just for the story.
Almost Magic gameplay. You get the cards, but it is for a casual/new experience, so some of the more intricate rules are diminished or eliminated altogether.
Free to play with a gold/daily quest system very much like Hearthstone. I haven’t spent a dime in the game and already have a sizable and eclectic collection.
Replayability, if you aren’t interested in the “competitive” games is severely limited.
No puzzles again. Holding out hope that they patch them in at some point.
Can’t import your collection from previous versions.
Overall, it is a fun game, completely free, and as close to actual Magic as such a casual game allows. Download it, play through the story, and have fun for a few days. There are far worse ways to spend your time.
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