Out Now: Cards, Adventures, and More Cards07 Apr 2017 6
March's torrent of great game releases has finally slowed, leaving us with a relatively quiet week. Quiet doesn't mean barren, however, and this week saw new cards for two CCGs (new cards are almost always good) and a fun puzzle and card game to check out. I've also taken the opportunity to slip in a couple March releases that weren't covered during the flood of March games.
Hearthstone's new card expansion, Journey to Un'Goro has released. This journey includes 135 new cards featuring primordial creatures, plants, dinosaurs, and elementals—all super deadly—as well as the Adapt keyword, and quests. Adapt is an ability that allows you choose one of three randomly chosen zero cost cards that will confer a new ability on a creature. There are ten in total and they add things like Taunt, Divine Shield, a +3 to attack, or Windfury. More abilities are cool, but the random nature of this will make Adapts effectiveness really swingy. Quests are played normally but don't do much until a requirement is met, which triggers a significant reward. There are nine quests and each is tied to a class and naturally there's some synergy to what that class does well. The Hunter quest, The Marsh Queen, requires you to play seven one-cost minions at which point you get Queen Carnassa. Most of the quests feel like build-around-me cards but some will serve nicely as an alternate win condition for decks that would otherwise exist.
Un'Goro is all about really old, really frightening stuff. A big part of that is the dinosaurs of the set, twenty-seven in total, though a couple of those are the result of quests. They are all pretty big, under-costed, and many will require quick answers or they will likely just end the game.
Elementals are another new tribe joining Hearthstone through the expansion. Their ranks will swell with twenty-five new elementals joining eighteen creatures that are being reclassified as elementals. Summoning an elemental leaves all kinds of energy swirling about, which can empower elementals cast the next turn via Battlecry abilities
With the new expansion comes Hearthstone's second ever Standard rotation. Cards from expansions released in 2015—Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and The League of Explorers—will no longer be playable in the Standard format. Blizzard is also pulling some notable cards from the Classic set including Azure Drake (a staple five drop), Sylvannas Windrunner (great deathrattle), and Ragnoras the Firelord (very popular finisher). Standard is sure to change in the coming weeks as a result of rotation, which is sure to be welcomed by many players.
Elder Scrolls: Legends - The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood (iOS)
Hearthstone isn't the only CCG with new cards out this week. Elder Scrolls: Legends just launched a couple weeks ago and is already introducing The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood expansion, a story-based expansion to the game. It includes 25 new story missions where you can earn playsets for 40 new cards featuring members of the Dark Brotherhood and the story of their downfall.
The game is still very new, so The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood cards don't introduce much in the way of new mechanics.
There are some nice new removal options, including a way for Strength decks to remove big threats and clear the lane in front of a big threat of their own.
The expansion also introduces some new equipment, prophecy cards, and sometimes both combined…
The Dark Brotherhood story is split into three maps and the first is available for $7.99 or 1,000 gold. Once complete the other two maps become available for purchase. All three can be purchased up front for $19.99. Elder Scrolls: Legends is out now for PC and iPad and will be coming soon to Android tablets, Mac OS, and mobile phones.
Tim Flowers, maker of fun word game Paperback among others, has released Turning as a rare Android first title. In Turning you place tiles on a grid and each tile does something interesting—blowing up other tiles, launching a ball at another tile, bouncing a ball off a wall, or multiplying one ball into many. Your goal is to create chain reactions where you clear many tiles in a row, thus earning a big score. There's a bit of a learning curve here, but once you get the hang of plotting your moves out ahead of time and setting up combos, it's a challenging and fun experience. Turning is free-to-play ten times on Android and then you'll have to pay to continue. It'll be coming to iOS in a couple weeks.
Onirim is a card game brought to digital life by Z-Man Games and Asmodee Digital. In it you are trapped in a dream maze being stalked by nightmares and you must find eight doors in order to escape. It features Solitaire-style gameplay — no cooperative mode at this point in the digital version — in which you must play out sets of same-color cards in order to find a door of that color. Standing in your way are ten Nightmare cards that, when drawn, make you do mean things like discard your hand, move five cards from your deck to your discard pile, or surrender high-value key cards. Nightmares are jerks. If you run out of cards before finding all eight doors you lose. Onirim is a fast and fun game with a good amount of challenge and worth a look for fans of Solitaire-like card games.
Here's our March release catch up titles…better late than never!
Orphan Black: The Game (iOS)
Tie-in games can be very hit or miss. Orphan Black is a turn-based puzzle game reminiscent of the "GO" franchise. It follows some of the events of the TV series about clones, the ethics of cloning, and of course global conspiracies. I haven't watched the show so I don't know how deeply tied the narrative is, but I gotta think some of the scenes could be considered spoilers. The gameplay is all about maneuvering turn by turn avoiding traps, outrunning foes, and sometimes leading foes into traps as you work toward the exit of each level. Levels have a move counter to force some efficiency into your actions but sadly, you can only undo the very last turn. You might say that this game about clones is an "Orphan Black: GO" clone itself, but it does introduce some new elements as you get further into the game. If you're a fan of the show and like the GO games this feels like a no-brainer. Even if you aren't a fan and just dig that style of play, it's probably worth checking out.
If you enjoyed "Stranger Things" on Netflix, or are otherwise into paranormal horror teen misadventures based in the 1980s, there's a really good chance Oxenfree is for you. A group of teens, some friends some recently introduced, go camping on the beach and decide to explore some caverns where strange radio frequencies lead to stranger, supernatural happenings. I don't want to spoil anything, but can say the plot is gripping and the dialogue is surprisingly strong, with really good voice acting. It feels like actual teens, rather than some old dude's impression of a teen. You're faced with decisions that end up mattering and there are multiple endings to play through and discover. Oxenfree is very good if you like narrative-driven adventure games with a strong social/group component. It's also super creepy. I defy you to watch this trailer and not get the chills.