Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

How The Witcher 3′s card game within a game was brought to life

CD Projekt Red’s Damien Monnier and Rafal Jaki explain the background of The Witcher 3′s collectible card game Gwent. …

Gamasutra News

The pros and cons of collectible card game-based design

“A big part of CCGs is letting the player personalize their experience. The most straightforward approach is having a deck or deck-like system that the player picks and chooses from.” It doesn’t end there, though. …

Gamasutra News

Chronicle: RuneScape Legends Takes The Iconic Game Into The Digital Card Realm

The digital card game market is exploding on PC and mobile, and old-school MMORPG RuneScape isn’t falling behind. Next week on March 23, everyone can get in on the action with the launch of open beta. Progress won’t be wiped for official launch, making this a soft launch.

The game attempts to do something markedly different than many others available today by incorporating board game elements into the mix, and having players essentially build their own decks to beat. While a dragon or massive monster might be difficult to defeat, including them in your deck can confer massive rewards to your character as well over the course of a match. In essence, players are building decks for their own champion to beat, not a deck to defeat the opponent.

There’s still plenty of room for interaction with the enemy though, and that can take place in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly. Perhaps you’re the type that wants to fight the opponent directly with battle cards, or maybe you just want to buff enemy monsters – making it harder for the opponent to fulfill their plans. If you’re playing as the thief, maybe you’re focused on stealing enemy resources to hinder their progression and resource acquisition. A multitude of playstyles are available to explore.

As many trading card game enthusiasts know, draft mode is one of the big draws. RuneScape Legends will be adding a draft mode soon that will allow players to cut their teeth in a limited format. Instead of a single player campaign mode to help players get used to the game, Jagex will be using single player challenges to get players tackling difficult achievements. These achievements confer special titles and unique cosmetics that will give players the opportunity to add a bit of signature flair to their champions.

While the digital trading card game market almost feels like it’s bursting at the seams right now, RuneScape Legends is doing some things that should help it stand out, by embracing new forms of gameplay that combine board game elements and creating your own deck to defeat. We’ll see where the cards fall next week! – The Feed

Game Freak’s Pocket Card Jockey Blends Solitaire, Horse Racing, And Animal Husbandry

Pokémon developer Game Freak is reminding fans it isn’t a one-trick pony. The studio released Tembo the Badass Elephant last year, and it has something galloping to 3DS in May.

Pocket Card Jockey is a blend of solitaire and horse racing. As players clear cards from the board, they’ll give their thoroughbred a burst of speed.

Horses will level up and, eventually, you’ll want to retire them to a farm. Once you have a couple of aging racers, you can breed them to continue the winning lineage.

Pocket Card Jockey is coming in May for 3DS. – The Feed

Pokkén Tournament Lands In March, First Run Copies Come With Shadow Mewtwo Amiibo Card

Pokkén Tournament has a release date in North America. Nintendo has announced that the game will drop in March for Wii U.

The Bandai Namco-developed Pokémon fighting game was released in Japanese arcades last year. First run copies of the home version will come with an Amiibo card featuring Shadow Mewtwo. Tapping the card on the gamepad unlocks the character for use immediately.

We’ve inquired with Nintendo if the Mewtwo card can substitute for an Amiibo figure in Smash Bros. We’ll update should we receive a response.

Pokkén Tournament will be out on March 18 for Wii U. Nintendo will also be re-releasing the original Pokémon Red, Blue,and Yellow on February 27. At the same time, a special New 3DS will hit stores with Red and Blue pre-loaded.


Our Take
Provided Nintendo and Bandai Namco support Pokkén Tournament as they did Smash, this could a huge game for the publisher. However, it needs to start ramping up promotion here in North America to explain just what this game is. It doesn’t have the immediate recognition of a Smash or a core Pokémon game. – The Feed

The Elder Scrolls Legends Digital Card Game Delayed Until 2016

As the days remaining in 2015 wind down, we’re left looking at a list of games slowly being officially nudged into 2016. The latest is Bethesda’s answer to Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls Legends.

The digital collectible card game was announced at the publisher’s E3 press conference. Since then, little information has been shared, which already left us pretty convinced it wasn’t going to be out in 2015.

Yesterday, Bethesda vice president for public relations and marketing Pete Hines addressed the matter directly on Twitter in response to a fan.

While this isn’t a huge surprise, anything we can move to our 2016 release list from the 2015 roster is one left unanswered question. You can read up on the announcement from E3 for more.

[Source: Pete Hines on Twitter via IGN]


Our Take
I’m interested to see how Bethesda continues to expand into the mobile space. The opening of the new studio in Montreal working (at least in part) in mobile gaming will likely be a piece of this game’s puzzle. – The Feed

The Latest Mobile Card Games You Shouldn’t Miss

If you turn to your iPad or phone for your digital-card-game fix, chances are you’re already dabbling in titles like Hearthstone. Next year should be bringing plenty of new contenders in the expanding mobile digital-card-game market, but recently two new options are already competing for your collection attention: Mabinogi Duel and World of Tanks: Generals.

Mabinogi Duel has all kinds of PVE and PVP activities for players of all skill levels and collection sizes, and thankfully the options trickle out over the course of a player’s first 10 level ups to make things more manageable. There’s a version of “draft” as well, so you can try out tons of strong cards and combos for free during daily missions against the A.I. or against other players, and once you think you’ve got a deck or two good enough for serious competition you can compete for large rewards in the main real-time PVP arena. A single-player campaign provides what amounts to numerous “puzzle” challenges, where the player must work with a certain set of cards to defeat special encounters.

You can even trade with other players on the go in Mabinogi Duel by linking up. While certainly there are some very strong cards available that may take plenty of packs to crack to nab, I’ve been competing completely free-to-play and I’m fairly happy with my progress – I can hold my own quite nicely in each tournament, putting me in enough prizes to keep my collection growing at a nice rate. Matches are (mostly) fast and fun, and the UI is polished and clean. Mabinogi Duel definitely has a lot more strategy to it than the neverending slew of “card brawlers” that plague the mobile marketplace, combining deckbuilding, resource management, placement, and timing as critical factors for success. If you are into the whole digital-card-game scene, I would highly recommend giving it a try.

World of Tanks: Generals is available on multiple platforms, including iOS (you can play in your web browser!). Players smash into each other’s headquarters with tanks, artillery shells, and other special cards as they accumulate resources and edge out the opponent for board control. It’s an interesting combination of tactical battling and card-game mechanics, especially as players dive down into each nation’s research trees – allowing for diverse strategies to come into play. 

While it’s fine to just create a variety of tanks and push forward into the enemy’s territory, other card mechanics are available to explore once your collection begins to grow and your loadout opportunities become more diverse. Things start out rather simple with stock tanks and cards, but more interesting strategies await those that choose to dive in, such as taking advantage of units on the field, discard, or casualties. Research systems are similar to World of Tanks and other Wargaming offerings, with premium accounts accumulating resources faster than true free-to-play users. World of Tanks: Generals is a nice lightweight addition to the digital-card-game scene, and is definitely worth a checkout if you’re a fan of the rest of Wargaming’s suite. – The Feed

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The Video Game Reboot Report Card

Over the past several years, reboot fever has hit the entertainment industry. Whether you're talking about film reboots like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy or J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films, there's no denying that Hollywood has been riding this wave to the fullest. The video game industry has also decided to use the idea of rebooting a franchise to reinvigorate some of its most well-known properties that have run a little dry. Sometimes, it's little more than a marketing term, as we saw with this year's Need for Speed "reboot." Other times, however, it means an exciting new direction for a franchise that has either run out of ideas or has found itself left behind by modern industry trends. Unfortunately, for every Dark Knight trilogy, there's at least one Fantastic Four equivalent in gaming.

Check out how some of the various reboots of the game industry have fared over the years and let us know which ones you loved and hated the most.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
After several awful 3D releases in the classic gothic action franchise, Konami, Mercury Steam, and Kojima Productions nailed it with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Superb action, strong platforming, and innovative boss fights deliver an awesome experience for both fans of the classic games as well as newcomers to the franchise. Unfortunately, the sequel failed to carry that momentum.

Reboot Success: High | Our Review

Bomberman: Act Zero
Konami and Hudson Soft tried to go for a much darker take on the Bomberman franchise, but it unfortunately blew up in their faces. The resulting game was a technical disaster that did away with much of what made the Bomberman series so much fun in the first place. Add in some long load times, a poor soundtrack, and a stupidly-named "First-Person Mode" in which you play in third-person view, and you have a game that is just plain bad.

Reboot Success: Low

The leap from strategy game to first-person shooter was jarring for fans of the much-loved strategy series, but those who gave it a shot found a competent shooter that features a decently long single-player campaign, as well as a separate co-op campaign. Unfortunately, predictable mission structure prevented this game from being anything too special, but it was an interesting attempt to branch out the Syndicate series to a whole new genre.

Reboot Success: Medium | Our Review

Blitz: The League
After losing the NFL license to EA's exclusivity deal with the NFL, Midway and Point of View decided to try and stick it to the man with this over-the-top reinvention of the already bombastic sports franchise. Blitz: The League upped the brutality of the play and tried to shine a light on the darker side of professional football. Have a star player get hurt in the middle of a big game? Take him to the sideline and inject him with steroids to get him back out there! Blitz: The League was also full of explicit language and nicknames that poke fun at NFL players' less marketable sides (Ron Mexico, anyone?), giving it an "M for Mature" rating from the ESRB. While this game was a satisfyingly brutal arcade football experience, the sequel was less enjoyable and didn't do well enough to keep the series going.

Reboot Success: Medium

Up next: Devils, princes, and aliens. We look at more attempts to revitalize long-running franchises on the next page. – The Feed

Labyrinth Preview – An Intriguing Mash-Up Of Tactical RPGs and Collectible Card Games

The astounding success of Hearthstone has kicked off a gold
rush in the digital collectible-card-game genre, and upcoming games like Duelyst
and 5th Cell's recently announced Anchors
In The Drift
are exploring ways to blend CCG mechanics into other
experiences. Genre fans can add a promising new project from Free Range Games to
their list of anticipated titles. Labyrinth is an upcoming free-to-play roleplaying
that sports an intriguing mash-up of deck building, turn-based strategy
combat, and the ability to design and populate your own dungeon.

Cards, Combat, And

At first glance, Labyrinth's gameplay will look familiar to
any fan of tactical RPGs. You assemble a party of heroes and lead them through
multi-tiered dungeons, taking on minions and (eventually) bosses in turn-based
combat that requires deft ability management, positioning, and coordination
among your team members. However, nearly everything in Labyrinth is ruled by
decks. Players will build individual decks for each party member, comprised of attack, spell, and equipment cards from that character's discipline(s).

The cards in Labyrinth work differently than normal CCGs. There
is no mana to manage when playing cards – instead, the numerical value on the card
you play determines where in the turn order that character ends up. Perform a
powerful axe strike, and your Blademaster's next turn will move further down
the timeline – perhaps shuffling a few enemies further up the order. Some moves
like Dodge don't cost any time, allowing the character to play it and
immediately follow up with another action. In this way, attack cards essentially allow players to make powerful moves first, and then pay for
them later; some magical spells flip the script, taking a few turns to charge
up in advance before being carried out. Each card also dictates how many replacement
cards you can draw from that character's deck to replenish their hand, further
differentiating it from other collectible card games.

Like other tactical RPGs, combat also takes positioning into
account. For example, a spell appropriately called The Cross spreads out in an "X"
across the battlefield, allowing the casting character to hit multiple targets
if properly aligned. Heroes also have a basic attack or ability that can be
used as many times as he or she wants, ensuring characters never completely run
out of cards.

Heroes are also acquired as cards, and sport their own unique
mechanics. The Blademaster can build up fury, and then expend it with cards
like Cripple, which converts the pseudo-currency into direct damage on a target
enemy. In contrast, the Thief can go into a stealth mode, which makes some
attacks more potent or increases the rate of success for other abilities like Dodge.
The Priestess acquires devotion through her actions, which can transform spells
– for instance, when leveled up, The Cross spell can restore health to allies
in addition to damaging enemies.

Once you clear out a dungeon level, you can decide to leave
with the loot you've already acquired or keep on going. However, if all your
characters die or you're forced to flee on the next level, you'll lose your previous
loot, creating an enticing risk to delve deeper for greater rewards.

Free Range Games says the loot you acquire comes in the form
of gold and stardust, which is used to buy card packs containing attacks,
spells, and equipment from the four main disciplines, as well as additional
hero archetypes. Free Range says the currencies function similar to
Hearthstone; while you can purchase gold with real money, you can still acquire
every card in the game without spending a dime. You can also disenchant cards
you don't want in order to craft specific cards. Also like Hearthstone, you can
take on daily quests, which pay bonus loot for completing specific objectives.
However, these strategic dungeon crawls are only half of Labyrinth's formula.

Dungeon Master

The dungeons you explore in Labyrinth aren't crafted by the
developer – instead, you'll be looting the home bases of other players (there will, however, be solo adventures as well). When
starting the game, each player is given their own dungeon, consisting of one
room and a boss monster. As players progress, they can expand their lair with
additional rooms, levels, and defenses. These elements, which include minions,
booby traps, and other bosses, are also acquired in card packs.

Rather than squaring off against the owner of the dungeon in
traditional PvP combat, the dungeon master crafts a special defense deck. When
an invader enters the dungeon, that deck is shuffled, and the top card is
played on each turn. In this sense, the dungeon master is basically setting up
a complex web of A.I. to thwart loot-seeking parties, as the deck will play
itself – the dungeon owner won't even be online when the raids take place. While
the deck is shuffled, Free Range says there will be plenty of room for
strategic deck building, as certain cards will chain together or affect other cards
in different ways. The dungeon's boss will also draw from its own separate
deck, which the owner can stack with attacks and minion summons however he or
she sees fit.  

The idea of getting raided by random players when you're not
online can be off-putting, but don't worry – even if your invaders are
successful, they're not stealing the hard-earned riches you've already banked.
Instead, your dungeon serves as another source for loot, generating a given
amount of resources every day based on its size. Invading players can steal from
this daily allowance if they're successful, but not the money you've already
banked – the worst-case scenario is you won't passively make any money on a
given day. However, there's also an upside to being raided; if the player's
characters don't make it out alive, you'll acquire bonus loot above and beyond
what your dungeon generates. Players can also perform test runs on their own
dungeon to tweak its defenses. Free Range says that there's no limit to how many
dungeons you raid in a day, so even if your lair isn't up to snuff, you can
still acquire more resources the old-fashioned way.

A Promising Start

Free Range Games is still a long way from releasing
Labyrinth, but so far I'm intrigued by the project. I love the idea of mixing
CCG elements into a tactical RPG, which simultaneously adds more strategy (in
the form of deck building) and luck (in the form of card drawing) to the
gameplay. I especially like the clever approach to PVP, with should make raids
feel more like a single-player dungeon crawl even though you are still
competing against other players. The format also ensures you'll never have to
wait for the servers to find another online player to match you up with, and
blowout defeats (hopefully) shouldn't be as embarrassing.

For now, my biggest question is how time-consuming/tedious it
will be to build and balance the sheer number of decks you'll be playing with.
Free Range says the game will launch with 300-400 cards, including 24 hero
cards and 8 boss cards (plus variant bosses). Juggling different decks for each character you acquire
might be a pain, but I'm encouraged by Free Range citing Hearthstone's
monetization model as their inspiration – Blizzard's ultra-popular CCG strikes
the perfect balance for a free-to-play game, and if anything, Labyrinth appears
to be offering even more ways to generate resources without cracking open your

Labyrinth took only seven days to get approved on Steam
, which should hopefully bode well for Free Range's newly
announced Kickstarter
; the developer is asking for $ 150,000 to supplement the
backing it has already acquired for the game. Free Range says it has lots of
plans for the future, including team-built guild dungeons and possible live
versus matches between players' parties. Free Range says it's designing
Labyrinth to be a game that users play for decades – the first step in the long
journey will start with a closed beta in early 2016.

Visit the official Labyrinth home page to follow
along with the game's development. – The Feed