When I was writing up my little piece on Kongregate, I thought about the reason I had not bothered playing Kongai. My gut reaction was that I didn’t enjoy card collecting games against a computer, then I had a flash (pun intended), in general I haven’t enjoyed many computerised card collecting games but there are two that have stuck in my mind, Castlewars and Mytheria. So I started writing a little bit about both of them. I decided to post about Castlewars as a build up to Kongregate, and then follow it up with this one on Mytheria.
When asked to think about card collecting games, most peoples response will be Magic: The Gathering. I have never taken it up myself due to not having anyone around who was also interested. My only foray into CC games was a box of booster packs for Star Wars on sale at a cheap price. A lot of the fun of CCGs is not in the game, but as the name suggests, in the collecting. Some of the cards can be beautifully detailed. I think that is why it’s never really taken off in the various computer game forms that have been released. Another reason is the flow, often computerised versions are stunted, requiring an odd order to be followed to the letter when something more free-form would feel much better.
One thing that shines through with Mytheria is the quality. The cards have interesting and detailed designs (for a flash game), and the whole game gives off a certain feeling. The backstory is one of war. In Magic: The Gathering, the cards are divided into groups, each group representing an element. Mytheria has a similar design, with each card group representing a side in the war.
- Purple, represents the Myrkin. A bureaucratic civilization, with cards that focusing on intelligent planning, rather than direct damage.
- Red are the Scythians. A army race, with no expensive cards to assist quick growth.
- Blue are a race of robots called the Hrathians. Expendable small units with some more advanced technology higher up.
- White are the Solarians. The side most associated with Good (if there is ever a ‘Good’ race in a war?), a powerful defence and loyal followers ready to die for the cause.
- The final group is the Blackguard. They spent years researching genetic modification and mutated virus’, direct damage is their main strength.
There are two parts to the game, Missions, where you are given a set deck and have to defeat ever increasing difficulties. And Challenges, where you can select your own personal deck to overcome specific challenges.
Each game is broken down into rounds. To play cards, you must spend the points marked on them, each group requiring it’s own coloured points. (Some cards use generic points as part of their cost as instead of a single colour.) At the start of a round you choose whether to increase your reserve of points in a group or get a new card. Once you have increased a colour you continue to get that many points every round. In the first round you need to select points otherwise you only have a single point in a single group.
The next round is where you play cards that are in your hand (the row at the bottom). Cards can be broken down into four groups; Creatures, Modifiers, Instants and Auras. Creatures are cards that can be placed on the battlefield (the middle) to attack and defend. Modifiers affect creature cards, possibly adding too or taking away their strength. Instants are cards that do a specific action and are then used, such as destroy on of the other players units or add to your health. Auras are like Instants except they don’t have a specific target.
After using all the cards you wish, you move onto the attacking round. Here you control any creatures you have on the battlefield. It’s a simple choice, you choose which cards you want to attack with and leave the rest. This is where I found my only real problem with the game, you have to select each card one by one and then wait for them to attack. I can understand the reasoning behind it but that doesn’t stop it from breaking the flow. Once you have selected a card to attack, your opponent has the choice to block it. Each creature card has a strength rating (the big number), if it is unobstructed then it does that much damage directly to your opponents health pool. If a creature card is used as a blocker then the damage is done to it instead (there are some exceptions I’ll mention later), at the same time the blocker uses its strength rating against the offensive card. If the strength rating is higher than the creatures health (the same number) then it’s destroyed and removed from play.
After all of the units you selected have attacked, it then moves onto the other persons turn. This follows the same order as yours except you can’t see the cards unless they are used. When the other players turn is over it comes back to you and so on. The first person to lose all their health loses the game.
Overall the AI does a pretty good job. More experience CCG players will probably find it a bit too easy, but there are times when the AI can show a lot of intelligence.
When playing a game, the cards are shrunken down to fit better on the screen, they still retain their title, picture and strength (if applicable). If you hover the mouse over them they appear full size on the right hand side.
The cards all follow a basic design, but creature cards tend to have more information on them.
At the top of the cards is the title. Next is the card type and underneath are any special attributes. Some creatures have bonus’ or limitations on how they are played, for example, the card above has Penetration. The special attributes are:
- ‘Penetration’, this typically features on creatures with a high strength rating, if they are blocked by a weaker card, then any damage not done to that card can still pass through to the other players health pool.
- ‘Unblockable’, they cannot be blocked by other creature cards.
- ‘Assist’, this allows you to place more than one card as a blocker against the same attacker, damage is divided between all the blockers.
- ‘NoAttack’, each side has a ‘shield card’, they feature a high strength rating, but cannot be used offensively, instead they absorb and reflect damage done to them.
The coloured pips indicate the cost to play the card, the example card also shows how generic points cost works. To play this card you have to pay three blue points, the +1 means you then have to play an extra point, this one can be of any colour, even another blue.
In the middle of creature cards are a portrait, the strength rating and an icon signifying the type of creature. I really like the portraits, I think they are interesting and help give meaning to the war-theme. At the bottom is either a quote or a description of a special ability. The quotes have quite a wide variety and suit the general theme of a cards colour, the Hrathians feature a lot of quotes mentioning Asimov for example. One of my favourite quotes is on the Temporary Recall card, ‘Five minutes! That’s all we need — you must hold them off!’ I think this really fits in with its use, a card that returns a unit from the battlefield to its owner’s hand.
As I said, the other card types (Modifiers, Instants and Auras) all use a similar design, featuring a lot of the same parts of the creature cards, except they don’t have a picture or strength rating, and instead have a sentence describing their use. Aura cards vary between single and long term actions, the card above for example lasts until either the end of the game, or until it is destroyed. When these long term cards are played, they rest on the right hand side of the battlefield. Some of these cards don’t have a points cost, Memory Serpent gives one of your creatures +4 strength, but it costs you a card from your hand.
The Deck Builder
It’s a pretty good system, that allows you to keep track of the overall amount of cards and how many of each type you currently have in your deck. The cards are sortable by various criteria and it gives you a quick summary of what special cards do so you don’t have to click on each card one at a time. It lets you save multiple decks so you are ready for any situation. You can mix the different colours if you wish to go with an adaptable deck or specialise in a single group to grow more quickly.
Mytheria is a game I would heartily recommend to any CCG players, and even if you are not a fan I would urge you to try it out. Visit it at Kongregate here.