Faeria (Switch) Review
In a move that gets all the praise from me, Faeria presents its card battles as a cross between a board game and a card game. You line up against an opponent across a set of hexagonal water tiles. Each turn, you have a choice of how you’d like to build the board by laying down different land tiles linked to corresponding card types. This is where the deeper tactics come in as the board itself deeply influences how and when you can play certain cards and which ones will have an advantage. You may choose to lay down two generic land tiles, which extends the area on which you can place a card (you can’t put a card down on an enemy’s land tiles unless you have a specific card able to walk into enemy lands). Another option is to lay a special land tile down, but only one of them. These special tiles are tied to the different deck colours – so forest for green, volcanoes for red and so on. Certain cards require a specific number of these special tiles in order to be played, as well as mana points, which you gain on each new turn and by having cards stand guard alongside mana pools on the map.
If this is all starting to sound a bit complex, don’t be disheartened, because it’s all explained really well in the game’s introductory matches. Further strategy comes into play with the option for players to forego laying any land at all and instead draw an extra card or gain an extra mana point. In the later stages of battles, these decisions can mean the difference between defeat and victory.
Your goal is to reach the opposing player and attack them to reduce their health to zero. They will play cards to defend themselves, so there is some worth in hanging back a little bit and not going in too quickly. Cards attack and are then attacked in the same turn, so it’s very common to see both cards stricken from the board in one move as they defeat each other. Early on, you’ll start with a fairly weak card set, but even defeat will net you XP, new cards and loot chests full of – you guessed it – more cards! Soon, you’ll move on to creating new colour-themed decks, but you can certainly mix and match up to 30 cards in any combination you like and then name them and save them for use as the need arises. Slotting new cards into existing decks is as easy as selecting the card you want to remove and the the card you want to replace it with, and you can still use that card for other decks, it’s not removed.
There are daily challenges, which net you loot boxes, and you also get daily login bonuses. Don’t worry if you go a day or two between plays, they still stack. Such generosity permeates Faeria, making it a pleasure to play. New cards keep coming, opponents get a little bit more difficult and you never feel like you are wasting your time as you earn XP or contribute towards challenges no matter the match outcome.
It also looks great, with an art style that manages to walk the line between style and realism. The card art is great and the imaginative vistas presented during loading help to draw you into the world. This is supported by animations and sounds that make Faeria feel like a premium product, one that you’ll want to become invested in.
The best aspect for me is that although it aims you towards competing online (no doubt with the aim to sell you new expansions and packs etc. as you try to remain competitive), there is so much to do as a solo player that you never need to venture online to feel that you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of this. There are several modes from the main menu, all of which offer avenues of enjoyment. Adventure mode is your main mode and offers both solo and co-op challenges. It also includes a boss mode where you can replay bosses, as well as daily dragon-slaying challenges. Then you have the online Battle mode, which splits into casual or ranked matches, or you can maintain your solidarity and play against the AI. Next is Pandora, a draft mode where you try out randomly-assigned cards and decks, taking on the challenge to survive as long as you can. Last, but not least, is Puzzle mode. This is a cool mode where you are given specific challenges, such as win in one round, and it’s up to you to work out how to complete the assigned challenge. This mode helps you learn the deeper complexities of Faeria’s systems and it’s damn satisfying once you work out how to pull some of the puzzles off.
Because Faeria is an always-connected title, I found a few annoying little aspects of this impacted my experience. Firstly, every time I paused the system and returned to it, the game needed to re-log me back in, which negated the convenience of pausing the system in the first place. This means you must finish a game that you start. Secondly, during play I often experienced hitches and pauses in the game as it presumably communicated with the server. Why this needs to be done when playing solo I have no idea, but it was annoying and worth mentioning. In the scheme of things, though, these niggles did not impact my overall enjoyment of this title.
Faeria is as enjoyable as it is deep, offering many hours of solo content, with the option to compete online if you so choose. The combination of board and card game is a lot of fun to play and new cards are unlocked at a fast, exciting pace.
+ Original board/card game fusion
+ Interesting cards, easy deck building
+ Heaps of solo content
- Always online, with some performance/network pauses during play