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A new DCG enters the mix: War of Omens

It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads this blog that I like games. Not only but I like card games in particular; mainly cause I like cards as a medium to convey information and effects. Not only that but I like trying out new games, so when I heard of a new DCG, I had to try it.  If nothing else I figured it would be stimulating from a design point of view and allow me to kill some time. Unfortunately that’s all it turned out to be, so let’s dive right into it.

What sets this game apart from all the others is that it borrows from deck builders in a way that other DCGS haven’t. While Solforge uses the ‘draw a new hand every turn’ part, other games have been far more conventional.  Here, it uses the starter deck of money and buying new cards to improve your deck. Only the cards you buy are your “actual deck”. Each player has their own separate ‘center row’ in which they can buy cards and new cards come out every turn. This idea in and of itself is fairly interesting and probably has potential. The way that War of Omens implements it has several problems though.

First is a flaw from the deck builder angle: there’s no discard pile. What this means is that whenever you discard/play a card it goes right back into your deck. The big problem is that this means there’s no guarantee you’ll actually draw your better cards. While it does mean there’s one less to keep track of, it’s a rather important thing to have. Not to mention that there’s no asynch gameplay, you can just have the discard pile be a number and not reveal it. Sure it means that card counting can be important and increases the skills needed to do well in the game; but given how important that skill is in so many other games, it’s not that bad to have.

Then there’s the problem with the ccg element. There are four types of cards: hero allies, one time effect and ongoing effects.*  Heroes are you and generate some kind of bonus, usually ever turn and determine which faction you’re playing as.Allies are important cause they stay out on the board, generate stuff and are the biggest source of letting the game progress with each player building up resources. One time effects are exactly that, you play the card, the effect happens. Ongoing effects do something for several turns or until x happens and then leave play. There’s another difference between ongoing effects and allies, you can only interact with the latter.

This isn’t the only problem that the game has though. Reading a boardstate at a glance is not easy. The way that the game presents itself in addition to how all the cards appear on the board means you can’t really tell much. Using icons would go a long way to fixing this. Compare to Hearthstone or Solforge and you’ll see what I mean.

Also the game is super finicky, it relies upon a bunch of weird percentages for a lot of it’s card effects. It’s randomness in a hard way to just quickly and initiative process how and what could happen. Again, compare this to other games and you’ll see how those games use randomness in a much more binary manner.

You can only interact with a third of the cards in the game and those cards are the most important in building up your resource base. Once they die, they’re sent back to your deck and you have to hope that you draw them again. The result is that games drag on as you build up your board, get it wiped, build it up, rinse and repeat. The result is that only do the games drag on, but you never feel like you’re doing anything. It makes the game become solely about resource management and just being more efficient than your opponent.

Thee’s no other point to bring this up, so I’ll do so now, you also play with open hands. This is a thing, and it is totally pointless. You can’t do anything during your opponent’s turn and there’s not opportunity cost in just playing everything you have. There’s no way this information actually influences your decisions.

This brings me to the absolute worst part of War of Omens: the card acquisition model is hands down the absolute worst I have ever seen. One of the game’s main conceits is that you’ll always have a use for the excess cards you open, cause you can use them to level up that card. Leveling a card means it becomes cheaper to buy when you play a game. And in order to fully level a card you need to open it something on the order of 30 times. Did I mention that all the packs are 3 cards, pick 1 to keep?  In short, it totally destroys the entire experience of getting new cards/opening packs. You’re no longer excited to get new cards, cause you need more copies of the ones you already have so you can play the game better. Compounding this problem is how they handle factions. Remember what I said about heroes? You only get heroes for two of the four factions with a new account. You literally cannot play half of the game unless you get lucky enough to open a hero of that faction.

The final blow against this model is that spending real money on this game is dumb. You can buy the special currency to buy special packs that only have the higher rarity cards, but since you need ~30 of them to really have that card… And there’s no option to buy in bulk.

I would lax if I didn’t talk about the special coins. Really rare cards that replace the basic coins in your deck and have some finicky effect tied to them. This just further increases the variance of the game for no reason.** Normally I hate using the term play to win in dcgs/ccgs for a number of reasons***, but here it’s totally apt. Regardless of what kind of deck you build, you need these cards to be competitive.

All in all, War of Omens is hands down the worst DCG I’ve played by a long shot. The fact that it’s still early in development is irrelevant. My problems are with the game’s core concepts. This game just isn’t designed well.  In order for my opinion to change the game would need to radically different.

As always, feel free to comment. Next week I’ll be talking about Puzzle Strike and deck builders in general.

*I don’t remember what they’re actually called but this categorization gets the point across well enough.

**Variance is fine in a game, I just want to do something. Mainly it should lead to awesome things happen and leveling the playing field.

***The idea that you shouldn’t have to make an investment of some kind in a collectible game is crazy. Not only that but a healthy game will have multiple different decks you can play and some of them should be cheaper than others. Yets in solforge or mono red in magic are perfect examples.


2 responses to “A new DCG enters the mix: War of Omens

  1. itztaytay ⋅

    Going by your whole argument you barely even played the game, especially if you think allies are the most central part of the game, there are many strong decks with few to no allies, also you focused a lot on green and barely touched the other factions. The card obtaining methods are shoddy, I agree, and so do the developers, and they’re avidly working to fix the game up, including making the buying better, and for the whole paying real money in the game is dumb cause it doesn’t help much, that’s because it was intended to not be pay to win, however you can get coins and stuff with money so there is a reason to, not that having coins makes you all that much stronger, people are very competitive and good with very few or no coins. Another note is that it takes 25 copies to completely level a card, not 30. If you can’t read the boardstate at a glance and know what is probably going to happen then it’s your individual skill not the game’s fault, both you and your opponent know exactly what can and probably will happen, until all the %’s add some to the game, and yes it is a lot based on percentages which makes it finicky, but not so bad that it’s unplayable and you played the most finicky faction of them all, where %’s make or break you, want an easier less % time, go play Endazu.

    It’s a difficult game to get into I realize, it’s not picked up in moments or heck even a few days sometimes, but once you get to where you know what you’re doing it becomes very competitive and fun.

    • For starters, I played the game for over a week. How much of my point about allies being important for generating resources decreases when all of your cards are fully leveled? And since only two factions are available to play with, it’s not surprising that I played with green the most. In a vacuum if you tell me that a faction has ‘draw a card’ on all of their cards I”m probably going to want to play them. From what I played of red that wasn’t terribly different either.

      If they reworked the card obtaining method that would go a long way towards revising my admittedly hyperbolic statement. The gulf between the game I was playing and the game that existed in perfect conditions is hardcoded to take such a long time that I’d rather play so many other games. And my confusion about how many times you needed a card either came from a faulty guide or faulty memory, but the difference between 25 and 30 is rather small.

      The fact that you don’t need all the coins to be competitive isn’t surprising given how they work. From my point of view though, not having them is an objective handicap to having them.

      My criticism about board state is entirely visual, there’s no reason why in a DCG things can’t be clear from just looking at them compared to zooming in on each card. As is the only thing you can tell from a glance is health. There’s no reason why things like intercept can’t also be icons as well.

      I hadn’t considered the relation of near perfect information to all of the percentage effects, which makes a lot more sense and creates a more interesting game. This is more a matter of personal preference in that I want my variance else where. To be clear, I”m referring to things that have like a %40 chance of triggering, all of the cards I played with were by and large straightforward, not shuffleluck. Your last point here only goes back to the problem that getting new cards has on the game, I literally cannot play Endazu since I don’t have a hero for them.

      All that being said I certainly believe that the game can be fun when played as intended. The problem is that progressing towards that point is slow and greatly constricts one’s experience of the game. Given that one of the “problems” of the modern era game is all the choices, based on the time I”ve put in and my experiences thus far, I’ m more inclined to play something else. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment and because of this will probably go back to the game at some point.

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