App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Let's not beat around the bush here: Faeria has more than a few things in common with Blizzard's ultra popular collectible card game (CCG), Hearthstone. While the idea of imitating this sort of game is nothing new (especially considering Hearthstone itself is a bit of a knock-off), Faeria sets itself apart by being a hex-based strategy game in addition to a CCG. This makes a lot of its card-based action feel really familiar, but the kinds of strategies that emerge from its map-based playing field totally changes things. It makes Faeria feel like an evolution of Hearthstone-like games rather than a copy of them.
Faeria is a competitive multiplayer card game where two players must deal enough damage to their opponent's avatar to win. It's a familiar premise that has been in card games like Magic: The Gathering for ages. Things get a little twisted in Faeria though considering every game starts with a vast sea separating both avatars from each other.
This sea is divided into 31 hexagonal shapes that players build land on each turn to form a battlefield and allow for creatures to be placed on the board. Land starts out needing to be connected to your avatar, but then expands to any hexes next to your existing lands or friendly creatures in play. You can summon creatures onto lands you own using Faeria, which is the resource that players accumulate and can save between turns to play cards.
Having Hearthstone-like cards battle it out on a battlefield changes things a lot more than you'd think. All of a sudden, where a creature is placed becomes as important as the abilities it has or how strong it is, if not more so. This concept is exemplified perfectly by “Faeria Wells,” which are pre-built nodes on every map that allow players to harvest additional Faeria if they have a creature standing next to it. This makes it so that even the lowliest creature in the game can serve an important strategic purpose purely by helping you gain Faeria for your more costly cards.
Another important factor in placing land in Faeria is deciding which kind of land to place where. In the game, you have the choice to build Plains, Deserts, Forests, Lakes, or Mountains at any given time. Plains are the most basic land in the game, and you can place two of them on the map every turn if you wish. The other land types can only be placed one at a time but allow you to play cards of a specific type once you've played enough of them. In addition to their Faeria cost, these type-cards may require one Forest or four Lakes before they can be played. Cards of these types can also only be played on a special land spot you own, which makes land-building a critical aspect of every match.
The game mechanics of Faeria are certainly impressive and make for a deep multiplayer experience, but it's also worth noting that Faeria's free-to-play structure is very reasonable. The game lets you play as much as you want in an ad-free environment but restricts you by making you grind daily quests for coins to buy things like card packs and access to Pandora Mode, which is a lot like Hearthstone's Arena Mode. If you tire of multiplayer matches, there's also quite a bit of single-player content that creates some interesting challenges and puzzles for you to solve.
The only real hang-up I have with Faeria is that its user interface isn't particularly elegant. Also, investing time into a CCG like this can feel overwhelming, particularly if you're already deep into one. If you can find them time to dedicate to Faeria though, the payoff is most certainly worth it.
The bottom line
There's a lot going on in Faeria. A lot of that stuff looks and feels quite like Hearthstone, but there's also a ton of other things that make it feel completely original. What you end up with is a CCG that can be really satisfying, provided you have the time or money to do that.