Reforming Digital Trading Card Games with Infinity Wars

The trading card game market has been somewhat untapped with titles such as Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering getting most of the attention. Lightmare Studios is looking to break into that spotlight by offering a free-to-play digital card game, focusing on fantasy driven decks. With an expansive and ever growing multiplayer component, not to mention a full-fledged single player campaign that will go through the seven different factions, Infinity Wars has a lot to offer those who have grown up with trading cards.

We were able to sit down for one quick session at GDC this year, getting a grasp of the different and surprisingly deep mechanics. Infinity Wars has been created for the medium to high tier card players, so newcomers may have a difficult time going straight in. Thankfully, they have set up a master and apprentice system that will help ease in anyone unfamiliar with the mechanics, not to mention a tutorial match. The system is structured on a two action basis where you will need to put a card into a queue before bringing them onto the battlefield. Your queue will also be limited to the number of cards that can go in, so you can’t just stack everything in your hand and draw a new set next turn.

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There are two areas of the battlefield: attack and defense. As expected, if you place a card in the attack section, you will do damage to the opponent’s fortress. If you place them in the defense side, you will fight off oncoming attacks. It’s a balance between the two and depending on the cards, some are better structured for one over the other. For example, there was a card that had high health but no attack, meaning they will take the blow but be unable to do any damage against you. There are also cards that will help boost specific traits depending where you place them, so you can obtain high attack power, additional health or various other factors in one area.

The Brisbane studio has also implemented simultaneous actions, meaning that at the start of a turn, each player will play their hand before even seeing what the other will do. But don’t take too long. They realize some battles can take hours of strategizing, so they’ve implemented the option for ten minute matches, penalizing anyone who may go over the set time limits. This also ties into their bluff and prediction mechanics. As the title suggests, these are just stages in battle when player one will predict player two’s movements and use it to their advantage. Reusing the example of the card that has all health but no attack, if it’s in the opponent’s queue, it will more than likely be put it into their defense section. You can then place a card prior to his turn that will send him back to the queue or deck, giving you an open shot at their fortress.

Despite being a simplistic looking trading card game, there’s a certain visual style that’s very appealing. For one, everything in the game animates and really brings the cards to life. There will also be various cards that can be drawn that will change the visual aesthetic of the battlefield, dressing things up and making the experience even better. It’s just a surprisingly visually appealing game that will never have the player bored and looking at a static image.

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Lightmare Studios will constantly be updating Infinity Wars, bringing out cards every week for players to continue competing against one another. It was also recently announced that they have teamed up with Star Trek to introduce unique cards from the ultra-popular universe. While they’re in talks with other crossovers, it was expressed that they hope to eventually get the Star Wars license, opening up for incredible battles between the two universes. Just imagine the onslaught of fans battling each other in this digital card game, trying to claim which is better. The support is no doubt a big factor for the game and Lightmare Studios is delivering.

Infinity Wars is available right now on PC and Mac through Steam’s Early Access, with iOS and Android versions (although called companion apps) coming at a later date. When asked about console versions, they said it’s something they want to do, but their vision is for everyone to play against one another, no matter what system. Because of this and the Sony and Microsoft’s still somewhat closed ecosystems, they are not yet developing it for consoles. In any case, whether or not you have experienced a digital trading card before, at its current price point (free!), you really can’t go wrong.