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Spellweaver Reviewed by Conner Amaya on . In a market filled with free-to-play card games, Spellweaver stands out. It's a great playing trading card game that innovates on the genre and offers enough complexity to keep gamers invested for months to come. Best of all, you don't have to spend a lot of money to stand a chance. It could have been more visually stimulating, but Spellweaver is worth checking out. Rating: 71%
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Ah, the trading card game. If there's one solid truth, it's that this genre can be the bane of both your wallet and time. With ongoing expansions, shifting strategies and a focus on being the best, this genre of game can really hook you in for the long haul. The biggest appeal to me was always the idea that everyone has access to the same materials, but with patience, skill and a little luck. You make something that you can call your own to which you can take on any other player.

However, the biggest issue with trading card games has always been the high pay-wall preventing you from being competitive unless you dropped pockets full of cash into a seemingly unending chasm. But despite this, we all still play on because honestly there isn't anything else that quite has the same feel as a good old TCG. That's where things have changed with games like Spellweaver, a digital trading card game that gives you all the feel and joy of a TCG without the need to spend money on cards.

Before I go on though, yes, you can spend money on this game, if you feel like speeding up the process and pushing towards a custom deck from the get go, but it isn't necessary. The game gives you access to plenty of starting materials right out of the gate that you can use in the prebuilt decks, or to construct your own from the ground up.

With these cards you can earn gold, unlock more decks and heroes, as well as booster packs from completing challenges and general bonuses for playing. I recommend going this route as really it gives you a good opportunity to get a feel for the game and see which play style you like best. The game starts you off with a pretty nice tutorial that doesn't feel overly basic, so whether you're totally new or a seasoned TCG veteran you'll enjoy learning the game.

If and when you do decide to go ahead and spend some money and buy more cards, the prices of packs are pretty fair. The point I'm making here is that even though the game has the option to spend money, it isn't pay to win. And it definitely doesn't have your typical freemium feel.

At it's core, Spellweaver is a full-fledged TCG that doesn't cut any corners, landing somewhere close to Magic the Gathering, with influences from Hearthstone, Yu-Gi-Oh, and a few elements from several tabletop RPGs. Like Magic the Gathering, you build a mana pool over time to summon creatures and cast spells. However Spellweaver puts a twist on this by also adding a devotion level that determines the strength of spells you can cast.

Spellweaver (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's sort of like if you took the mana pool from MtG and added some complexity to it. For example when you play a shrine card you can either gain a devotion point, or you can gain a mana for your mana pool as well as either draw a card or gain a hero ability. Without going into too much detail here, it basically boils down to a choice between being able to play bigger spells, or more spells.

If your devotion is low but your mana pool high, you can play a flood of low level spells. But if you don't level up your devotion. You'll be unable to play the big guns of the game such as high damage, high strength dragons and angels, or huge life draining attack spells.

I like this design because it really makes you think twice about stacking big creatures into your deck. For example, in Magic the Gathering or hearth stone, late game is often the time you play anything you may draw on the spot, but here, the whole "Top Decking" aspect can be shut down by early decisions to pool mana vs devotion and vice versa. It's a solid twist on what we're used to that can make you rethink everything you have in mind.

There are also the heroes with their abilities that feel similar to hearthstone and the Commander game mode from MtG. The hero you select basically sets which color you set your devotion to and offers up a unique ability that only that hero can use. You're able to mix it up a bit by making multi colored decks to mix and match strategies, but keep in mind that the different colors play off your devotion and not your mana pool.

Spellweaver (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

If you thought dealing with the separation of mana and devotion sounded complex, wait till you try mixing in a second or even a third color. Most cards only require at least 2 color specific devotion points with the rest of the levels being colorless, but if you make a red and black deck for example, and you only draw red shrines and black cards, you're out of luck.

Another factor to the creatures that puts a spin on strategy is speed. Every unit has a speed indicator that determines whether it can be blocked or even select enemy units as targets. For example if you're playing undead creatures they often have a speed level of 1 or 2, where the elves usually have level 3 or even 4 speed. This means the zombies can't select the elves as targets for attack, or even block them when your opponent decides to send a barrage of them your way.

If this sounds a bit complex, that's because it is. I have been playing pretty steadily and I am still having a bit of trouble coming up with cunning strategies, but that to me is what adds to the fun. It makes a game that even for someone like myself, who has been playing other card games since I was in grade school, still feel fresh and new yet familiar at the same time.

And if you're new to trading card game in the first place, the tutorials and simplicity of the effects can be easy to pick up. The game is very much a prime candidate for the old, easy to pick up, but difficult to master mantra. Couple this with a smooth user interface, fantastic artwork, and a very pleasing music score and you have a recipe for a game that can entertain many for years.

Spellweaver (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

All this said, I do have some complaints. One thing I found a little disappointing was the game doesn't have anything to make you feel like youre playing something more than a card game. By that I mean there really isn't anything other than the free to play aspect that separates it from physical card games.

I expected there to be fun animations, quirky sound effects, and overall something more than virtual cards on a screen. Hearthstone for example does this by giving every card a voice, hero taunts, as well as make rare cards come to life with motion graphics, and overall a sense of style you can't achieve with simple pieces of paper. The entire game is little more than Pictures with text on screen, and a lot of menus.

Because of this it may turn casual players away, as well as potential long time players thinking of picking up something new. Really if you aren't someone who is interested in card games to begin with, this isn't going to change your mind.

Another big issue is the lack of a chatting system in matches of any kind. There's the ability to chat with people on your friends list, but against random match ups no. I feel a big part of what makes TCGs so great is the community and conversations that revolve around the game. Whether it be smack talk, planning or just friendly banter, it adds to the experience, and the game suffers by lacking this very basic feature. I understand that toxic players are a problem in many online games, but that's what muting is for. Handicapping everyone from saying anything is a real downer and I wish this would be fixed.

Overall, I think Spellweaver is worth your time to give it a shot. It offers a wide variety of play styles and strategies, as well as a fun and original take on the trading card game. And although there aren't a few extra details and polish I would personally like to see in a videogame variant of a traditionally physical medium. It holds its own as a genuinely entertaining card game. I could easily see this becoming a popular game with a strong community if the dev team continues to support it with new cards and heroes in the future.
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