Over the past few years I’ve come to learn that the Nintendo Switch is a great platform for card and board games. Many titles shine on the platform because of its ability to utilize both touch and controller mechanics, and pick up and play matches that are perfect for on-the-go players such as myself. A recent release happened to catch my eye mainly due to its strikingly pretty logo; Faeria is the name, and card battling, hexagonal board strategy is the game.
I have to admit, typically I like to talk about visuals of a game later in my reviews, but here I am about to shake things up, because with Faeria, it’s almost impossible not to lead with how stunning this game looks. The game looks stunning…Wait, I said that already. No really though, it does. From the second you boot in, the loading screen has subtle animations bringing it to life, with a beautifully painted fantasy landscape to greet you. Landing on the main menu of the game, UI elements are nestled in on the screen edges, with a striking forest scene and a majestic deer-like creature in center-focus, and sun beams shining down through the breaks in the trees, all with subtle particle animations floating about. This is fantasy art in its purest form, and immediately reminded me of a board game I’ve played in the past called Mystic Vale.
I had visual excitement chills heading into this game for sure. When you do land in the hex-grid game board regions, the art carries over just as magnificently. Surrounding artwork features perfected contrast and color tones, and just the right amount of subtle secondary animations and particles to avoid anything feeling too static. Card artwork is equally just as high-quality, and fans of either Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering (MTG) will surely appreciate the visual fidelity in this area of the game as well. So, with an immediately spectacular visual presentation from the start, what does Faeria offer in terms of gameplay to ensure players want to remain in this beautiful world?
Blending CCG (Collectible Card Game) mechanics with a robust turn-based tile combat encounter system, Faeria brings a ton of strategy for newcomers and diehard card game fans alike. On the bright side, the game scales really well for said newcomers until they become more experienced players. When you first enter the game, you’ll be walked through several tutorial matches that introduce the various core elements and features. I’ve played a few games within the board game/card game genre that struggle to tutorial their mechanics, but thankfully this one did not fall into that trap. I was given a nice green starter deck, taught the basics of the card layout, which thankfully are as straightforward as most card games (attack, health, casting cost, and special ability text make up any given card), and proceeded into some introductory matches against AI.
You’ll head into the playfield with your 30-card deck, and face off with a single opponent. Unlike most card games, real or digital, you’ll be presented with a hexagonal play area that comes to life as your match unfolds. MTG players will be the most at home with the overall experience, as step one is effectively playing lands. However, lands are cast from a static pool selection that you have. You’re allowed to either place down two basic hexagon land pieces per turn, or one special land that comes in the forms of Forest, Mountain, Water, or Desert. There are some additional elections you can choose to perform instead, like draw an extra card, or gain an extra casting mana orb, but that’ll be for more advanced strategies.
Placing a land tile down onto the board gives you the space to cast a creature card onto the active battlefield. Simply dragging and dropping, or using the coinciding button and thumb stick movements, will cast your creature as long as you have enough mana orbs for it. Mana orbs are generated each turn, but additional ones can be earned if you position a creature by one of the four mana wells on the game board. Hearthstone players will know how to utilize this mechanic the most. As this game is turn-based, once you’ve used up your mana orbs for your given turn, and attacked or moved any units that don’t have summoning sickness (creatures cast on turn one aren’t allowed to really do much of anything), you’ll pass your turn to the opponent and they will perform similar actions.
Gameplay progresses with each of you placing tiles in order to reach your avatar on the opposite sides of each other. Once you do, you can then move or cast creatures to directly attack said avatar and if the health of either of you reaches zero, it’s game over. Now, there’s a ton of strategy, card abilities, buffs, spells, etc., that all build into this dynamic battlefield each turn, and I would be here all day trying to explain them all if I chose to. Simply put, this game has an immense amount of depth and strategy, and once you’ve played a few of the game’s single player missions, you’ll start to really understand how everything unfolds.
As I said, the game offers a pretty solid tutorial, but once that’s completed, you’ll have access to a significantly larger portion of the game, but still not everything. Several game modes which we’ll touch on in a bit will remain player level-locked, and this is because these are for more advanced players that have become familiar enough with the game, cards, and particularly deck building. Playing the Adventure single player missions is where I recommend diving into as soon as you can. You’ll get some lore treats, but you’ll also be eased into using newer decks when you level your player up via standard XP gains, and the game will really start to unlock for you.
There is an immense amount of solo/AI gameplay that you can partake in overall. The Adventure Mode breaks out into four subset campaigns, including a large set of basic missions: “Oversky” Mode, which is a cooperative mode with either a friend or AI, World Bosses mode, which offer some of the toughest battles in the game (but more pretty art to see), and Dragons Lair Mode, which is a daily event mode that can also be played coop or solo. This alone makes up a ridiculous number of hours of gameplay, but wait — there’s more! Back to the high-level selection of modes, you’ll also find Battle, which is your typical face-off. This can be played via Casual multiplayer online matches, Ranked online matches, or Practice AI matches. Pandora Game Mode is where veteran deck builders will have a lot of fun, as this constitutes a draft deck building competition. Finally, the last primary game mode is Puzzles. These I found were quite tricky, but come in the form of generally ‘one-move’ puzzles that if solved correctly will win a match for you. It might be a bit gimmicky, but I had fun tackling a few of them!
Surrounding the game modes is every expected feature for a robust digital competitive CCG you’d need. Do you want more cards? There’re several fully featured purchases that can be made that unlock the ability to have many more cards, new cosmetics, and new adventures/puzzles/etc. via paid DLC. Even though the game utilizes an in-game currency to purchase extra cosmetics, you won’t be inundated with micro-transactions at all which is certainly a nicety I would expect for many players.
There’s a whole host of unlockable/buyable cosmetics as well to create your own personalized experience. There are dozens of avatar icons, with many of them being animated. A whole host of Orb Containers that are beautifully designed and also many of them being partially animated. Card back designs-a-plenty, as naturally expected. And finally custom orb-generating wells that show up on the playfield. I absolutely love how many customization options this game offers in total, and there’s certainly a visual loadout that should please just about everyone I would imagine.
Faeria also utilizes loot boxes, but in what I would constitute as a bountiful manner. You’re not able to purchase basic loot boxes outright, and they are only awarded to you based on things like Daily Quests or milestones within Adventure mode, etc. Unlocking these, earns you progress towards any of the aesthetics mentioned before, as well as new cards. The shop does offer a Mythic Chest, which guarantees 4 mythic items that come in the form of the best cards, or rarest aesthetics. You’ll have to earn your currency by playing to purchase these however, as direct currency purchases don’t exist. Overall, although some of the prices in the shop can be steep, I’m pretty happy with the overall set up here.
At any point you’ll also be able to view your card collection that you’ve amassed, and deck build until your heart’s content. Deck building breaks out into two routes; Pre-mades that you can select if you have met certain requirements or levels that have unlocked them, or a fully custom deck build. Deck building is a bit rudimentary in Faeria, in that it doesn’t offer deck building guidance/recommendations that you’d find in games like Magic Arena for example. However, there’s just enough tools and filters at your disposal to start playing around and building, and it shouldn’t cause too many players to stumble in crafting playable 30-card decks even early on in the game, though having unlocked cards certainly helps the selection pool.
However, Faeria on the Nintendo Switch doesn’t come away completely unscathed. The biggest hurdle I had to contend with was that this game requires an always active internet with a good connection. If you have no internet, you won’t even make it past the start screen, but even in solo modes where I had hoped the game wouldn’t require network, it did. Furthermore, my home personal network is a bit rubbish as I live in the woods, and so every attempt at a movement or action was met with a fairly long delay. Even casting a creature onto the board would take several seconds for the action to register when just playing Adventure mode solo. Now, I fully understand with this style of competitive CCG game, that content server verifications are needed, etc., but I’d be remiss in saying I wish I could toss this game into airplane mode, and just have fun offline with a seamless experience in any of the plethora of solo modes. This however was not the case at all for me, and a bit of a frustration point for me. It makes playing on-the-go almost impossible unless you tether your Switch to your cell phone.
Despite my network troubles, the Nintendo Switch handled the game quite well. I didn’t struggle to connect with live players when I did play on a good network and wanted some multiplayer action, and the game offering both touch and controller input methods in this genre is always a huge kudos in my book as well.
Faeria is a fantastically balanced CCG/tile building game. I find that it could easily stand up besides the likes of Hearthstone and Magic Arena. There’s an immense amount of content to be played with, and varying game modes galore. The art style and visualizations are top notch AAA quality and create a superb landscape to play in. I fully expect countless more hours of fun and honing my deck building skills in the coming weeks and months with Faeria.
- Graphics - 10/1010/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 9.5/109.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9.5/109.5/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Faeria is a AAA quality merging of the collectible card game space with strategy board games. It features some of the most stunning art I’ve seen in the genre. Accessible and easily learned, but difficult to master gameplay felt nearly perfected, and there’s enough game modes and replayable matches to keep a person playing for ages. The only thing really keeping this from a perfect score in my book was that the game requires constant, good internet to play smoothly, even in solo modes. I wished so much I could have had a seamless experience offline. Still, for fans of Magic Arena, Hearthstone, or other fantasy deck builders, Faeria is a must-have, and definitely won’t break the bank at a $19.99 base price point, with a handful of great DLC for a bit more cash.