Lunarch Studios’ Prismata is a game you may have heard of recently if you’re a fan of digital card games such Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. Prismata aims to hybridize the card game genre by mixing in RTS-style combat, while removing the traditional deck building bottlenecks that tend to hold back players the most. Prismata is currently in the final days of their Kickstarter campaign, and are nearing close to their initial funding goal. Interested gamers can try out an offline demo of Prismata at Prismata.net.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Prismata recently. Since we’re dealing with a game still in an early playable alpha stage, I was cautiously optimistic that Prismata was playable enough for me to enjoy myself and get a good feeling for the game. I’m very happy to report that Prismata is not only playable, but also a lot of fun.
Since learning new card games in general can be pretty difficult, I was pleased to see that Prismata’s alpha already has a robust series of tutorials that get new players up to speed. I’d like to think of myself as more of an experience-based learner, so after skipping around through 3 of the deeper tutorial missions, I opted to just start diving into real games versus the AI and living opponents. Regardless of how you learn, or at what pace, Prismata’s early learning curve isn’t as harsh as one might expect. This is especially true for players with prior card or strategy game experience.
Players that have some experience with Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering will find some similarities in Prismata, though I suspect they’ll find just as many things that set this game far apart from the competition. Most notably, deck building is entirely removed. In its place, players have access to a standard deck of cards, along with a randomized assortment that will differ from game to game. Each player has access to the same standard and randomized cards during a match, thus doing away with situations like one player owning considerably more powerful cards than their opponent. By removing the emphasis on building overpowered decks, Lunarch Studios has put a real focus on adaptive strategy. Choosing the right strategy is largely dependant on observing what your opponent plays, and making strategic choices based upon that information.
The combat and economy aspects of Prismata play much more like a RTS game, but in more of a turn-based sense. Each turn, players go through a more streamlined set of phases compared to something like Magic: The Gathering. Players harvest gold from drone units, which they may then use to build new units with various abilities. Depending on the strategy a player chooses, new units may generate other resources or act as combatants during the attack or defend phases.
While both players will be using gold as their primary resource, they’ll also have access to 4 additional resources by which to build new units. Despite having access to the same cards, it’s possible for players to focus their resource generation differently than their opponent. Because the matches are so situationaly adaptive, players will need to keep a close watch on what resources their opponent is pushing towards, as that could be a good indication of the cards they are aiming to play later in the match.
Combat through both turns is played at a significantly quicker pace than traditional card game fans might be accustomed. While that may sound a bit offputting to some, I encourage you to try the Prismata Offline Demo out for yourself before casting judgement. Combat is fast, fluid, and still remains engaging. Quite frankly, this turn-based RTS-style card game makes a lot of sense once you’ve got a few games under your belt.
As a Magic: The Gathering player since back in the Ice Age days, and an avid RTS fan that got my start with games such as Warcraft 2 and Command & Conquer, I came into this hoping that my prior experience with both genres might give me a leg up on the competition. Learning to play Prismata went pretty quickly for me, although I suspect I’ve got quite a bit more to learn when it comes to many of the advanced strategies in the game. Thankfully, Prismata is similar enough to appeal to fans of either genre, while still being unique enough to require players invest some time to really learn the intricacies of the game.
Even for a Magic: The Gathering veteran of nearly 20 years, Prismata impressed me a lot more than I thought it would. Instead of waiting for what can feel like minutes for a slow player to complete a turn, players move through the phases at a much livelier pace. It’s a wonder why more developers haven’t made an attempt at quickening the experience of traditional card games, as it really makes the overall game more accessible to players that prefer action-oriented gameplay. With such an enjoyable experience in its alpha phase, I can only hope that Prismata continues down this design path during development. Newcomers to the card game genre might just really enjoy what Prismata brings to the table.
|Developer: Lunarch Studios||Publisher: Lunarch Studios||Official Website|
|Version Played: Alpha 1.3089|
|Support on Kickstarter||Playable Demo|