This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Play This Ingenious Tactical, Collectible Card Game
How does one enter into the space of customizable/collectible card games in the fantasy sphere while Magic: the Gathering is still the dominant force in the space? Millions of people still play MTG, even though it is not the game it used to be.
With online “unbeatable” decks and pay-to-win tournaments, MTG has become a rich person’s game in a world where most gamers are, well, not rich. There is a massive gap in this community for a new tabletop game.
As Genesis: Battle of Champions comes into production, it has a chance to fill the void created by Magic pricing itself out of most gamers’ budgets.
Genesis Compared to Magic: the Gathering
Genesis is entering into this review being compared to MTG, which is a heady bar to overcome. It does well, however, which is something that we cannot say for most CCGs.
Most of them are simply ports of a popular franchise. Star Trek, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, for example, all rely on an already-existing fan base to drive what are generally bland games. Genesis lacks a preset fan base, which means that it has to stand on its own merits.
Since it is unlike Warhammer or MTG with thousands of pieces you must buy to be competitive, Genesis has the potential to be a “game” changer in a field that has belonged to MTG for nearly 30 years.
Genesis is a strong game, which shows that a lot of planning and testing went into it.
The publisher, Haunted Castle Gaming Inc., describes the game as follows: “In Genesis: Battle of Champions, you are a champion; a hero who is adept in powerful wizardry and physical combat. Other champions will challenge you to battles in an arena — mythical areas rich with a magical energy called aura. You’ll have to fight to protect your land, your family and friends, or just to save your own life…”
The publisher continues: “Genesis: Battle of Champions is a Tactical Collectible Card Game, which combines concepts from collectible card games such as deck building, collecting, and rule text on the cards, along with familiarities of a tactical games. The tactical aspects of the game come through the addition of the arena, a 5×6 grid-style board that the core of the game takes place on. You and your summons get to move around the arena each turn, and you may cast spells or attack your enemies based on the distance and the direction you are facing.”
The Genesis Story Arc
In Genesis, as alluded to above, you play two champions who are battling in an arena using “thoughts” to complete actions (the thoughts-to-actions terminology is cool). Discards go into a “memories” pile (which is your graveyard).
While the story is kind of standard in battle card games, the unique element is that your avatar is in the arena. This feature is unlike the generic, “nothing blocks, so I do damage to you” in most CCGs
Genesis has a story where your avatar is on the field of play. This allows your general to be on the front lines rather than in the background. It creates a new feel to the story, which allows for Genesis: Battle of Champions to receive a score of 6 out of 10 for the story.
Impressive Artwork and Innovative Mechanics
The artwork is one of the most important categories in any card game. If the cards don’t enhance the game, you may as well be playing Gin Rummy. As noted above, Genesis is being compared to MTG, the heavyweight in the division.
In the battle of art between Genesis and MTG, it’s a knockout. Genesis’ artwork is not better than the million-dollar artwork of MTG, but it is of the same impressive quality (better than some of the old Alpha-Revised cards). MTG set a standard, and Genesis lived up to that standard, which gives it a 9.5 out of 10 for the artwork.
Let’s take a step back from the fantasy and look at the mechanics. Genesis has several mechanics that are commendable in card games. For instance, there are two card limiting strategies.
The first is a point-based system where your deck may only have so many cards, and they have a total cost limit (250). This keeps players from buying great decks simply based on rare cards. The second is a color scheme where you must share a color with your avatar. This keeps some broken combos from ever being a problem.
Next, there is a “facing” mechanic that dictates where your avatar may attack. With Magic, it was the whole playing field. What was the point of having an archer when everyone had unlimited range (unless you were flying, or shadow, or any of a number of failed attempts to giving depth to the game)?
Genesis deals with this issue by limiting the attack range. While I would have liked to see more range with some cards, this is still a good fit.
Finally, the “buying” process is based on your avatar’s “bank” of Energy. Cards have two costs: Aura or Energy. Aura is dictated by your avatar (which is represented by cards), and Energy is the number of cards in your deck. This creates a nice balance without tapping cards. Overall, this is innovation in a card game and earns Genesis 8 out of 10 for mechanics.
Multiple Strategies Available
Strategy is a potential flaw for some card games. Some ports have “race’ based paths that you have to follow to win. Sure, innovative players can make a salvage deck (power goblins, trader Klingons, power rush) but this will always constitute a novelty deck. Genesis does not fall completely into this trap, although there are themes based on the family of cards.
While there is more breadth in this area to use multiple strategies, the families of cards tend to push you in a general direction. This can be expanded as a card pool grows, but as it stands now, Genesis receives a 6 out of 10 for strategy.
Even with fewer options, the game can get into in-depth battles as you are racing against the bottom of the deck to deal a death blow to your opponent, which has led to some exciting contests.
A Unique Game in the Space
Finally, is Genesis a stand-alone card game or is it just a MTG clone? If it was other than unique, I would not be writing this review. With mechanics and strategy (potential) that are beyond what MTG offers, Genesis is a unique game within the space (8.5 out of 10).
While this is not a gateway game, mid-level to high level gamers will relish the deck-building potential. With the limited card selection of the Beta, this game has much potential and is a lot of fun.
Overall, Genesis is a very strong game, which shows that a lot of planning and play testing went into it. We found the game to be very balanced and interesting.
If you are a MTG vet, or want to get into a card game that will not cost you tens of thousands of dollars to play, check out Genesis: Battle of Champions. With a monster score of 38 out of 50, Genesis likely appears to be a major game on the market if it can break into the CCG crowd.
I hope that you will take the time to check this one out. This is a fun game that brings back the memories of opening a new pack of cards. I hope that it will create new memories for a new generation