Tobold's Blog
Saturday, April 02, 2016
 
Earthcore

Rugus wanted to know what I thought of Earthcore, so I gave it a try. I must say the game is unusual and gets points for originality. But otherwise I don't think I will play it much longer.

What Earthcore basically is, is a Free2Play version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. You get 4 cards, and you and your opponent play cards alternating on three different lanes. Then on each lane water beats fire, fire beats earth, and earth beats water. The most basic cards have a "risk" of 6, so if you lose a duel with that card on one lane, you lose 6 life. First player to run out of lives loses (and the lanes are handled left to right, so you can win by bringing your opponent to 0 lives on the left lane, even if the middle and right lane would have spelled your doom).

What makes Earthcore more interesting is that more risky cards have skills, like the ability to switch into a different lane. You can use one skill per turn, but so can your opponent. You can also "forge" hero cards by sacrificing other cards and giving their skill to a hero. I used that to give my hero the vampire ability, but the process ate all three of my vampire cards, so I'm kind of regretting that now. Heroes can have up to 3 skills, so they can be quite powerful, but of course also rather risky.

You can play Earthcore in PvP or against an AI through various chapters of various books. Each chapter has three rewards, one for winning, one for winning with a medium amount of health left, and one for winning with a lot of health left. So it is worth retrying the same chapter until you beat it overwhelmingly and get all rewards. Rewards are gold or cards, and the gold buys you boosters with cards. Of course you can also spend real money to buy gems that buy boosters, which works out at about a dollar per 7-card booster.  Cards come in 4 rarities, and rarer cards tend to be better, even if that might be attached to higher risk. So far, so normal for a Free2Play game.

The point that made me quit after being only half through the first chapter is that Earthcore after all those added features still inherits a terrible disadvantage from its ancestor Rock, Paper, Scissors: It quite frequently can feel very random. Using the same deck against the same AI deck I have won some games with maximum health left, and lost others with the enemy having maximum health left. As you only get 4 cards to play in the 3 lanes, and you can't discard cards other than before the first round, sometimes you just end up with a terrible hand. You can to some extent modify your deck to counter the frequently used skills of an opponent you've played against, but that option is still very limited. Sometimes you just don't have the element in your hand that you need, or a skill that turns the game around.

On the positive side I didn't have the feeling that I could win if I just spent enough money on the game, which isn't uncommon for Free2Play games. On the negative side I had the impression that I would eventually beat any AI opponent if I just played against him frequently enough and would eventually get lucky. Somehow that didn't motivate me to continue.

Comments:
Tobold, thank you for your review, much appreciated. I kind of agree with what you said in your post. I am still messing around with it but I already feel a bit "burned out".
 
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