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HEX: Exploring the World of Entrath

Previews By Blake Morse on May 27, 2013

At one point or another, most digital gamers have had their fair share of analog gaming experiences. And yes, many have played a decent amount of collectable trading card games such as Magic:The Gathering. Some have played them with a passing fervour, others have made it a life-long commitment. But keeping track of a collection of cards can be a pain and as you get older it’s hard to find pick-up games at your local comic shops without looking like the creepy guy with a white van that says “Free Candy” on the side. Cryptozoic is looking to take the best aspects of trading card games and put them into an MMO environment while removing the more pain in butt aspects in the form of Hex: Shards of Fate.

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Hex is a fully digital F2P TCG that takes place on the imaginary world of Entrath. The planet was hit with a meteor known as Hex that bored through its north pole and out its south creating two gigantic volcanoes and spewing out “hex gems” that could be harnessed for great power. The gems also hid a more sinister purpose though, and when placed in the eyes of a corpse the body would rise from its eternal slumber and do the bidding of a mysterious alien consciousness  The humans of Entrath didn’t take too kindly to their tombs being raided and their once great heroes and kings being turned into alien controlled space zombies and the two sides quickly started to clash.

Now the world is locked in war with the human led Ardent faction fighting against the Underworld for control of Entrath. This is where you come in as a player, choosing to join the Ardent with their alliance of humans, elves, orcs and the Native-American-esque fox people the Coyotle or work for the Underworld and their horde of dwarves, vennen (a cross between a spider and an orc) and some samurai bunny rabbits known as the Shin’hare.

Battles take place in the form of card duels and the current pre-alpha build has a setup and basic rule set very similar to the ones used in the Magic:The Gathering Duel of the Planeswalkers digital titles, but beyond the similar appearance and fundamental core there are nuances and gameplay mechanics that are unique to Hex. Each card has two pieces of equipment that apply specifically to them that can be found during PvE dungeon crawls and some cards contain augmentation slots for hex gems that will give them varying permanent buffs such as extra strength or defense.

Since the cards are digital they’ve been given a double back. You could think of it as a three sided card, with additional information such as lore and trophies you’ve unlocked for the card as well as its level stats. Cards that a player uses enough will level up and turn to foil cards as players progress with them. They’re definitely features you couldn’t implement with a physical product and adds variety to the 300 card core set the game will launch with. Players going up against each other with the same deck could have completely different combinations of equipment and gems adding a level of unpredictability you don’t normally see in such games.

Player characters will get the RPG treatment as well with their own leveling system and skill tree. Skills can be used after a player has accrued enough energy to execute them and will vary depending on your class. For instance a warrior might be able to bring an extra creature into battle or a mage could possibly summon a spell from their deck.

Since one major problem with TCG’s has always been the steep learning curve to becoming a decent player, especially when there’s so many people out there just waiting to kick your butt and take your rarest cards away from you. To render such issues null and void Hex will feature an elaborate, content laden PvE dungeon system that ramp players into PvP progressively.

Each PvE dungeon battle will feature its own special set of rules and AI enemies will have their own unique decks and cards. At the end of each dungeon will be a raid boss that players and their friends will have to team up to take out and hopefully gain some rare loot in the process. The world of Entrath is also extremely vast and the devs already have several years of content ready to go that they hope will keep folks raiding dungeons for a very long time.  

Beyond raids other features akin to RPG’s and MMO’s such as auction houses, guilds, AI vendors and crafting systems will be added to the game as development continues. Guilds will be able to make deck banks and members will be able to check out decks you’ve built and rate and critique them. Players will also be able to purchase starter decks and booster packs via microtransactions to augment their collections. Cryptozoic is hoping to have a robust e-sports angle as well and wants to host tournaments and other PvP competitions with real world prizes similar to the ones that are popular in the current TCG scene.

And while the game will initially only feature a core set of 300 cards, annual expansions are planned in the form of 3 blocks. When a new block comes into the play, the oldest will find its way out, keeping the rotation fresh. Old card won’t necessarily go away, but may only be available during certain match types or special PvP tourneys.

Hex is hoping it can make a name for itself with a unique combination of table-top savvy and MMO know-how and they’ve got a team veteran game makers, including World of Warcraft co-creator Kevin Jordan to help them do it. As of the time this article was written Hex’s crowd-sourced Kickstarter campaign had already surpassed its $300,000 goal to the tune of about $1,257,000 so it’s definitely got a chance at making a splash. While there’s no release date yet, Hex will be releasing for PC, Mac and Tablet when it comes to market. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the game gets further into development. 

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