Avid cardies and newcomers alike were at home in the Free Realms Trading Card Game panel on Saturday at the Fan Faire. The panelists covered a plethora of topics, including the bare basics of what the TCG was, how game play works, tips on deck building, the Card Duelist job and upcoming features of the game.
Digital and Physical Cards
We first learned the difference between digital and physical TCG cards. The digital card packs can be purchased with Station Cash™ from within the Trading Card Game interface. Once a digital pack is opened, the player is delivered 10 virtual game cards and 1 in-game loot card. The physical card packs can be purchased at brick and mortar stores such as Target or Gamestop. These packs have 10 physical game cards that allow you to play with your friends outside of Free Realms, and will have a code to redeem 50 Station Cash™ inside the game, as well as a chance to receive a rare foil or exclusive redeemable card!
We were also reminded that players who pay for membership are entitled to one free digital booster pack each month! To claim this free pack, you must log in to the TCG lobby, where the pack will be delivered to you. The date on which you receive your first free pack becomes your “anniversary date”, and every free pack thereafter will be delivered on that same date the following month!
The Game Board
The TCG game board is fairly simplistic. Your opponent is always on the top half of the screen while you are always on the bottom half. On the right-hand side of the board is the area displaying both you and your opponent’s avatars, your resources and your current score. The left-hand side of the board is divided into three columns where you place your creatures and fight your opponent’s creatures.
The goal of the TCG is to be the first to score 12 points. Points are scored through hunting or winning creature battles.
The use of resources throughout a game is vital. As you place resources in your resource tray, you are given coins which are spent on playing creatures to the field. Some resources may require coins in order to utilize them.
- Coins are gained by having resources in the resource tray
- Only one resource per turn can be added to the tray
- Any card can be used as a resource
- Cards that are not specifically resource cards are turned face down
- Resource-specific cards have special game text to enhance your game play
Creature versus creature battle in the TCG is confusing from an outsider’s view. Have no worries—we finally discovered that all of those crazy numbers do make sense!
- Creatures compare their attack or defense, depending on their position in the battle
- You can play tricks to increase attack or defense
- When both opponents have decided if they will be playing tricks, the top card on your deck is flipped over
- The number of gems on the flipped card is added to your attack or defense
- Example: A creature has 5 attack, and flips a card with 2 gems on it. 5 + 2 = 7; now the creature has 7 attack in the battle.
Deck Building Tips
In the Free Realms TCG, you are able to build a custom deck from your various cards to better suit your play style. Custom decks must have a minimum of 40 cards, with a maximum quantity of 3 for any single card. We were shown a solid example template for building a custom deck.
- Six 1 and/or 2 cost creatures
- Six 3 cost creatures
- Six 4 cost creatures
- Four 5 and/or 6 cost creatures
- Nine resources
- Nine tricks
This will give you a total of 22 creatures, 9 resources, and 9 tricks in your deck, adding up to 40. Having too many cards in your deck could lead to difficulty playing, as it will become hard to pull beneficial cards if your luck is against you, so try to keep your cards close to the minimum amount.
There are four spheres in the TCG, each with its own unique advantages. The spheres are marked by a symbol in the upper right-hand corner of a game card.
- Machine: Strong at deck manipulation, such as manipulating the flips of cards at the top of your deck (yellow cards)
- Nature: Strong at hunting for points and gaining extra cards through game play (green cards)
- Order: Strong at taunting your opponent into attacking you; high defense (blue cards)
- Chaos: Strong at attacking opponents due to their high attack (red cards)
It is suggested that, when you are creating your first custom deck, you should focus on only using cards from one sphere. As you become more experienced in the TCG, feel free to explore your options by expanding to multi-sphere usage in your decks!
Card Duelist Job
The Card Duelist job is a fun way to integrate your Free Realms gaming time with the TCG. You will discover what happened to the original Cardie Crew and eventually get to play against them. You will also get some really cool wearables to use on your player as quest rewards!
Many players have trouble with the various quest scenarios and are always seeking help. Here are some developer tips on beating these scenarios!
- Always be defensive!
- Play 1 cost creatures with good defense
- Play those creatures early in the game!
- The NPC won’t attack if they think they will lose the battle
- After a few turns start playing your heavy hitters!
Good luck with beating the Cardie Crew, they’re a fierce bunch of players!
The TCG developers opened the floor to the audience after this informative session. Here is some of the information we gathered from the experience!
Card Creator: The Card Creator (not necessarily the official name) will allow you to create a card based on your player. You can choose whichever job you have unlocked to be the one featured on the card.
At various steps in your current job level, which were said to be 5, 10 and 15, you get the choice of various game texts to enhance your card. At job level 20 you can create a card with specialized game text, meaning that it will be more advantageous to wait until you are at 20 to create a card based on that job.
You will be able to choose which job-specific clothing you want to wear for the card from within the creator, as well as the background of the card. The card will always be a hero.
When you submit your finalized card to Topps, you will be mailed 10 physical cards that will each have a code to redeem your special card inside the virtual TCG! Since only one of each hero can be used in a deck, that will allow you to redeem a virtual copy for yourself and share the other nine with your friends.
Expansions: After being asked if there will be expansions to the TCG similar to Legends of Norrath, Tom Lischke confirmed that card set #2 is scheduled for release later on this year.
Loot Card Rarity: An audience member asked if certain loot cards, such as the Toyger Whistle, had a higher rarity than others. Tom Lischke stated that each loot card is weighted equally in rarity.
Sprint Events: An avid TCG player asked if Free Realms was planning to offer Sprint Events, a feature available in Legends of Norrath. While not certain about the possibility of hosting Sprints, Tom Lischke did state that the team is still working hard on getting Tournaments ready for players.
Locked Cards: The locked cards are usually a confusing feature of SOE’s trading card games. When questioned, the dev team stated that the only locked cards are the free give-aways, such as the monthly free member booster packs and the original starter pack you receive when playing the TCG for the first time.
Stand-Alone Client: The main difference between the Free Realms Trading Card Game and other Trading Card Games is the inability to launch the TCG interface without logging into the main game first. As a response, the team stated that it would be difficult to offer a stand-alone client at this time due to tie-ins with your game character, but they will consider giving a launch option from the web site in the future.
In-Game Card Drops: One feature that Legends of Norrath has brought to EverQuest and EverQuest II is promotional cards dropping from creatures during select weekends. The team said that they do plan to implement this eventually in Free Realms, and would like to have their own TCG weekends.
As a casual TCG player, I personally learned a lot from this panel, especially with respect to how attack and defense are figured out. Some great information was freely given, and we have a lot to look forward to.
One last comment, in response to a question about whether or not the 4 million player packs could be geared toward the TCG, was that there was no plan for a pack yet, but that “something cool should be coming up in the next week or so!”. I’ll take that as a Soon™! Author’s note: We assume now that the “something cool” mentioned during the panel is referring to the double ticket event, scheduled to hit Free Realms today.