Published on February 19th, 2014 | by Gregg Miller1
A Deck Builder for a Digital Age
Gregg Explains: War of Omens
War of Omens is a Kickstarter funded, online deck-building game with an interesting twist to it. Incorporating elements of collectable card games, this game runs with three thematic factions that have their own feel and play style.
In War of Omens, like many deck building games, you start with a standard deck of resource cards used to buy new cards into your deck, that you will then cycle through as it returns to your turn. Instead of the old deckbuilder model of players just playing to get victory points, War of Omens you’re building your deck to generate up to four resources as well as the cards and power to reduce your opponent’s health to zero. Another difference between this game and the average deck builder is you’re buying from a personal pool or line-up of cards that consists of cards you designate as your deck.
Each turn begins with any cards that have passive activation abilities, activating them. After this, you’re able to play any cards you have in hand, use any of the four resources you’ve earned, and buy cards from your line-up. Cards bought from the line-up are played immediately, generating any On Play abilities and effects.
At the end of each turn, you draw up to three cards into your hand, to a limit of four cards total. You don’t have to play all the cards in your hand, and certain strategies call for holding back, to setup a better combination on the upcoming turn.
The three factions focus on different mechanics, and you build a deck around one of the heroes of that faction.
- The Daramek deal with sacrifice mechanics, as well as generating random additional resources. While not predictable, you learn to play up the odds by having multiple-resource-generating cards.
- Vespitole has some of the most expensive cards, but their signature mechanics are additional card draw, and raw resource generation. It tends to lean towards picking which resource will allow you to kill your opponent and focusing on it, along with gold.
- The Metris focus on using cards that stay in play for a set number of turns, after which they are taken out of your deck. This makes their decks incredibly light, and only filled with the base resource cards. However, the effects of their cards tend to approach victory in odd ways: punishing your foe for attacking, for example.
An interesting approach with this game, is that each of the three factions has a single artist working on that faction’s cards, making an incredibly unified look and feel to each faction. This reminds me of the days when you could expect something great from AEG. They used to use a particular artist to do most of the art for a faction on Legend of the Five Rings, or Warlord: Saga of the Storm which really made the factions feel distinct from each other while being consistent with themselves.
On top of picking a faction, and a faction hero, you also build the line-up for your deck based on ten cards selected from the faction card list. The line-up is randomly filled with one of those ten cards, and at the end of each turn, a new card is added to the line-up to refill what was purchased. If none of the cards in the line-up was purchased, then the bottom card in the list is discarded. This adds a level of strategy of deciding if you’re going to buy cheap cards to keep an expensive one in the line-up a little longer, or if you’re going to cut your losses, and let the bottom card go, in favor of saved resources.
Resources have been mentioned a few times, and there are four. Gold is the standard resource used to buy cards from the line-up. While you do want a sizable amount, gold alone won’t win the game. Food can heal ally cards, the hero, or make Feed actions be taken. These can be additional resource generation, attacks, or other effects. Skulls are direct damage to opponent ally cards, or the opposing hero. Magic is the wild card resource. It can be used as money, food, or skulls, and tends to be a resource that’s good as a reserve for large plans.
Another interesting spin from this game is that the cards you have can be leveled up. So far, leveling a card up seems to only reduce the gold cost of a card by 1. In order to level up a card, you need to buy the booster packs with the silver, or gems you earn and buy respectively. When a pack is opened, you get a choice of three cards, of the same rarity (common, uncommon, rare, epic).
After you select a card, it gains experience points. The first level takes about four card picks to reach level two, while it seems you need ten-to-twenty picks to reach the third level of a card. In addition, each hero has a special card they gain when the hero reaches level four, and that card gains experience when the hero reaches each level.
Recently, the developers came out with a nice tutorial that explains many of the functions of the game to the Kickstarter backers. Some particulars are left out (like the draw mechanics for the end of the turn), but it teaches you what each resource is good for, and how to interact with the cards in your hand, and line-up. This is definitely a game to look into if you enjoy deck building, but feel rather tired of the “communal solitaire” that tends to rule most other deck building games.
Update: Some updates were made to the game after the original writing of this article. Now when you level up the various heroes, you actually see what the card is that’s tied to them. At level 4 you get the hero only card, and every 4 levels after the card improves.
Additionally, they’ve listed exactly what rarity types appear in each of the booster packs. Oak contains Common, Uncommon, Scarce, Rare, and Coin. Silver (which is only available after you’ve bought at least 1 gem, the micro transaction currency) only gives Uncommon and above, with Coin being the most rare (I have yet to pull a Coin from the Oak pack). The Gem Pack only contains Rare and Coin cards, but you can only buy these with a gem.
The Campaign mode now has a “Coming Soon” banner over it. Wording on certain cards was made more clear, letting you know which cards have effects that you can Feed for additional effects.
Finally, though this was the first major change I saw, the beginning tutorial is incredibly solid now. It puts you through a demo game explaining how the resources work and interact, and how to recognize a few basic combinations.