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Friday, April 6, 2012

Sword Girls – Deep or Shallow?

Hello, it’s been awhile but anyone who read the last entry will know why I was absent in these past few months. Also, it’s not like I’m getting paid to do this (yet), or get donations…at all. So I hope no one takes it like I’ve been slacking off because I haven’t.

If anything I’ve been playing a game called Sword Girls. YES, it’s really called that; this game needs to be given an award for must fucking dumb name ever possibly given for a game. It’s so bad I can’t even say its name aloud with a straight face and I don’t think I ever will. Anyway let’s get to the meat and potatoes because like me I’m sure you got a bunch of things you need to get done.

Sword Girls is a Collectable Card Game hosted by ChangYou and according to its Facebook page, its growing in size for the devoted…how many of those people still play the game is anyone’s guess. The  game has been through 2 Closed Beta tests since last year that I got to partake in both. Sadly I didn’t get to spend much time in the second part, thus lost my chance to get a special promo card for getting 100 wins in a week (maybe I’ll be lucky and they’ll offer it again in some other way). ANYWAY MOVING ON.

The game has four factions. In their most basic form there’s Academy (Beat Down), Vita (Tank & Spank), Crux (Walling & Buffs) and Darklore (Power at a price). There is a story revolving around the four main girls but I’m a reviewer, I write for people that could be short on time so I don’t do fluff so if you want the story details look them up. Google is your friend.

There are several cards you need to get used to. Characters (they give out the orders and can even effect which cards you can use), Followers (think of them as your characters soldiers) and Spells (various effects that run a wide gambit). There is a fourth kind but I’ll get to that in a little while. What you’ll notice on the screen shot I provided above is several numbers on the characters. The first one is Attack (ATK which it will be referred to henceforth). ATK is how much damage this card will deal to the enemy follower.  The one in the middle is Defense (DEF is what it will be referred to as from now on). DEF determines how much of the ATK is nullified before being taken out of the third number, Stamina (STA is how I will refer to it from here on out since that’s how the game has it in shorthand). STA determines how much damage a follower can take before they die. In an interesting note, DEF can be taken into the negatives and you’ll deal even more damage to the unfortunate soul.

Your Character only has Life to worry about in numbers. Once this hits zero you lose. Size is another factor you have to take into consideration. This is the Sword Girls resource system. If at any point your field size would meet or exceed 10 you can’t play anymore cards from your hand. Size also has combat significant. When a follower is killed the Character who was controlling the Follower at the time loses Life equal to the Size of the Follower. Speaking of followers, as long as there is a Follower on your side of the field they will be attacked. If no Followers are present, your Character will take damage equal to the Size of the enemy follower.

I will go on with attacking and cover Spells a bit more but before I do you must know something. Cards are placed down in a time limit of 30 seconds. Once both players are ready (or time runs out) all the cards are revealed and then…a COIN FLIP determines who acts first. Yep, that’s right, the Random Number God will determine if you’re worthy of acting first. Also, see the five zones on each side? Well, the cards have to be placed in number order. So sadly you can’t take Card A and just slap it in Zone five to avoid it from taking a hit to something that eats cards in Zone one for breakfast. If you want to keep it safe you got to clog up Zone one first with something else, which might be counterproductive since it could force you to use a card in a way you didn’t want to just so you can have the card you wanted to play avoid being a victim.

Speaking of order and chaos one thing you got to keep in mind is that no matter what, before any of your Follower can attack your Spells activate first. So if you really need to heal someone and if the opponent gets first strike, chances are you just wasted a card. Speaking of inopportunity, YOU DON’T CHOOSE WHO ATTACKS WHO OR WHAT EFFECT EFFECTS WHO! So if your Follower is feeling stupid they could attack the worst possible opponent while leaving the weakened Follower alive longer and possibly kill the stupid person who was stupid enough not to finish them off. Your spell could affect the unintended target. As for more on attacking when your Follower attacks an enemy follower, if they survive they will be counterattacked by the target.

Now I know what a good deal of you might be thinking. “Why the hell should I play this game when I cannot control anything!?” As strange as this might sound reading it at first you have more control then you realize. You’re probably laughing so just get it all out of your system now before I go on. Are you done now? Good. Now as I was saying, the real planning as it were is all done during the deck building phase. You know, figuring out how you want to win. As of yet there doesn’t seem to be too many ways to assure victory (Debuff the enemy to death, buff your Follwers to crazy heights, Size manipulation to kill the opponents in fewer turns are all I can think of off the top of my head). As for the randomness factor of battles you can think of it as a more action packed poker.

I’m not a math person but I can see that quite a bit of probability comes into play and those who will take the top ranks in number of wins will more than likely have a high understanding of Mathematics. However since things are still random that Mathlete is still as vulnerable to the wrath of the Random Number God as the rest of us not-so-educated mortals. They’ll just be able to circumvent it better on average and will more likely blame themselves for misplays (unless they’re conceded as all hell) than those of us who can’t see through the illusion of no control.

Speaking of controlling stuff I never did get to that fourth kind of card. That fourth kind I was telling you about (for some stupid as hell reason) also falls under the Spell classification. These are Material cards. They cannot be placed in the deck and have no effects of their own, but what they do have Is the power to be made into new cards. Each time you fight, win or lose you get these at random (well, you ALWAYS get these but which ones and how many are random). Doing Dungeon runs will grant you materials you can’t get fighting people and will give you a copy of the Boss card for your own use if you’re victorious over the dungeon ten times (or once if you’re some no lifer who manages to be the very first person on the server to beat the Dungeon). Of course it’s to be expected that the Boss character will be gimped to hell and back in some way (as I speak I have yet to run through a Dungeon that many times to obtain a Boss card).

As for match making the game assures that you’re matched with someone who has about the same Deck Points as you, so unless you decide to play at off hours or such, if you’re poor as all fuck you won’t be running into Mr. and Ms. Suitcase unless they take all the rare cards out of their deck that mommy and daddy bought them and sink down to commoner level. That’s right newbies, no need to worry about running into them unless you happen to be loaded or a dedicated (read: no life having) player. Oh, and in case no one is currently available you’ll be matched against an NPC.

Alright, it seems like I’ve been all sunshine and farts up until now and that’s because I save my complaints for last. Everything has its downsides and if it didn’t it would be too good to be true. First off is the “Booster Packs”. I say “Booster Packs” because one card for 25 Tokens is not a pack! Before I go further into this I just like to tell you the Token to Dollar conversion rate just to put this into perspective. $1 equals 100 Tokens. Let’s say, for whatever reason you want to get 100 cards. That’s going to cost you (mind you this is the price of NORMAL packs) $25 (2500 tokens). And the worse part about that is it doesn’t even assure you that you’ll get a Double Rare. The pull rates for those are so fucking abysmal it’s not even funny! And the less said about your odds of getting a TRIPLE RARE, the better. Worry not! If you want a Double Rare that badly and don’t have a trust fund, or some illegal trade to help feed your love of this game you can always CRAFT FOR IT! Yep. With some exceptions ANY CAR YOU WANT can be crafted. So, how much would you need to make ONE Double Rare? Well this YouTube video will show you. Mind you its sped up, I don’t even want to know how much of time or money this person wasted just for this ONE CARD!:

Another gripe I got relates to match making. The system is flawed grossly but only because this game is in its infancy and could be fixed with just more players coming into (and sticking with) the game. It’s barely been out a week and we already have some no lifers who have netted 500+ wins. How is this achievement in wasting your life relevant you might ask? WELL IF YOU STOP INTERUPTING ME I’LL TELL YOU! You see the game seems to have a system where it separates people who have netted 500+ wins and those who are still under this amount. These people now have very few human opponents to play against and I’m sure a few of them are Mr. and Ms. Suit case. I don’t envy the person who isn’t so well funded who must face off against them or just an NPC. This problem isn’t helped that even your Dungeon fights are taken into account for your wins. So if you really like to grind Dungeons you’ll find yourself at 500 wins before you know it.

If those issues aren’t bad enough then the one thing that might ultimately kill the game before it had even a chance in the states would be the server instability. I’ve had difficulties getting into different channels since the start. Some days better than others, but really this shouldn’t be happening in this much. I’m sure they’re on it but if they don’t hurry up and resolve the issue the game is going to get a reputation about shitty servers and that will be the beginning of the end for Sword Girls in any English speaking Countries and beyond. I don’t care if they got to bring the servers down for two weeks; they better fix it with quickness. And speaking of servers would it kill a Maid to allow us to see how many people are currently IN a Channel before we enter it?

BOY I did a lousy job keeping this brief. By now I’m at least five pages in on Microsoft word and 2000 plus words deep, not counting the title.

Judgment: Despite all the gripes I have I would recommend this game to people, but I cannot heavily recommend it at this point in time due to server instability. ChangYou, I know you need money, but before anyone (besides that already gave) gives you any serious change you need to FIX YOUR SHIT! If you’re going to head in to stay long term, unless you’re loaded to the gills I suggest making four accounts and get a feel for each Faction and deciding which one you’ll want as your “Main”. If you plan on spending no money you better be prepared to grind for Dungeons and Materials to expand your collection. If you end up wanting to rock or at the very least sample all four at once you can’t go wrong with the Delux deck. It gives you the other three decks at a nice discount and some exclusive cards.

Well, now I’m going to see if I can’t get in at this time and if you like a donation of any amount would do because I’d like to expand on my collection of Maids a bit faster.

1 comment:

  1. So the entire game is centered around the deckbuilding phase, meaning you need to make a one-size fits all strategy, and after that, you basically are just left with hope and the RNG gods?

    Fuck that. Count me out.