Oct 10, 2007
Sony has an interesting idea with their new card game, Legends of Norrath: Oathbound. The game is deeply embedded into EverQuest I and II, while at the same time it's a completely independent game with its own rules, players and, well, cards.
To keep it tied to EQ there are certain "loot cards," found in booster packs, that give your EQ characters real virtual world items. And while playing EQ, Oathbound players have a chance of finding boosters from slain monsters. You can also jump in and out of games at anytime from EQ, so if you don't feel like settling your differences on the battlefield, you can do it on the card table.
Oathbound is a real cardgame, not just a cheap EQ add-on. There are 376 cards and more will be released as the publisher decides to release them. The rules are complex enough that we couldn't get our heads entirely around it during the half-hour we sat down to see the game. And the deck strategies and card combinations are almost limitless - which is, of course, what makes strategy card games interesting.
Part of the game involves creating your own Avatar card. You can be a red fighter, blue mage, yellow priest or green scout, and each color/character has several specializations and a library of colored cards (and all of the non-colored cards) to build a deck from. We chose a blue mage who received some kind of power bonus every turn or something - like we said: we didn't quite get everything that was going on. His name was Zaptastic and his deck was probably incredibly powerful.
If we'd had more time with the game we could have gone through the game's 10-step tutorial and probably figured out how to play the game. We didn't, so we let the Sony guys show us things. They showed us how to win by either killing our opponent or completing our four increasingly resource-intensive quests before our opponents, which looked like fun.
Oathbound supports a robust trading system, which allows you to select your preferred trading partners and rate people to avoid having to swath through dozens of forum pages of lopsided trades. There are also regular monthly tournaments, on the fly tournaments that start as soon as the player queue is reached and every other type of tournament you can think of right up to the annual World Championship. We think Zaptastic has a pretty good shot at this year.