Magic Card Tricks: Spectromancer Demo

By Kieron Gillen on October 23rd, 2008 at 10:33 am.

We’ve mentioned Spectromancer before, in its various Betas. However, it’s out now, and it’s got a demo for anyone who’s interested to download. It’s similar to the first Cleric-beta, but with added multiplayer (hotseat, LAN and online), so everything I said about it back then holds true now. It’s an entertaining Magic the Gathering-derived (which is fine, as it’s done by blokes who did Magic) card-combat game and worth a shot. And if you need a better explaination, some gameplay footage’s is beneath the cut…

I find the music oddly relaxing. Also, Sexy Cards.

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12 Comments »

  1. Mr Pink says:

    I think I might get this. Really enjoyed the betas, and the multiplayer seemed really well implemented. The singleplayer is decent, but I think it’s the multiplayer that would keep me coming back for more.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Mtg without the horribly maligned “pay more money to win more” element? Physical card games often have great design. Poker has fog of war, table top war games never do(some do employ hidden cards truth be told).

    But to me for a game to be truely fun my opponent can’t know everything. There needs to be misdirection, suprise. But by that i’m addressing table top games which i’m otherwise in love with.

    I’m not at a gaming system atm but i’ll try this later.

  3. Dizet Sma says:

    @ Heliocentric

    “Table top wargames never have fog of war”

    Refereed miniature games, which were de rigueur back in the day *always* had fog of war and most of the major wargames rule groups had something to simulate FoW.

    Many, many board wargames have methods of obfuscating strength / type / location of opposing forces, from the use of ? counters to disguise stacks in Squad Leader to the neat rule of “everything’s a Tiger until identified” in Patton’s Best, but maybe we’re talking about different definitions of wargames.

  4. theleif says:

    @ Heliocentric

    Europe Engulfed?

    http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/6205

    Nice mechanic for fog of war.

  5. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    I can’t leave this game alone. I played the original demo so much that I felt compelled to give them £12 and unlock the other classes and full campaign. It really is a very elegant and relaxing game. Your hand is somewhat random so you have to make the best of what you’re given, but there’s plenty of scope for strategems and combination ‘plays’. This ‘random hand’ element, plus the fact that no-one can purchase super cards appeals to me more than the MAGIC format. Online battles are fast and satisfying with each game taking about 15 minutes. Highly recommended.

  6. Quirk says:

    I played the demo. It was insanely addictive and cost me a lot of time when I should have been getting things done, to the point I had to uninstall it. And now RPS are unleashing the temptation on me again…

  7. qrter says:

    I liked the beta demo at the time, I’ll give this a try again.

    Does this have sexier Sexy Cards than the sexy Sexy Cards of The Witcher? .. FIIIIIIIIIGHT!!

  8. Rhygadon says:

    It’s a great game — and rather deeper than it looks at first glance. (For example, in non-campaign matches, you can’t have the same card as your opponent. This gives you partial knowledge of their “hand”, since you’ll each have 1/3 of the possible cards in each color.) The variety of opponents in Campaign mode also help to keep it from getting stale.

    I also very highly recommend the author’s first game in this vein, Astral Tournament. It looks a bit dated but runs fine, and I think it’s the most perfectly balanced card game I’ve ever played. I’ve sunk well over a hundred hours into that thing, mostly in 30-minute brain-clearing sessions while writing. (Its successor, Astral Masters, was more complex and CCG-ish, with deck building etc., but I found it unbalanced and ultimately less satisfying than the original.)

    Oh, and it’s not quite true that it’s “by the same blokes who did Magic”: Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias came on as co-producers because they liked the earlier Astral games, but the core design is by the guy who designed those games, Alexey Stankevich.

    A word of warning: I registered the game through Penny Arcade’s playgreenhouse.com, the reg code didn’t work, and two emails to their support address have yielded no reply. Three days later, I still don’t have the game I paid for. You might want to go with the in-game buy button, which pulls up a different payment site.

  9. Chris says:

    Hmm, I thought it was meh. I finished the demo and by the end I sort of felt like I was doing the same thing over and over. Much like Puzzle Quest actually in that vein actually.

    I’d look to see what cards I got dealt and work the common combos that worked well. It’s much like MTG, but without the fun part of actually building your deck. MTG’s gameplay is fun, but a big part of that fun is finding out if the theme/strategy you were going for worked in the field.

    Spectromancer has the game play, but not the building phase, which makes it feel like 1/2 a game.

  10. Lorc says:

    I think Spectormancer’s biggest problem is looking like a CCG without actually being one, which can seem almost a betrayal if you really enjoy the deck-building aspect of those games.

    Still, its absence does let Spectromancer be /different/ in ways that you may or may not find enjoyable.

    It’s a good game by the way. Even with random “deck” selection, the better player usually wins. I dislike how many “suddenly, I win!” cards there are, but that’s just a taste issue.

    More variety of cards would be nice too – but a smaller pool is better than insufficiently playtested useless and/or broken cards.

    But, again: it’s good, and the demo contains a surprisingly large amount of the full game.

  11. MesoCog says:

    As an old school mtg guy, I find this game to be an amusing and simple variant on the card dueling concept.

    It’s a cg, not a ccg given that you don’t really build decks (they’re random) – a mechanic that I rather missed. Initially, I found the novelty of steady resource (mana) generation each turn refreshing, but this design feature (along with the lack of card interrupts) creates a pace and churn of creatures dying that reduces combo possibilities practically speaking. While more than two card combos are possible, you won’t see them often. The story is rather uninspiring (could be the presentation, click next, next next). The game could have been done in Flash possibly. It needs more cards and definitely a few more songs, though the one you get is good. I’m still looking for a good (pay once) deck-building cg.

    I bought it because I think supporting this type of development is worthy, and for a simple cg it is good fun. I imagine I will play it until I’ve thoroughly tested the AI.

  12. sandy mason says:

    when playing spectromancer multiplayer i get into a match and i put one card down and it says the other player wins, someone in chat of the game said it was a rotor problem but i can play sometimes the full match. please help. sandy

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