Keep Scrollin’ Scrollin’ Scrollin’: Mojang Release Scrolls

Hand down, hand up, draw up, draw up.

Well then, here it is: the second game from Minecraft developers Mojang. Scrolls officially launched yesterday, after almost two years in paid beta. The virtual collectible card game/board game was never going to be the next Minecraft, and they never intended for it to, so hey, let’s forget all that and talk about what it is. It’s out, for starters, at a new lower price of $5 (£3.20-ish).

In case you’ve missed it, I’ll explain. Scrolls is somewhere between a collectible card game and a board game. Players build decks with units, spells, structures and all that, then deploy them onto hexy grids in turn-based battling. As well as, obviously, multiplayer battling, it’s got singleplayer skirmishes and ‘Trials’ challenges.

This being a CCG, new cards (sorry, scrolls) come from somewhere, and Scrolls does let you buy them all (eventually) with the virtual currency earned by playing. Folks can craft scrolls from lesser ones and sell scrolls to other players too. Mojang also sell scrolls for real money but, to keep the game balanced, have put a cap on the amount players can spend.

This recorded showmatch demonstrates how it all works, and Scrolls does have a demo if you want to see for yourself.

Scrolls first came onto the scene a fair while before virtual CCGs like Hearthstone, Infinity Wars, and Hex, and I wonder how much those have drawn players away as it crawled through beta. Folks who’ve played enough, what do you make of Scrolls in comparison to its rivals?

28 Comments

  1. eleclipse says:

    Scrolls is a really nice game that try, and imo succeeded, to innovate a little the genre (while hex is basically a magic rip-off ).

    The game is more complex and deep than hearstone (which is a nice game but far too simple for my taste, also too “cartoon-like”). I really like the tactical side (bear in mind tought that this mean some game can really take some time).

    Plus it’s payment model it more than fair.

    So basically if you like tcg and need some more dept than heartstone, and you don’t want another magic clone but something different this game is for you.

    Sadly the one real problem was that the community, while great, was rather small (due to a total lack of marketing know-how imo), i really hope that now it’ll be more popular, it surely deserve it.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I think it’s a great game, but unsuited to playing online against random people. It’s a great game, again, really well designed, everything else works great, but its flow is just terrible. 90 second long turns, and games which last frequently up to 40 minutes, often turns games into abject tedium after a little while. It’d probably be pretty fun to play with friends, or if there were a particularly well fleshed-out single player, like…War of Omens comes to mind (That’s a good’n!). But because I and all interested friends would need to both purchase the game and play a considerable amount to get cards (the payment model is great, mind, but decent amounts of grinding are still very much required), I just can’t enjoy it.

      • kizu says:

        Well, if you’re not a really experienced player, in some cases the 90 seconds are just enough to think about all the things you can do with your board and your hand, as there can be a lot of possibilities and ways to do things. Also, I’m not that fond of playing online with random people, but I find Scrolls to be ok in this regards. Yes, matches sometimes could be rather long, but I would always prefer longer, but more complex and interesting matches between fast and simple ones.

        • Kitsunin says:

          I guess that’s the thing, the game can be fast, but there’s always a decent chance you’re going to get paired with someone who always uses all of those damn 90 seconds. That’s just too long for me. I played a round of Judgment once and that was even more unbearable because then I was needing to use all 90 seconds to figure out how to use my deck. It was awful, every game in the series was tedious, despite getting 3 wins and 1 loss I retired because I just couldn’t take it, 3 half-hour + games in a row.

          I might enjoy it if there were, say, a blitz 15 second matchmaking, people can play vs. bots to learn their deck…but then that creates a problem because of the way you have to wait for the server to process every action you take. That is just plain silly because there are no interrupts or anything the opponent can do which matters at all, and yet sometimes I have turns which take several times as long because I have a wait a second or so between every action.

          • eleclipse says:

            I fee you! and i also would love a “blitz”, luckly after some match as you go up the ranks you’ll find more experienced people that usually don’t use all the 90 seconds.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I complain, but to be fair, I installed it on my tablet, now knowing the Android version exists, and I’m certainly having fun once again (CCGs are made for mobile devices IMO). Also, gems making up for the price drop: Whee! Exploring Order and Decay decks via newly affordable premades is neat!

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    There’s a rather bizarre bit of non-logic going on here regarding the Linux version of Scrolls. There’s nothing in the game itself that would prevent a Linux build from being pushed, and yet there’s no Linux release. Why? Because they went and made a launcher for it for only WIn, OSX and Android. I realise that Linux is only like a 5% market, but with the kind of numbers Mojang are likely to push on this, that’s a rather big 5% to just throw away for what could have been so little effort.

    • salty-horse says:

      Mojang has released an experimental Linux client a few months ago, so at least they’ve worked on it, and maybe still do.

    • scottmmmm says:

      The addition of another supported platform would increase the cost of development, though. The game has only just made it out of Beta, so the intention so far has been getting the game itself right.

      If you add support for another platform you have to test every release on that platform too, which doubles the test effort required to build a release. This slows the whole thing down.

      Now that they are owned by Microsoft they might not be too keen on making it work on Linux. But I agree with you, in the long run it would be a good idea.

  3. Tinotoin says:

    I played the hell out of this a year or so back – and really liked it. My interest waned a bit, and then Hearthstone got its claws into me. Apparently an iPad version is coming “soon” – so I’ll definitely be getting back into it.

  4. Gothnak says:

    Is there a Single Player Campaign at all as the idea of joining a game where everyone else has all the cards and i need to unlock loads fills me with dread.

    • eleclipse says:

      Yep, there is, it’s a trial system with increasing difficulty against the ai, each trial award you gold you can use for buying card or trading them

      You can also do a normal battle with the ai (easy, normal, and difficult) and won gold

      There’s also a system of acchievment that help you got a bunch of gold at the start

  5. shinygerbil says:

    Funnily enough, I bought Scrolls a short while after Hearthstone came out – I was hankering for something with a little more meat to it, but not Magic. Scrolls has a few neat little innovations that really made it a joy to play. I dig the art style too. I can’t remember why I stopped playing actually; probably some shiny new toy!

  6. Dawngreeter says:

    Scrolls are pretty awesome. I played Hearthstone a lot more – the games are a lot quicker. I’d say I am not very good at all at scrolls but back in early beta it wouldn’t be strange to run into games that easily last over 30 minutes when both participants have some idea what they’re doing. It’s not boring in itself, there’s strategy happening during the game and stuff. However, when I want to spend a lot of time with a game, it’s usually not a card game. So Hearthstone was better at filling up 30 minute time slots.

    But! The important thing is, Scrolls is awesome. And now it’s on Android tablets too, which means I can play it from bed. And that means I’m going to play a hell of a lot more of it. And not sleep as much.

    Oh and, while we’re still on the wave of Hex’s announcement from yesterday and horrible F2P implementation – it is physically impossible to “pay to win” in Scrolls. You can’t buy cards with real money. Shards, the real money currency, is used only for avatars, starter decks, Judgment tickets (like Arena in Hearthstone) and one of the six “special offer” single cards offered to you weekly. You can’t buy card packs, you can’t spend it on the card market. The only way to actually get the cards is to spend gold, which is earned by playing the game. And my experience is that the gold isn’t very difficult to earn, what with trials, achievements and regular games all netting you decent amounts of it.

    I’d say that’s definitely worth the very, very low entry fee.

    • shinygerbil says:

      “But! The important thing is, Scrolls is awesome. And now it’s on Android tablets too, which means I can play it from bed. And that means I’m going to play a hell of a lot more of it. And not sleep as much.”

      YES I JUST DISCOVERED THIS TOO i’m never going to get anything done ever again

  7. plugmonkey says:

    I’m only here for the Limp Bizkit reference.

  8. Haruspicus says:

    You fuck, now I’ll have Rawhide stuck in my head for all of eternity.

  9. damaki says:

    Scrolls is nice, but it lacks a little something, dunno what, maybe a soul. Hearthstone is cool, but it’s too tactical to my taste, not strategic enough. And no, building a deck is not the only part that should be strategic in such a card game.

  10. emptee says:

    The main problem with the game is the lack of players. The matchmaking used to take 30sec to 1min to find an opponent. Now it takes so long I forget I entered and alt-tabed.

  11. Keiggo says:

    Has anyone here tried the android version? Since it’s free, it makes me worried that it might not be very beginner friendly and just ask me for money all the time. Can anyone share their experience of it? Thank you!

    • Dawngreeter says:

      It’s only free in the sense that you can download it for free. You need an account to log in, I believe. And that costs five United Statesian Money Units. I believe you can pay that through the app itself, though I’m not sure because I had already bought the game a long time back. No separate purchase necessary, I used my existing account on the tablet and everythign went fine.

      There is no other cost associated with the game that you have to pay in order to play it. You can buy some things using real money, but not everything. The only possible way of collecting cards is actually playing the game. User experience is, in my opinion, really really nice. I was comfortable smudging fingers all over the screen and never felt anything about the game was confusing or not precise enough. The game plays pretty much identically as on the PC.

      The only possible problems might come with in-game chat that you can use during the match. I didn’t even try using that at this point and feel it might be odd having keyboard take half your screen just to say “GG” or something. Note that I have no idea if that’s actually the case – the main screen during the match keeps chat hidden and you’d have to manually open it up. Which is nice.

  12. 3Form says:

    I enjoyed Scrolls for a while a couple of years ago. But then I encountered a properly refined deck and it ruined the game for me. The interesting features that Scrolls has are that unlike most other card games you don’t lose if your deck runs out, you simply shuffle your graveyard and continue. Secondly you sacrifice cards for either mana or more cards.

    So the really refined decks simply control you whilst drawing more and more and more cards until eventually they have such an advantage in mana and cards in hand that you can’t do anything. They are pretty much drawing 20 cards a turn by the time they crush you.

    Once I’d seen this in action I realised that that was the only way to play and lost interest. I’m still waiting for a card game with a broad meta (where everyone has comparable cards when matchmaking) but perhaps I’m just fussy.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      I hate to be that guy, but I just don’t think CCGs work as actual fun games. I mean I get why people like them because they combine games with hoarding/bling, but they are always poor games qua games.

      • Tomhai says:

        Playing duel of champions has presented me with more tactical options/choices than any mainstream strategy game. That’s an indicator of a good game qua game for me.
        Which reminds me that anytime CCG-s are discussed on RPS, Magic, Heartstone, Hex and maybe Infinity Wars are brought up but not Duel of Champions. And I would strongly argue that the latter is deeper in terms of actually playing it (cant argue about collecting and deck building)

  13. Berzee says:

    First the MMO and now this — Bethesda is really exploring new horizons lately.

  14. itsbenderingtime says:

    It makes me a little sad that Card Hunter has gotten lost as a point of reference when we talk about all these CCG-based games that are coming out. It doesn’t have the rock-star power that Mojang and Blizzard have, but it’s a great game. In fact, RPS knows this, since they were the ones who recommended it to me in the first place!

  15. Shardz says:

    We shall see how this pans out, but I think I will stick with Ascension for now.

    EDIT: I broke down and bought this for $5 through the Google Play store, which unlocks all versions since it’s cross-platorm. I definitely changed my mind after realizing that the IAP isn’t too heavy and you can earn “Shards” and “Gold” through normal means of playing the game. It seems fairly deep for a premise which is relatively basic. I would draw ties between HoMM tactical battles & M:TG to arrive at the general game play this offers. The client production values are nice and I wish WoTC would take notice. There are some quirky bugs with the Android version at present; the most glaring one is typing in the chat window, which will not let you add spaces in your sentences. I expect it to iron out soon, but this game seems to be a good value for $5.

  16. Premium User Badge

    ErraticGamer says:

    …Wait, so it’s called “Scrolls” because every card in your deck is actually a “scroll”? You’ve got a giant stack of scrolls instead of a deck of cards? The game is effectively called “Cards”?

    Weird. I did not know that.

    I mean, fine, they can use whatever paradigm they like, but at that point the metaphor kind of stops making sense, doesn’t it? Everybody understands a deck of cards, and shuffling it, and drawing new cards and discarding old ones. What’s the notion here, you’ve got a room full of rolled-up scrolls and you open 7 at a time randomly? :P