Usually upon discovering a juicy slice of news, first stop is the monolithic RPS archives where I spend a lifetime reading manuscripts on the games in question. It's a herculean task which is rewarded only by a dip into the fountain of youthtube, where I am renewed and can spend equal time scratching out a post on ancient rolls of parchment. Finally they allow me to die - only to be replaced by a clone who begins the same work on a new venture. But! I have broken free of the cycle by discovering that not a word has been recorded about mostly cardboard-based Cryptozoic's MMOTCG Hex: Shards of Fate within our halls. Quick, hasten forth, and learn all there is to know, now that the Beta phase has started.
It all started, as so many things have, with a mid-2013 Kickstarter. The difference here being that over two million dollars were pledged, giving Hex approximately 759% of its original monetary target. That probably changed the plans somewhat. You can see the highly amusing pitch below, which lays out the letters-slammed-randomly-together genre to be exactly what you'd expect.
Five colours? Turning cards sideways to attack? A stack of triggers? Fans of a certain collection of wizarding ways, a bringing together of sorcery one might say, are probably seeing something a little familiar. Copying good, popular game design is rarely a bad thing of course - assuming you can add enough originality of your own to both produce a unique product and stay out of legal hot water. On those grounds Hex seems to stand rather firm, with its highly customisable cards and the "double-backed" (har-har) feature that exploits the digital medium to its fullest. That's before the actual MMO elements of quests, a character to level up and so on.
Obviously things went very well and progressed into an Alpha, at which point I stopped hearing anything about it. The odd muttering on the wind of a Magic: The Gathering Twitch chat or idle tweet. Mostly people asking to the aether "has anyone played Hex, is it any good?" and the aether replying "uh." Until today! When a press release reminded me that the game exists. It pointed to a brand new landing page, and that's when I started to get a little confused.
You might notice that page is hosted by a company called Gameforge, who host a variety of browser F2P games and European servers for client-based ones. There's also a link to a trailer on that page, which with a little investigation seems to be this ten month old one with the Gameforge logo slapped on the front. There's also no mention of Cryptozoic, though it does reference "Hex Entertainment" in the legal footer - a company that seems to exist only to be put in those and EULAs.
All a bit odd, but mostly seemingly the product of a hastily prepared European launch. Once you've signed up for the beta I'd recommend sticking to the US site, where there's all manner of information including regular updates and a rather active forum. The below trailer shows off a little more of the mechanics. Most importantly, it's about Hex's race of walking bunnies - the cutest horde ever.
If anyone out there's been in the alpha - how's it going? A rival to Hearthstone, Solforge, Duels of the Planeswalkers et al? Closer to MTGO? Something else entirely? Based on that trailer, calling it a homage to Magic would be a best case scenario, with rip-off the counter. Accurate? Let us know in the comment depths.