Hex: Shards of Fate is a trading card game where players customize their decks to battle NPCs and other players. Players can enter a PvE arena to compete in tournaments for gold and new items, or players can upgrade their decks through the game's shop.
|Publisher: Hex Entertainment, Gameforge
Type: MMO Trading Card Game
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Pros: +Extensive tutorial. +PvE arena tournaments. +Large catalog of cards.
Cons: -Lacking combat animations. -Grind for new cards. -Some buggy animations.
Hex: Shards of Fate is an MMO trading card game developed by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Collect cards and build a customized deck to fit your playstyle. Players start a match by drawing seven cards and summoning monsters to the field by playing Resource cards. You play as a Champion with a special ability that can be called upon in battle, and also determines the type of deck you ought to build. Diminish your opponent's health to 0 or send all of their cards to the graveyard to win the game. A robust tutorial teaches you the basics and awards cards to begin customizing your deck. When you’re confident in your skills, you can enter the Frost Ring Arena and compete against NPCs for new cards and rewards. Earn gold by winning matches and spend it in the Shop for cards and booster decks. Or exchange real world currency for Platinum to expand your card collection. The way you build your deck determines whether you win or lose.
Hex Key Features:
- Unique Champion Heroes – players play as champion heroes that offer abilities to be activated in battle, and determine play style.
- Extensive Tutorial – teaches new players the basics of the game and rewards cards upon completion.
- Frost Ring Arena – PvE tournament allots prizes in the form of cards and gold, based on player performance.
- Deck Customization – create your own deck by collecting cards, building a playstyle that suits you.
- Huge Catalog of Cards – collect and trade with other players or purchase via the Auction House.
Hex Featured Video
By Sean Sullivan
I’m not experienced at card games. When I played Yu-Gi-Oh, I bought knock-off God cards from the bodega around the corner. When I played Magic: The Gathering, I preferred to stare at the trippy art than worry about building my deck. So when I installed Hex: Shards of Fate, I was a bit wary, worrying this was going to be a knock-off of Hearthstone. To my pleasant surprise, I found Hex to be a fun, accessible, and simple card game with a great community and development team. I don’t even want to write this right now; I want to be winning cards so I can get revenge on the player who just beat me mercilessly.
A New Card Game
For players like myself, Hex does a fantastic job of introducing the game’s mechanics. An extensive tutorial walks you through each step and highlights every aspect of the user interface. It’s a simple game. Before jumping into a match you’re asked to pick between four races—Human, Orc, Dwarf, and Shin’Hare—where your choice reflects your starting deck. I like to charge into fights without thinking, ready for a brawl, so I chose Orc. Thrust into the game, cards are placed on a solomonic magic circle, creating an atmosphere of some ancient, ritualized game. You soon realize that the game plays a lot like Magic: The Gathering to an uncanny degree at first. However, it’s not a clone. Hex builds upon principles laid out in every competitive card game.
The game starts by drawing seven cards. As you scan your hand, you’ll find Resource cards and cards that need resources to be activated. Sound familiar? You can play one Resource card per turn, and decks are typically made of 2 resource types, where resources tend to be indicative of a particular play style. Players start with 20 health, and when health reaches 0 you're sent back to the lobby. Since there's no reshuffling your deck, once your cards are in the graveyard, they stay dead (unless you have a resurrection ability) and you lose. Still in the tutorial, my first Troop Card was a Dragon Knight, requiring 3 resource cards to be summoned. At the beginning of my third turn, I had three Ruby Resources on the field. Dragon Knight was ready to attack. When you do attack, you don't attack your opponent's cards. Instead, you go for the jugular, attacking the player's champion directly. Your opponent can than choose to defend against your attack or let it pass through to chip away some health.
As I stated before, you don't play as yourself in Hex. Instead, you pick a Champion, mine was a raging Orc. Every Champion has a charge power that can be activated periodically during a match. When you play a resource, you gain a point towards your charge power. The champion Gozzog can spend 2 charges to deal 1 damage while also gaining 1 health. As an Orc, my ability let me draw an additional card at the expense of 2 health. Champions have to be used tactfully, as each one complements some decks while being meaningless, or irrelevant, to others.
For being a simple card game, Hex looks good and plays well. The card art, normally my favorite part of any card game, is well-done, reminiscent of similar card games. The simple effects when placing a card are satisfying, even feeling like your slapping the card on the table. Even more, some cards activate unique sound effects. When I activated my Arena Brawler, it was to the chorus of a cheering gladiatorial stadium. While subtle, it adds to the fantastical nature of the game, as if the cards had a life of their own (but not to the levels ascribed in Yu-Gi-Oh). The music has an eerie, foreboding quality that I enjoyed. It sounds like a montage leading up to the climax of a film, where you watch the wicked wizard finalizing his plans for some fantastical domination. It then segways into an orchestral buildup before looping once more.
Also, minimal lighting effects keep the game moving along between phases as different cards are placed. Glowing lines indicate cards targeted effects, making it easy to track what’s happening. The central icon of the ritualistic-playing field alternates to indicate the turn's phase. The effects add up to a potpourri that's easy on the eyes while keeping it interesting enough to keep playing. Some players might yearn for more active animations. However, I prefer the simple approach. I’m the type of player who turns off combat animations in Civilization, not just to speed up the game, but because animations are a distraction from tactics.
Many of the cards you play have special abilities, typically bolded. Some abilities can only be learned through experience. A Brood Creeper creates a SpiderSwarm every time he attacks a Champion. I had no idea what that meant until I was on the receiving end of a SpiderSwarm. Hex could improve itself by adding tooltips for every bolded term, like Swiftstrike. Other terms like “Rage” are bolded in green and do link to a tooltip. But more phrases could use linking. I shouldn’t have to head to Google to discover the added benefit of playing a Ruby Aura card.
Frost Ring Arena
After completing the tutorial you’re invited to test your deck in the Frost Ring Arena, a PvE tournament that rewards items and gold. Holding a staff with whimsical faces, Hogarth, the Frost Ring Arena master, greets you patronizingly. The arena pits you against NPCs, where your progress determines what rewards you’ll reap. You can walk away from the competition at any time, but once you begin the arena you cannot change your deck. Therefore, it’s important to be set up before you go. It’s like the Elite Four in Pokemon; you best be prepared if you plan to become a Champion.
I decided not to waste time and entered the icy arena with the default Orc Champion deck. I thought: “Let’s see how tough this arena is with basic cards.” In my first match, I was up against a GobbleGlade Witch. I failed to draw enough resources to play the cards in my hand. I lost. But losing one match isn't enough to get you thrown out of the arena. You must lose three times before they slide you out. You can also save and quit at any time to recuperate.
One aspect I particularly like about the arena is that Hogarth adds new elements to matches. When I was facing a S.P.A.M. bot, he placed six random traps in both of our decks and challenged us to win regardless taunting, “I want to see you get angry.” I managed to beat the robot out of sheer luck and received a Gold Pouch. Because I managed to meet Hogarth's challenge, he removed my previous loss from my record, setting me back to 0. These little touches make for an interactive experience that invite you to continue playing.
Against my better judgment I entered the Proving Grounds to verse another player—hopefully a player whose deck is still fresh like my own. Players queue up to show their willingness to challenge. You accept their challenge and then proceed to wait while a timer clicks down. If they don’t accept instantly, then they’re more then likely AFK. A lesson I learned while watching the clock rise to sixty seconds twice in a row.
I versed a player whose champion was Running Deer. They slaughtered me like an eighteen-wheeler. Their strategy involved raising their health while also increasing the resource cost of my cards, and also burying my cards to the graveyard. It was a three-prong attack I could do nothing against but watch my slow defeat. Rather than attacking my health, directly they attacked my deck. It was a style of play I hadn't considered and gave me a glimpse of the depths of playstyles available in Hex.
Hex has two in-game currencies: platinum and gold. Platinum can be traded in for booster packs that add cards to your deck. There’s a “Buy Platinum” button on the bottom left-hand side of the store. Each pack also contains a chest that can be upgraded or opened for additional items. It’s $5 for 500 platinum, and starter packs cost 1000 platinum. To play competitively, you’ll have to fork over some cash. Otherwise, you’ll be grinding through the Frost Ring Arena to purchase new cards with gold. You can use Gold to spin the Wheels of Fate and purchase cards in the Auction House and Shop.
You can unlock every card in the game without injecting any cash into the game. It will require some patience. You’re meant to play the Arena repeatedly, learning from your mistakes and picking up new common cards along the way. There are players who speed rush the arena for gold but I would wait until you’ve become tired of it before succumbing to farming.
Final Verdict - Great
Hex: Shards of Fate is a great digital trading card game. It’s easy to learn, with a simple interface and smooth animations that maintain the atmosphere of an actual card game. Without buying starter decks, the PvE arena is a challenging, but rewarding, way to learn the game’s mechanics and expand your library. A robust community helped this game see funding on Kickstarter and those dedicated members will destroy you in PvP. Nevertheless, it’s a fun experience, even for players who prefer to look at the card's art than build their deck.
Operating System: Windows XP 32 bit
CPU: Pentium D 805 2.67GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3600+
RAM: 2 GB GB RAM
Video Card: GeForce 6800 GT or Radeon X1600 Pro 512MB
Hard Disk Space: 3 GB Free Space
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5000+
RAM: 4 GB RAM
Video Card: GeForce 8800 GT or Radeon HD 4850
Hard Disk Space: 3 GB Free Space
Hex is Mac OS X compatible.
Hex Additional Information
Developer(s): Cryptozoic Entertainment
Publisher(s): Hex Entertainment, Gameforge
Language(s): English, German, French
Announcement Date: May 09, 2013
Closed Alpha: October 8, 2013
Closed Beta: April 01, 2014
Open Beta: April 11, 2014
Other Platforms: OS X
Hex: Shards of Fate is developed by American video-game company Cryptozoic Entertainment, the same company that created the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. The game is published by Hex Entertainment and Gameforge. Funding for the game was obtained through Kickstarter, and at the time of funding it was the 11th most-funded video game on the crowdfunding website. Nearly 18,000 people raised over $2 million for Hex: Shards of Fate. Wizards of the Coast filed a lawsuit against Cryptozoic on May 14, 2014, citing infringement of intellectual property. Cryptozoic responded by saying they “do not find any merit to the allegations in the complaint.” Publisher Gameforge has also released the popular games Elsword, Tera, and Wizard101.