Blockchain and card games walk hand in hand. Being able to fully own your digital cards is a genuinely valuable addition to digital trading card games. It adds a whole new dimension, because gamers are no longer tied to the terms & conditions of the card issuing company. They can trade their cards for money and make a profit, if they like.
If you’re looking to invest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), digital trading cards are a particularly interesting asset class. If the trading card game is fun to play and well-balanced, there’s a good chance it’ll attract a growing group of followers interested in buying your more valuable cards. If you’re lucky and the game goes viral, you might fetch a serious return on your investment.
It’s one of the reasons why I’m excited to review Gods Unchained: all the cards I buy or earn in-game are ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Some of those cards could be worth a good bit of money when the game officially launches at the end of this year. To give you an idea: someone bid 146.279 ETH on Hyperion, the Mythic Titan of Light, over $60,000 at the Ethereum price back then. It even became the most valuable trading card ever sold worldwide for a while, before a Magic: The Gathering card went on to sell for $87,000.
You know you’re in big boy territory when you’re competing with the number one trading card game ever. Luckily, Gods Unchained oozes quality from beginning to end. This is an amazing game and I’m still baffled that it’s a blockchain game (and that I hadn’t reviewed it yet). Granted, I’m a sucker for trading card games, but even a glance at their website should convince most people that this is a game with very high production values.
The Setup and the Platform
Signing into Gods Unchained requires you to create an account on their website and link your account to MetaMask. It’s a simple process that requires only a few clicks. Immediately afterward, you receive several card packs for free, which all open in a beautifully animated way. Each pack holds five core cards and will help you build your first deck. That’s right, Gods Unchained is free to play. There’s no need to spend any money buying cards; you can dive right in with the core cards that the game gives you upfront.
Gods Unchained can’t be played in the browser. Instead, you’ll need to download their platform Apollo, which I understand can also serve as a platform for other decentralized games. The platform, just like the website, looks gorgeous and allows you to build your deck and find other players to fight against (both of which you cannot do on their website).
Once you’ve found an opponent, Apollo will launch a full-screen client that loads the environment where you’ll fight. This game client runs okay but not great on my Surface laptop (i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM) on the lowest settings. Thankfully, the game is still in public beta and its developers are actively working on improving Apollo’s performance (30% less VRAM since July 10), so I’m confident Gods Unchained will eventually run smoothly on slow and relatively old machines like mine.
Before we dive into the actual gameplay of Gods Unchained, I want to talk about buying cards. While the game gives you enough cards to get started, there’s a compelling reason to buy at least a few packs through the game’s website: the game is holding its Genesis Sale, selling first edition cards before the game’s official release. This sale contains 380 unique cards and will stop when the game has reached $15 million in sales. Once the sale ends, they’ll be removed from the card packs and you’ll only ever be able to buy a genesis card through another player.
There are four types of Genesis card packs you can purchase: Rare (0.012 ETH), Epic (0.075 ETH), Legendary (0.112 ETH), and Shiny Legendary (1 ETH). As you can see, Gods Unchained isn’t prohibitively expensive. The Rare and Epic card packs only cost a few dollars each. Legendary and Shiny Legendary packs cost more, but you might be able to sell a few of the more valuable cards in those packs for much more than you originally bought them for. Each type of pack will have at least one card of the corresponding rarity (e.g. a Legendary pack will have at least one Legendary card).
Currently, you can only pay for these packs with Ethereum, but Fuel Games, the studio behind Gods Unchained, is planning to integrate credit card payment, which is likely to speed up their Genesis Sale even more.
Creating a Deck
When I first started playing Gods Unchained, I had no clue what I was doing. This is inevitable when you have no idea about the power of individual cards and their abilities. Creating a deck of 30 cards from my collection of around seventy cards felt intimidating. Thankfully, Gods Unchained gives you six separate starter decks that you can play with. No need to create your own, custom deck.
Each starter deck is tied to one of the six Gods in Gods Unchained. Each God has different powers and is better suited for a particular way of playing. Auros, the God of War, and Malissus, the Goddess of Death, are better suited for aggressive card decks, which want to damage the opponent as much as possible and as soon as possible. Thaeriel, the God of Light, and Aeona, the Goddess of Nature, are better suited for controlling the game board. Ludia, the Goddess of Deception, and Elyrian, the God of Magic, are best suited for devastating card combinations to damage the opponent.
However, if you decide to create your own deck, you need to think of the Mana Curve and Card Synergy. Following the Mana Curve means that you have cheap mana cards, mid-tiered mana cards, and expensive mana cards, so you’ll be able to stand your ground in the early, middle, and late stages of the game.
Card Synergy means that you need to take into account which cards work well together. Most cards have abilities that enhance other cards in one way or the other. Combining such cards can make for powerful combinations that deal your opponent a lot of damage. This is particularly relevant for card decks tied to the Goddess of Deception and the God of Magic.
Playing Gods Unchained
A game of Gods Unchained is as fun as any other AAA digital card trading game. Firstly, the playing board and the animations look beautiful. Secondly, it’s quite intuitive. There’s no big learning curve to understand the mechanics of the game. Thirdly, it’s exciting. Each player has a limited amount of time to make their move. You need to be fairly fast, which is good, because you wouldn’t want to wait two minutes for the other player to make their move.
As you can imagine, the number of cards, the different Gods with their different powers, and the possible decks you can create from your cards make for a game that’s never the same. There’s an incredible amount of depth in Gods Unchained. Every single game I’ve played so far, I’ve been surprised by some of the moves of other players. And, considering I’m not yet fully familiar with my own cards, they still surprise me too.
For example, there was one instance where I was losing badly. I had one card on the field and my opponent had five, stronger cards on their field, two of which had the frontline ability, which means I had to attack those cards instead of my opponent directly. However, I drew this one card that allowed me to wipe all cards from the deck and place them back into each player’s hand at a reduced cost of 2 mana. I didn’t know of the existence of this card, but it altered the balance of the game and allowed me to survive for a bit longer (until I ultimately lost anyway. I’m still a noob).
Playing ranked games gives you experience points that help you level up. Each new level gives you a card pack, which is a great way to thicken your card collection. You gain experience points even when you lose (trust me) so you’ll feel like you’re making progress after every game, regardless of the outcome.
Although I admittedly haven’t played hundreds of games yet, I feel like Gods Unchained is already nicely balanced. Additionally, Fuel Games published a blog post early July saying that they’ll dedicate themselves to balancing cards over the next few months. On a weekly basis, the developers are tweaking cards and their abilities to make sure the game is impeccably balanced when it launches at the end of 2019.
The Gods Unchained Tournament
As befits any good card trading game, Gods Unchained will have a World Tournament too. The first World Tournament will take place in Q4 2019 or early 2020. The prize pool is composed of $100,000 seeded from Fuel Games and 10% of all the Gods Unchained card pack sales. As of today, the prize pool is close to $440,000. Their goal is to reach a prize pool of $1.6 million.
That’s bananas. Consider that we’re talking about the very first tournament of a blockchain game. The first world tournament of Artifact, the trading card game created by Valve, only has a prize pool of $1 million. And we’re talking Valve, the legendary gaming company behind the Half-Life series and Dota. Here’s Gods Unchained, a blockchain game created by a relatively unknown company, possibly beating out Valve in prize money.
Unfortunately, entering the Gods Unchained tournament isn’t so easy. You had to buy one of the 20,000 tickets, all of which have been sold out since July 2018. The only way to get a ticket is to buy one off of another player, and I can’t imagine that’s going to be cheap. I wish there’d been a way for the best-ranked players in Gods Unchained to earn a ticket too, which would be enough incentive (at least for me) to purchase more cards and play the game.
Regardless, the prize pool is another sign of the inevitability of both video games and blockchain technology. There’s money to be made for those who dedicate themselves to games like Gods Unchained. Becoming a pro gamer is increasingly becoming a viable alternative for everyone. Owning digital assets to diversify your investment portfolio is as well.
Bigger and Better
Gods Unchained is not a perfect game. It’s a bit sluggish on my machine, there are still bugs in the game and on the website, and I’m sure cards need to be better tweaked and balanced. But it’s July and the game’s official launch is still many months away. The developers are extremely active on all social media channels, listening to their vibrant, healthy community on Discord and working hard to improve their game.
This game has me excited. I haven’t really gone into any depth on the game mechanics or the small details that make Gods Unchained shine, but this, to me, is the first decentralized game with superstar qualities. People will want to play Gods Unchained regardless of the fact that it runs on blockchain technology, and that’s exactly how blockchain technology will reach a mainstream audience.
Whether you’re an investor looking to spend money on NFTs, a card trading enthusiast, or an early DGame enthusiast, I highly encourage you to try out Gods Unchained. I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed. Do we have the next viral DGame?