I tried unsuccessfully, all weekend, to come up with a way of saying “we are in a golden age of electronic gaming” without sounding dumb. I eventually gave up, for two reasons. One, if I’m saying what I believe, I don’t care what people think of it. And two, it’s true, which is always a good reason to say something.
We have said that Gabriel’s primary motivation for playing games is to be exposed to new art, and in the same way I want to exposed to new mechanics - that is to say, I want to be made to think in a new way. I’m sure that’s the end result for him as well, you just gotta get to each of us via a different route. So, if that’s my motivation, there’s never been a better time - because a nontrivial volume of the games available now cost nothing but time.
I don’t have a lot of that, but learning is so encouraged biochemically that I will always invest it thus. The Age of the Game as a Service is especially amenable to collectible card games, and I’ve had a sequence of torrid affairs with the genre online and also backed a few nascent offerings. Never having been a serious Everquest player, I was surprised at the extent to which I lost my shit for Legends of Norrath, which is just a whip-smart manifestation of everything they’d learned in their other outings.
I had a Tekken Card Battle phase, technically I’m still having that, as it’s my go-to whenever I’m forced to be somewhere I’d rather not. It’s Super Rock Paper Scissors essentially, or maybe Rock Paper Scissors: Alpha 3, with fun push-your-luck headgames. That’s not the new shit, though. Duel of Champions is the new shit.
Culminating all today’s “lane combat” trends with the breadth of deckbuilding you find in more traditional games of this type, it also throws in unit movement as a basic ability for a more tabletop tactics feel. Front and back lines with discrete shooting and melee round it out. Turns in this type of play are generally very rigid in structure, with actions confined to their proper celestial cycle. Here, it… isn’t. And that’s where the learning, the brain fire, burns hot. This game, or the game I’m choosing to play amid the superset of possible ways, locks up profound potential in Order of Operations. I feel like a clock tower when I play it. The spine goes down, that is the root, and my head is a mesh of wholly custom notions I have made for this purpose.
Holy fucking shit is it good. It’s too good. And in a very real way, no: it doesn’t exist. They apparently don’t trust their game enough to let players trade cards, no doubt fearing the effect it would have on the game as a business entity. Perhaps they’re afraid the trap doesn’t have sufficient bait. But their trap is the bait - that’s how good. And one day it will go away.
Games like this do evaporate, eventually. You’ve got to be selective, to make sure you’re coming out on top of these deals. It’s a matter of what you’re paying for, I guess. When I pay for a free game, I’m paying to support the clever people who made it, and to gild my leisure hours. I’m paying for new mental machinery. No matter what happens, these things are retained.