Scrolls Beta Impressions

Mojang doesn’t just do Minecraft anymore, they’re expanding. And they’re expanding into a much different genre with their new game Scrolls. Scrolls, which is currently in beta, is a strategy game that combines the classic card and board game genres into one, MMO-style video game.

The card game itself is fairly basic, and people who play non virtual card games like Magic the Gathering are going to find its rules and cards quiet simple. The game is divided into three different factions which use different resources: energy (red cards), order (blue cards), and growth (green cards). Each faction has a unique set of creatures, spells, enchantments, and structures.

But then you get to the board game part of Scrolls, which adds a whole other level of strategy. Playing cards on a battlemap incorporates the simple card game idea into a more complex strategy board game. The combination of the two results in a unique Scrolls experience. The game keeps the concepts and rules basic, but allows players to find powerful combinations and strategies. It’s one of those games that’s easy to learn, but difficult to master.

After playing the Scrolls beta the last couple of weeks I’m now familiar with the majority of cards available. It’ll be interesting to see what new card additions Mojang adds to the game. Adding new cards and rules will be a balancing act as the game grows through its beta into the final release. The game so far is fun and diverse enough to play, but because it’s so fun I’m ready to see some new cards!

The game is meant to be a sort of an MMO experience, where players can battle each other’s self-made decks in ranked matches, or matches just for fun and gold. But the Scrolls beta also has single player options that allow players to learn and practice against AI.

I was a little disappointed to see that Mojang has jumped on the microtransactions bandwagon. Shards, which were introduced in Scroll’s alpha, are a way for players to use real life money to buy in-game rewards. I can’t say I’m surprised that Mojang has implemented this kind of system; it seems like every game these days has some kind of similar system. For some reason I thought Mojang was above nickel and diming it’s loyal fan base, that’s all.

Despite the microtransaction system, the time I spent playing the Scrolls beta was quite enjoyable. Still, it’s no Minecraft, and unlike Mojang’s sandbox building game, I’m finding myself getting tired of Scrolls much faster. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but it’s a much more specific game. Of course you’re going to get tired of playing the same game over and over again; it’s to be expected.

In an effort to mix up the gameplay a little bit, and provide players with a little gameplay twist, Scrolls has challenges called Trials. These Trials are single player game modes that shift the rules a little bit, give your opponent an advantage, or change the winning conditions. It’s a nice way to mix the repetitive gameplay up, and I hope that the Scrolls beta continues to add new and diverse challenges to the Trials section.

It will be interesting to see how the Scrolls beta grows and develops into a fully launched game. So far it’s definitely worth looking into, and totally worth the $20 to jump into the Scrolls beta experience. Mojang went out on a limb and created an entirely new gameplay experience compared to their super successful Minecraft, and the result is an awesome game. So check it out, and see you in-game!