Whilst at AmeCon 2018, I went to the traditional games room quite frequently, to play a spot of Magic: the Gathering. On the Sunday of the event, I noticed there was a new stall in the room for a game called Lightseekers, which they had practice games going for. Throughout the day, I would walk up to it, inspect it and consider whether or not it was worth picking up. The sales people were friendly, albeit persistant. So, after some talking from both the sales person and from Jake, I finally decided that I’d go ahead and throw £40 their way for two of their decks, along with two play mats, two booster packs AND two metal life tokens – Not bad! But how does it play?
Lightseekers started life as a Kickstarter campaign, which managed to get backed, earning them $227,660. That was quite an investment, but the original concept from Kickstarter has implemented and has been executed really well. I had noticed Lightseekers appearing on YouTube adverts for me recently, as well as Twitch, so I was fairly confident I had seen it before. Once I threw my wallet at them, we were told that the cards were also playable via a mobile app, which is available on both iOS and Android for free. Interestingly, the cards I had purchased could be scanned into the game, to put them into the game for free. This, to me, was amazing… Although, I won’t lie, I’ve not been able to get it to work properly on my phone (it scans them, it recognises the cards, but doesn’t add it to my library). I’ve seen it work for Jake however, so I know it works – It could just be my phone playing up. I’ll have to give it another try at some point. We’ll discuss the app again later.
The game came rather well packaged, the boxes were somewhat non-descript however. They explained what the deck was supposed to do, at least in terms of flavour, but not what the game actually was all about. When I approached the stand, I was reading over one of the boxes when the people who were running the games quickly approached me to explain more. It looked interesting, it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t sure if I was willing to invest – At the time, I hadn’t remembered what made this game unique. So, I stood by the people playing a game and decided to have a watch. The game was made to look incredibly easy, which, I can confirm is indeed the case. It’s nice and easy to pick up and play for first timers and experts alike, with a relatively smooth learning curve. Overall, it looked like a win-win, because in the worst case scenario, we’ve got some more play mats.
Each player has a deck of 35 cards and one hero, making 36 in total. Five of those cards are known as combo cards and the rest of the deck can be made up of anything you want, so long as you follow the elements of your hero (or any item you put into the deck). Items can grant you access to additional elements, however it is a bit of a risk trying to get an item to give you access to an element that isn’t one your hero already uses. There’s a bit of risk-reward involved with building a deck, which isn’t too complex. There is no “land” or “mana” or “energy” in this game, as you can play any card you are allowed access to, so long as it’s not a combo card. There is a limit of 2 actions per turn, including 1 use of your heroes action, or 1 combo per turn. Any actions you don’t take can lead to you drawing cards equal to the number of actions you’ve got left.
You start the game by having the first player drawing 4 cards and the second drawing 5. There is no hand limit in the game and you don’t lose by drawing all the cards in your deck (indeed, you only lose if you have no playable cards left in this effect). The real aim of the game is to deplete the opponents heroes life total to 0. The game has no real “counters” or anything a more complex game like Magic: the Gathering has, however it’s fair to say that the game does indeed feel incredibly balanced throughout, except for the addition of rarer heroes vs more common heroes – I’ll explain my thoughts on that later.
By having one of the playmats, you have access to your life tracker. You cannot exceed 35 life. Some heroes start with 35 life, some start with 28 – It depends entirely on what hero you have to what life you start with. Once you’ve drawn your cards, the first player can decide what to do – They can play a normal card which belongs to one of the elements your hero can control (Which is explained by the icons underneath the heroes picture). A character can either have basic control over an element, with a silver border around it, or superior control, where they can use as many of that element as they’d like within the term (following other restrictions of the game, including the limit on actions previously mentioned).
Normal cards can be played as an action, but combo cards mean you must put your normal cards back into your deck to pay for their cost. This is associated by the icons at the top of the card. They also immediately end your turn, however you get to draw a card and you usually get massive benefit out of playing combo cards. It’s all about timing between when to use your combos and when to just use normal cards.
Augmented Reality & Technology
Okay, so whilst it hasn’t worked for me yet, I’ve seen this work and it’s kind of incredible. You place a card down, hover your camera over the card and let it scan your card in. This is then added to your collection of cards in the digital form. This is incredible technology for a relatively fledgling card game, so a huge amount of credit for the work behind this. Furthermore, the app itself is incredibly smooth if you’re going to use the digital version of the game. If you’re going to do that, then add me for a game!
Add the user “#HZM-RRZ-GP” to play some games against me!
Right, enough plugging playing games with me, back to the rest of my opinions.
Rarer Heroes and Balancing
This is my personal thought having played a number of games on the app, but it also doesn’t put me off the game by any stretch of the imagination. I played a game against one guy, who managed to stall the game completely. He drew all of his cards out of his deck and into his hand – Which with what was left, was about 20 cards. He had done everything to just stall the game to his speed and when he had 0 cards left in his deck, every single attack of his was hitting for its damage + 5. It wasn’t hard for him, either. No matter how many times I cast a buff, or played some damage, he had an argument for it. You’ve got a buff? No problem, remove that buff. You’re going to damage me? No problem, here’s damage reduction and healing. It was not a fair match-up. This was during the app and further to that, it was for me to gain a position in the ranked mode, but it admittedly made me feel incredibly powerless. I didn’t want a rematch, as I’d have been made a chump out of again.
As such, the rarer cards do indeed feel like they’re worth it, often having somewhat of an advantage; that is going to cost you money, whether that’s the physical or the digital version of the game. Remember this if you’re thinking about taking the game up. The starter decks, meanwhile, are beautifully balanced. I don’t think it’s unfair to have these rarer cards be more worthwhile, it’s just strange that the powers of the heroes could be a little bit misbalanced there, but that’s down to you to build your deck accordingly.
So rare to find a completely unique mechanic within a genre, other than the technology used, the game utilises a strange turning mechanic as mentioned in the gameplay section. It’s pretty straight forward – All “buff” cards move clockwise, until you have turned until there’s no icon on the top left corner, or when you’ve turned it four times (without some form of reset). It’s a unique mechanic, so I genuinely find it interesting. Furthermore, it’s nice how the game focuses more on direct life manipulation, rather than card countering and the likes.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed Lightseekers and fully intend to play more of it. Do go and check out the app and challenge me to a game at some point! Would you pick up lightseekers, or would you stick to Magic: the Gathering, or Pokemon, YuGiOh or other TCGs? Let us know all of your thoughts of Lightseekers, especially if you try the free app, in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.