Confrontation is a new Web-based card game from Userjoy that has recently launched on Facebook. The game is currently highlighted in the featured spot of Facebook’s App Center front page.
Confrontation is a fairly straightforward card-battling game in which players collect cards and then use them to battle decks from either computer- or human-controlled opponents. There is an unfolding story to follow, but the focus is very much on battling and collecting cards rather than providing a deep narrative-centric experience.
The game begins with a hasty tutorial that forces players to begin collecting one particular type of card without giving them the option to try anything else, then throws them into battle. After explaining what the icons on the cards mean and giving the player their first experience of battle, the tutorial ends and the player is thrown into the game proper. Unfortunately, this means that the game has only explained a tiny proportion of its rather cluttered and overcomplicated interface, meaning that players are largely left to determine what they are supposed to be doing by themselves.
The actual “card game” aspect of Confrontation unfolds completely automatically. Each card has a number in the corner which determines how many turns before it enters the battlefield. When it enters the battlefield, it will either attack the enemy player directly if there is nothing opposite it, or attack an opposing card. Different cards have different attack and health ratings, and their attributes may be supported by the use of one spell and one artifact card per deck. Each card also has special abilities that are triggered automatically — some might counterattack when they take damage, others might have a high chance of dodging or inflicting status effects such as poison on opposing cards. There’s obviously a reasonable amount of thought that has gone into designing the cards and their various statistics, but given that the battle unfolds without any interaction from the player whatsoever (and can even be skipped altogether in exchange for hard currency) it’s difficult to feel any real sense of “attachment” to a particular deck — it’s little more than a numbers game, where putting down cards with higher numbers is almost always a sure-fire route to success. There’s no real strategy and no real feeling of battling against another player — it’s little more than the non-interactive battle sequences from mobile card battle games like Rage of Bahamut and its ilk.
Between battles, players have the opportunity to edit and create their decks. Each deck must be based around a particular faction and feature a “hero” card along with a spell and artifact card plus up to six unit cards. The player may have several different decks built at any one time, and in fact some battles require the player to use more than one deck. There is also a “Fortress Army” mode in which the player may assign several of their decks to defend themselves from barbarian invasions which occur at regular intervals. If the deck successfully protects against the invading army, the player receives rewards and has the opportunity to pursue them for additional rewards — though the battle that results from a pursuit is usually against stronger cards.
Players may also “evolve” their cards by fusing them together. The resulting card often doesn’t have anything to do with the cards used as materials, and instead appears to be a randomly-drawn new card of a rarity value determined by the materials put in. Cards are lost by “evolving” them, too, so if the resulting card is undesirable, the materials must be reacquired through alternative means. Additional cards may be obtained as rewards for completing story battles and through a daily “slot machine” bonus game. They may also be purchased in the store — some booster packs are available for soft currency, but the vast majority that contain rarer cards require the expenditure of hard currency.
Confrontation is quite well presented, with good artwork and stirring background music that features a number of different tracks according to what the player is doing. However, the presentation is somewhat spoiled by the near-constant popups informing the player that other Confrontation players have won battles or acquired cards through the daily bonus game. These really don’t need to be popping up constantly, and there doesn’t appear to be a way to turn them off.
A more serious issue than the irritating popup messages, however, is the fact that the game simply isn’t very fun. By taking away the interactivity and strategy aspect of competing against an opponent, the game significantly misses a big part of the reason why many people play physical card games such as Magic: The Gathering and its ilk — they’re not just about collecting cards, they’re also about beating an opponent with your skill and intelligence. While Confrontation’s asynchronous approach (which is nothing unusual for mobile and social card battle games) means that players will always have someone to fight against regardless of who is online, it does leave the game experience feeling rather hollow and lifeless.
Ultimately, Confrontation is following a proven formula for online card battle titles and is likely to enjoy some success as a result. However, we’ve been seeing this type of barely-interactive card battle game for some time on both mobile platforms and the Web now — it’s surely time that the genre moved forward and made an attempt to offer a deeper, more interactive, more strategic experience.
Confrontation currently occupies the 50,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 3,240, and the 10,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 2,260. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Another online card-battler that somewhat misses the point of why people play physical versions of these games.