When SolForge, the CCG co-designed by Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield, shut down in 2017, Stone Blade Entertainment CEO Justin Gary offered fans a sliver of hope. While the studio “bit off more than we could chew” with SolForge, he said, the lessons the developers had learned would be valuable in “future incarnations of SolForge.” Five years later, the next generation of SolForge is just about ready. Dubbed SolForge: Fusion, it’s a “first of its kind hybrid deck building game for the digital age,” and it’ll be available September 22.
SolForge: Fusion is designed to be played either in person or digitally, using Tabletop Simulator. What sets SolForge: Fusion apart from other CCGs is a special “algorithmically generated card printing process” that ensures no two decks are the same, similar to KeyForge, which Garfield designed for Fantasy Flight Games. Players ‘fuse’ two half-decks to create a full deck, and scan them into SolForge: Fusion’s online database. The fused cards level up over the course of each game, allowing players to continuously ‘build’ their decks even in the midst of a match.
“Combining two procedurally generated half-decks gives an easy way to customise your deck, and wildly expands the possibilities of a collection,” Garfield says. “And creating cards by fusing two halves together gives over 15,000 possible cards in the first set alone, more than were created in the first 20+ years of Magic: The Gathering.”
Stone Blade has created a series of introductory videos to explain how SolForge: Fusion is played. For the videos, everything takes place inside Tabletop Simulator.
You’ll be able to buy a deck of SolForge: Fusion cards at a game shop, then scan its unique QR code using your mobile device’s camera to upload the entire deck to your collection stored on SolForge: Fusion’s official site.
Following the runaway success of Magic: the Gathering, Garfield has been intent on somehow bridging the gap between physical collectible cards and digital games. That was the intent behind Artifact – a digital CCG like Hearthstone, but using cards that were more ‘real’ by being tradeable on the Steam marketplace. Players baulked at the model, however, and Artifact also suffered from a visual complexity that made it intimidating to newcomers.
Time will tell if this new approach fares better. SolForge: Fusion is an easier game to learn, but features some similar mechanics to Artifact. Rather than using a digital marketplace, this time it’s a return to physical cards, with the ‘bridge’ to digital play found in the off-the-shelf solution of Tabletop Simulator. The question for users who prefer to play online will be whether the experience in Tabletop Simulator will be a smooth one.
You can find out more at the official site. SolForge: Fusion will go on sale in the US September 22.