RWBY Deckbuilding Game Review
RWBY has had a fair amount of games come out over the last year or so: Amity Arena (mobile), Combat Ready (a physical board game), Grimm Eclipse, and now this digital deckbuilder on PC and mobile, called simply RWBY Deckbuilding Game. Deckbuilders vary greatly from their Collectible Card Game (CCG) counterparts, in that you don’t have to chase cards. Deckbuilders have all the cards required to play and have no further booster packs to purchase unless they release an expansion (which is not altogether uncommon). However, there are cards to hunt down in the PVE modes which can be purchased, but I’ll get into that soon. The ultimate goal is to defeat all of the bosses in a match and have the highest power total (indicated by a star with a number in it). What makes RWBY’s deckbuilder different is that it’s a free-to-play game. This means the monetization will not be able to come from buying booster packs or decks, but cosmetics and things of that nature. So before I get into the nitty gritty of the game, let’s discuss money.
I did spend money on RWBY: Deckbuilding Game because in order to play the other modes, you have to have purchased them, which can only be bought with Lien (Real-Money Currency). You can buy the raids separately (at 100 Lien apiece), and the Relic Adventure or you can buy them together in a bundle for 900 Lien. This comes to about 10 bucks in real money. Then there’s the Relic Adventure, which I had to buy, that also requires 100 Dust a playthrough, which you gain from playing the game normally. I think this would not feel so disappointing if I didn’t spend real money, then on top of that, have to grind out another currency for this Relic Adventure mode. Relic Adventure is an optional mode where you can chase cards and unlock Relic Framed versions of your cards. I feel though if you have to spend real money to unlock a mode, let players challenge it as much as they like, or perhaps x amount of times per day, instead of a secondary, unnecessary resource. You can, of course, buy this Dust for Lien at a reasonable amount, which will help you unlock content faster.
Cosmetics cost a lot of dust, but you can buy piles of it for cheap if you want to unlock stuff fast.
You can also purchase additional Save Slots (the base game comes with one, you can upgrade to 4 for 100 Lien), for when you need to come back to a game later. These matches can drag on sometimes, so it’s at least nice to know that you can save them. Next up is Card Backs – these are always fun to collect because it’s nice to be able to customize what the back of your cards look like, as you’ll be seeing them a lot in the form of your draw pile. These card backs are 2000 Dust. There’s also the battle boards, which customizes the field you see when you’re playing. These come in at a whopping 5,000 Dust. You can buy the Dust with Lien, with the smallest bundle being 10,000 Dust for 100 Lien. This is a reasonable price to start unlocking cosmetics faster, and in no way makes your gameplay better. But it does make it cuter, which is what counts.
You have several options for game modes, should you purchase them all. First is Quick Play, where you can play against the AI or other players. I will say that the queue times, now that the game has launched, are very swift. You can also find games that other people are playing to join in on. However, there seems to be no friend list, or way to challenge players directly, so friends as of this moment have no choice but to make a lobby, tell them and hope for the best. I’m sure that will change in the future. Then there’s Relic Adventure, which we discussed previously. Defeating Bosses in Relic Adventure can net rewards such as Relic Frames for your cards. This costs 100 Dust a playthrough. There are also Bounties (Quests) to go along with it, where getting to the end will net you a Relic Frame. This also goes for Quick Match, where you can unlock Card Sleeves and other rewards. This can be found in the scroll icon in the top right of the screen.
Finally, there are raids, where you can team up with other players to do battle in boss fights with specific requirements for winning. Completing these three times unlocks one of 12 reward cards. These cards are the only ones not available in the main deck, but once you unlock them here, they’re usable in regular play. You can also unlock the Relic Frame versions. You can set these Raids where other players can join, or you can spend 25 dust to invite Mercenaries (NPCs) to help you through. The wait times for raids were horrid, unlike Quick Mode, so I had to invite Mercenaries to aid me. The only things really to chase other than cosmetics are the cards in the raid. Thankfully, the NPC AI is pretty smart, and plays the game efficiently. The cards unlocked in these extra modes are not required to play, but it does at least give you something to chase besides cosmetics.
Each player starts the game with 10 cards: five in hand, and five in deck. These cards are your characters, two unique traits, and a mixture of the common Doubt/Courage/Valor cards. These generic cards are a source of Power for your character, and you can spend two energy to increase Doubt to Courage and then 3 energy to turn Courage into Valor. Doubt can actually be lowered to “Wound”, which instead of giving a positive, lowers your Power by 1, and other cards can also give you Wound Cards, so you should be aware of this. There are cards you can acquire to lower that cost permanently over the course of a match though. Your hand is in the bottom center, and the cards you can buy for your deck are in the top middle. Between that is an empty bar where you drag the cards you’re going to play. In all honesty, that’s going to consist of hitting “Play All” and activating triggers for cards as needed. In most cases, it’s not worth not playing a card, because it just goes to your Discard Pile (unless it’s a Wound or something else that might penalize you). Above the Purchase Bar, you’ll see a circle with purple energy flowing toward it. At the end of a turn, if that card isn’t purchased, it heads to the destroyed pile, where it stays for the rest of the game. The deck those purchase cards come from begins at 101, so you will no doubt have plenty of cards to finish a match.
There are lots of card “types” but they all pretty much have a uniform style to them. There are Character, Hero, Equipment, Action, Defense/Equipment-Defense, Starter, Location, Villain and Boss cards. Each card that can add to your overall energy score for a turn has a hexagon in the middle left (to align with the hexagon on the screen towards the top left). Below that is a star with a number in it. This is how many Power Points you receive for buying the card. Basic – Starter cards provide 0 since they are never purchased. The bottom right number is the purchase cost of the card. You’ll spend your energy on that, or on the Upgrade cost for a card you already own. To the left of the Purchase Bar is the deck itself (with a number that starts at 101), and to the immediate right of the bar is the current Boss. The Star Number indicates how much Power you need to deal with them. The Circle Number is how many bosses are left, and the final number is the cost to purchase that boss (thus defeating it) and adding it to your deck.
– Draw 5 Cards
– Play Cards and Respond to Instructions on them as needed
– Purchase Cards (put in Discard Pile to be recycled into the deck)
– Defeat/Purchase Boss if applicable (put in Discard Pile to be recycled into the deck)
– Battle (if applicable)
– Discard Hand
– Draw New Hand for next turn
RWBY Deck Builder has a decent amount of strategy and tactics, and there are various ways to approach each match. All the heroes have different trait cards, and you’re given one of two to pick from for a match. In the early game, you spend a lot of time trying to decide how to spend your time – do you level up your Basic Starter cards early so you have more purchasing power towards the mid-game? This is an acceptable strategy, but risky. The other players can get luckier drawn cards to purchase (a new card hits the row every turn), so RNG does factor into this game a great deal. The bosses give a lot of Power when you purchase one, and their abilities can really shake the game up. The more of them you have in your deck, the better a match can go for you. This makes card drawing abilities insanely powerful, as one might expect.
If you purchase villain cards, you can play them, to send them out to fight other players. You can pick which other player they fight, and if they don’t have a Defense Card, they’ll receive a Wound Card. The turns move very fast though, and it might not always be clear what someone is doing. There is a log of turns/actions, thankfully. It’s even less clear in a Raid because the NPCs take their turns so fast. The more you play the game, the less strategy and innovation I think could potentially come from your games, as you’ll learn the cards better and things could ultimately become more predictable, at least versus NPCs. I do think this would be a fun game to play with friends to tackle the raid bosses and see who can build the best deck and be a fun online party game. The notion that you don’t have to spend tons of money buying decks is very appealing, and it’s a franchise that is popular, so it’s an easy fit to pair them together.
It’s a Grimm Look: 3/5 (Good)
Ultimately I think RWBY Deckbuilding Game is interesting. I love deckbuilders, and the concept behind them appeals to me – not having to spend tons of money to enjoy a tactical, fun card game with my friends. Any game that has a tutorial that leads you to the cash shop makes me wary. The Raids are cheap though, but I do wish they would do away with the Dust as a cost for a game mode. Despite having a tutorial, it was not as clear as I’d like, and you’ll learn better simply by playing the game, reading the match logs to see what’s going on, and simply losing a few times. I’m curious to see where RWBY Deckbuilding goes in terms of content. Will we see expansions, and if so, will they cost money? Will they add more cards to the game? The gameplay itself is fairly simple, once you learn what all the spots on the board are for, and what potential the cards have.
The only cards you can chase require you to buy in and then grind the extra modes. Right now “it’s fun but –” It’s fun but you have to purchase the extra game modes outside of quick play. It’s fun but you need to win three raids for a card. It shows a lot of promise, and it’s a concept I can really sink my teeth into. But there are flaws. PVP is kind of a mess right now – players can just abandon matches and you’ll have no way of knowing. Their timer will run down, nothing will happen, and you just get to sit there. I waited 15 minutes for a turn in a match because I was finally winning, only to come to the conclusion that the other players just left. You also can’t communicate with other players, which goes hand-in-hand with this problem. Between this, and the tutorial not adequately explaining that there are cards hidden behind the PVE modes, there’s still some work that needs doing on RWBY Deckbuilding Game. It’s certainly a fun time if you love RWBY and have a few friends to make a custom match with, because there’s no guarantee your PVP won’t also have bots in it.
RWBY Deckbuilding Game Screenshots
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