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SolForge Fusion Early Access Review – Intriguing Card-Battler

SolForge Fusion is a digital card-battler based on the tabletop version, developed by Justin Gary (Ascension Deckbuilding Game) and Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering) and published by Stone Blade Entertainment. It launches on Steam early access on April 17, 2024, for us in ANZ, and takes a unique approach to the collectible card game (CCG) genre. Instead of the deckbuilding staples like Magic the Gathering, you play with two pre-generated half-decks that fuse throughout the game. There are some new strategies to consider when trying to take out your opponent’s Forgeborn, a champion with a unique set of abilities.

While SolForge Fusion doesn’t offer the traditional deckbuilding experience of crafting your own deck from a card pool, you choose your Forgeborn avatar that has unique spells, and provides some variation within its pre-constructed format. Each core set comes with two unique half-decks, each with its own strategic theme and playstyle. The interesting twist here is the fusion mechanic that allows you to create a new deck with a blend of strategies, offering some level of customisation and replayability. The base game comes with four free starter decks and the developers are still working on what earning more decks without purchasing others looks like. In the near future you will also be able to print your decks to play on a tabletop, making this a hybrid physical and digital game once it releases fully.

The game itself takes place on a battlefield divided into lanes on either side of the board. You strategically deploy creatures in these lanes with the aim to get passed enemy units to assault your opponent’s Forgeborn, the avatar representing their health. This lane system adds another dimension to consider – flanking maneuvers, creature positioning for maximum damage, and anticipating your opponent’s lane control strategy all become crucial aspects of gameplay. Your spell cards can be cast on enemy units to give you the upper hand or to buff your own units.

A standout feature of SolForge Fusion is the constant evolution of your cards. Each time you play a card, it gets discarded and replaced by a levelled-up version from your deck. The strategic balance then comes from whether you play a weaker creature now to contest the board or hold onto it for a more powerful version later that can overpower enemy units. It keeps the gameplay fresh and exciting, with a constant sense of discovery as your cards morph into more powerful versions and is a cool twist to the genre.

I am usually quite a defensive player in these games, but Solforge Fusion has yet another layer of strategy where a central “Forge” grants bonuses to the player who controls it. Capturing and maintaining the Forge becomes a crucial objective, as it can accelerate your deck’s evolution and provide a significant edge. This area control mechanic encourages aggressive play to try gain the upper hand leading into the next turn. The leveling and deck merging mechanics can be a bit complex for new players – I struggled with it initially. Grasping the nuances of how leveled-up cards cycle back into your deck and how lane placement impacts combat can take a few games to fully master.

While still in early access, SolForge Fusion offers a fresh take on card games, with its evolving decks, lane-based combat, and controlling the Forge. The strategic puzzle of optimising card usage and planning your deck’s trajectory while thinking of cards that are upgrading as yoi play keeps things dynamic and engaging. However, the lack of deep deck customization might be a drawback for some players. I am keen to see how the game developer further over the early access period.

This review utilised a key provided by Stone Blade Entertainment and SolForge Fusion will launch on Steam early access on April 17, 2024, for us in ANZ.


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