Jeff Pickhardt is taking his browser-based Orbs CCG to the next level of production with a Kickstarter campaign. With big name Magic: The Gathering player Tom Martell on the project and several specific areas of focus, Pickhardt hopes to bring Orbs into the fold of blossoming new digital CCG titles. With Hearthstone, HEX, Scrolls, SolForge, Might & Magic: Duel of Champions, Magic: The Gathering Online and many other digital CCG titles competing for what was once a niche market just this year, how is Orbs going to distinguish itself?
“I really respect the guys making Solforge but we have different game design philosophies, in that I want to make a very strategic game with even less variance than Magic: the Gathering. For example, in Solforge, you draw a new hand each turn -- if you're lucky enough to hit one of your level 3 cards, that's a really good thing for you. Solforge also has cards like Hunting Pack that can have a huge effect on the game, merely as a matter of luck (http://solforgewiki.forgewatch.com/wiki/Hunting_Pack),” says Pickhardt.
“In Orbs CCG, there aren't any cards that have random effects. Further, the fact that you discard one card per turn for energy has a mitigating effect on randomness, decreasing the variance in the game. By comparison, Solforge doesn't have a resource system at all -- it's more like Yu-Gi-Oh! in that respect.”
Orbs CCG is designed to facilitate asynchronous, highly accessible browser-based gameplay so that users can complete matches at their leisure. What else differentiates Orbs from the rest of the pack? The addition of a “bench” zone where any card can be played face down allows players to engage in deception and mindgames. Pickhardt elaborates on another aspect he feels sets Orbs apart from other leading titles:
“I eliminated mana flooding and mana screw, the most frustrating parts of Magic, by allowing you to convert one card per turn into energy of its color. I think a colored energy system like Magic's is really good for a game, because you have to think about ensuring you'll have the right kind of resources to play your cards,” says Pickhardt. “Other games like WoW TCG don't assign their resources a color, but instead restrict what you can put in your deck based on your hero's class. I don't like this as much because it restricts deck building creativity and also simplifies the gameplay, making it less strategically deep.”