Nightbanes
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Nightbanes features a great setting, superlative card artwork and rules that are easy to understand. There is more than enough variety when it comes to cards to keep things interesting and the multitude of play modes are also a bonus. Best of all, the game is completely free to play, so there is no excuse not to give it a chance. You can drop some cash to purchase booster packs or cards, but with enough time and dedication you can still have plenty of fun without spending a cent.

Gameplay: Very easy to learn and also extremely addictive.

Graphics: The superlative card art is varied and very detailed.

Sound: Atmospheric music and great sound effects

Summary 8.7 Outstanding
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Nightbanes

Developer: Diviad | Publisher: Headup Games | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Strategy / Trading Card | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Nightbanes invites you to step into a dark-fantasy world where vampire clans wage war against each other for dominance. As a mighty vampire lord you get to send the creatures under you control into battle against those who dare to stand in your way. You have everything from ghouls and skeletons to crazy clowns, undertakers, surgeons and other monstrosities under your command, but it is how and when you use them that will count the most.

As far as collectible card games go Nightbanes not only features a great setting, but also very easy to understand rules. This doesn’t mean that the game is simple however as it still requires a lot of strategic thinking to outwit your opponents. Back in the mid-90s I was mildly addicted to a trading card game from White Wolf Game Studio called Rage, which was based on their Werewolf The Apocalypse license. The game featured a very similar setting and art style, so when I saw Nightbanes it immediately had my attention.

The game is free to play and you are given the option to select one starter deck. You are also given a small amount of in-game currency which is just enough to buy you a booster pack or two. Your deck can hold a total of 30 cards, made up out of creatures, artifacts, powers, weapons, armor, mounts and lands. The various vampire lords are also cards and the one you use in your deck will determine your health as well as special ability. Creatures form the bulk of your attack force and are divided into a staggering array of classes. Everything from Xeno and Undead to Ethereal, Corrupted, Demonic, Abominable, Techno, Lycanthrope, Bestial, Vampiric and Righthous creatures are available, all with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Some creatures can even equip weapons or armor, provided you have these type of cards in your deck. Artifact cards stay in play when cast and can influence your cards or those of your opponent, while power cards can only be used once, but have the potential to turn the tide in your favor. You can even bolster the health of your vampire lord with a mount card or use land cards to bestow bonuses and abilities on your creatures. Judging by the in game encyclopedia there are more than 400 cards on offer, which allows for plenty of depth.

Gameplay wise the game is very straightforward to play and even if you are a newcomer to the genre you should be able to master the basics after only a match or two. At the start of each match your deck is shuffled and five random cards placed in your hand. You can play one card each round and there is no casting cost involved. Instead, creatures require a certain amount of blood before they become “active” and can attack or use their abilities. Blood is generated automatically each round, so the order in which you cast your creatures is extremely important. I usually opt for creatures with more health near the start of the line, so that they can hold their own while my more powerful creatures are busy charging up. It’s no use casting a strong creature right off the bat only to have it killed before they even has the chance to activate. Choosing when to use artifacts or power cards is a big decision because they can turn the tide quite drastically. You can also use the ability of your vampire lord instead of playing a card, but these are generally limited to prevent you from spamming them. Creatures attack whatever is in front of them, so unfortunately you have no choice in the matter and the same goes for their abilities which are activated automatically. Any creature that has no enemy creature opposing it does damage to the enemy vampire lord. The winner is of course the player who can reduce their opponent’s vampire lord health to zero first.

Nightbanes not only feature a nice meaty campaign mode where you can battle AI creatures for experience and rewards in different locations, but also a raid mode. As far as player versus player is concerned you have the option to engage in live matches using the ELO ranking system or play passive PvP where the AI controls the real deck of an offline opponent. Each PvP season is set to last at least two to three months each and you can also start or join guilds. Overall there are more than enough game modes to keep you busy for a long time and you can enjoy pretty much all of them without ever spending a penny.

Of course, seeing as this is a free to play game there is also an in-game shop where you can buy premium currency called Blood Diamonds. These diamonds can then be used to buy either single booster cards or booster packs containing six random cards. The single booster cards rotate every few hours, so you can hold out until you see something you really like or you can take a chance on the booster packs to get three common, two uncommon and one rare card. With each booster pack you also have a small chance of getting an epic card instead of a rare one. Blood Diamonds are not the only currency in the game though and initially it can be a little confusing to deal with Blood Pearls, Blood Rubies and Blood Badges, which can be earned through battles. If you are totally against paying for premium currency you will be happy to hear that every single card in the game can be obtained without spending any real money. It might take a lot of time and plenty of luck, but it is possible. As you win PvP matches, increase your faction points, level up your character or complete quests you’ll also unlock reward cards, which then become available to buy in the shop. In fact, the game even allows you to level up your cards or evolve cards by combining some of them together.

Although the game has its origins as a browser based title, this Steam version was developed using Unity. It features some beautiful card artwork with unique drawings for every single card. The “table” on which you play is a bit plain, but this keeps the focus on the cards. The game also features some nice spell effects for all the cards and abilities, and overall I really love the visual style. If you don’t care about the eye candy you can increase the speed of the game in order to focus on the action and not all the spell effects. The audio is very good and features some nice atmospheric tunes that fit the brooding nature of the game. Vivid sound effects for all the spells and abilities also add to the atmosphere. There isn’t any speech, but in a game like this it isn’t really needed. I’ve got no complaints when it comes to the controls either as everything works exactly as it should.

There is plenty more to praise about Nightbanes, but since the game is completely free to try I will let you figure out the rest by yourself. Suffice to say I had an absolute blast playing it and it will probably remain installed on my PC for the foreseeable future. I would obviously have preferred that the game have a premium price and include all the cards instead of a cash shop, but I played for a couple of hours without buying any boosters and still had a lot of fun. I was however given some premium currency before the release of the game to try out the booster packs and all I can say is that there is enough cards to keep you tweaking your decks for a long time. As a testament to the addictiveness of this game, all progress and premium currency was wiped before the official release, effectively putting me back at square one after many, many hours of playing, but I got right back to playing. Dropping back to level one and losing all my best cards definitely stung, but I’m still having just as much fun clawing myself up again and have no qualms recommending this game to all fans of the genre. Even if you are not really into collectible card games, this one is free to try and easy to learn, so it is definitely worth a look.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7/8/8.1
  • Processor: Intel core i5 Processor
  • Memory: 4096 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with DX9 (shader model 2.0)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1024 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DX9 Sound Card
  • OS: Windows 7/8/8.1
  • Processor: Intel core i5 Processor
  • Memory: 4096 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics card with DX9 (shader model 2.0)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 1024 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DX9 Sound Card

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2 Comments

  1. Borkedglork March 27, 2015
    Reply

    First free2play game I see you guys review. Must be good.

    • GAMERamble March 28, 2015
      Reply

      It is, but don’t just take our word for it, try out the game for yourself.

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