Did you ever collect trading cards? Do you remember the exhilaration of opening booster packs and building decks? I sure do. I was a big fan of Magic the Gathering back in the day, and I have fond memories of terrorizing my classmates with epic decks filled with powerful enchantments.
That feeling of elation is precisely what developer Rhino Games tries to capture in their new game, Mythgard. What is Mythgard? It’s an online CCG, à la Hearthstone, set in a fantasy world that combines modern-day elements with the mythology of yesteryear. It’s currently in closed beta, but it’s set to launch shortly on Steam. Eager to try it out, I journeyed deep into the lore to experience the game for myself.
- What is Mythgard? A collectible card game set in a steampunk fantasy world
- Game Modes: Story, Puzzles, PvE, and PvP
- Reviewed On: PC
- Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Android
- Developer: Rhino Games Inc
- Release: September 19, 2019
- Business Model: Freemium w/ optional booster packs
The Cards are Stacked
The story begins at the gates of Hell, on the eve of the hero’s journey. Percy, the devil’s girlfriend, has been held captive in the underworld for the past thousand years. As you might expect, she’s had just about enough. So Percy embarks on a journey to escape Hell and reunite with her estranged family. But before she can leave the underworld, she’s got to beat the Gatekeeper in a duel. Enter your first battle.
The mechanics are simple. Both players begin with a deck full of various creatures and spells, and they must use these cards to bring the enemy down to zero life points.
Mythgard was inspired by Magic the Gathering, and it uses the same mana energy mechanics for summoning cards. But instead of tapping lands to gain mana, players are encouraged to burn cards at the beginning of each turn. Burning a card shuffles it back into your deck and earns you a mana point. Sound a little strange? The idea of burning my own cards seemed questionable at first, but the idea grew on me when I realized how much strategy is required in choosing which card to burn and when.
Continuing on, each creature and spell costs a certain amount of mana to play. Generally, the more powerful the card, the more it costs to play. There are hundreds of cards within Mythgard, each with their own power levels and special abilities. Certain cards play well together, and these form the basis of a deck.
What deck does the Gatekeeper use? His battalion is full of demonic forces that swipe at your life points like a fiendish scourge. But it won’t work this time! Emboldened by my decision to escape the clutches of Hell, I take the Gatekeeper down with a series of swift blows aimed directly at him and his grotesque minion’s life points.
Give ‘em Hell
Defeat the Gatekeeper, and you’ve successfully escaped the clutches of Hell. The storyline continues as you travel across the world above in search of Percy’s family. Along the way, you’ll inevitably encounter a series of opponents to battle. This includes a number of fearsome characters ranging from vampires to winged beasts.
The first act is a fantasy/steampunk hodgepodge that culminates in a final battle against the villainous Ved’ma witches. Manage to defeat them, and you’ve done it! Act one complete. All the hard work pays off as the final game mode is unlocked.
After a short victory lap, I went and checked out Mythgard’s puzzle mode. I expected the puzzles to be boring, but they actually gave me a run for my money. In fact, I was stumped at least half a dozen times within the first 30 minutes! There’s a lot to learn about the game, and it’s well worth spending some time here. Not to mention the rewards you get for completing each puzzle.
You heard that right — rewards! Head over the store, and you’ll find a readout of your essence (used for single cards), coin (used to buy booster packs), and Mythril (acquired with real-world money). No worries if you don’t have extra cash to spend on Mythril, as it’s not necessary. Everything in Mythgard can be acquired through play.
What did I buy with my spoils? I jumped right to the booster packs, of course! Just like real-world Magic the Gathering booster packs, you never know what you’re gonna get. I was a kid in a candy store, reading each new card effect, and organizing them in my collection. Heck– I even managed to snag a few rares!
Ace Up Your Sleeve
After playing through the storyline, expanding my knowledge in puzzle mode, and boosting my arsenal with new cards, it was time to build my dream deck. The deck-building interface is quite intuitive and straightforward to use. I was surprised how easy it was to filter, sort, and construct a battle-ready platoon.
What did I manage to come up with? A blue & white valkyrie-meets-wolf hybrid deck that coupled fearsome female warriors alongside bloodthirsty canines. An unstoppable force that would have my opponents quaking in their boots!
Eager to prove my prowess, I launched right into a game of PvP. To my surprise, I was matched up instantly. I take this as an excellent sign, particularly for a game still in closed beta. I won the coin toss, and the game was on!
I’d like to report that I kicked some major butt. But I actually got my ass handed to me by a field full of level 8 and higher monsters. That said, I did manage to survive a lot longer than you might expect. And I’ll take that as a victory in its own right.
Game, Set, Match
Overall, my experience in Mythgard was a mixed bag. The team at Rhino Games pulled out all the stops to launch an insanely polished CCG video game. The mechanics are solid. The difficulty just right (I only lost once during the campaign, but I had several close calls). And there’s a unique feel to Mythgard that’s reminiscent of my time collecting and playing CCGs as a child.
Unfortunately, the story and campaign are kinda lackluster. They’re not bad, by any means. But the plot seems a bit forced, and I can’t really relate to the protagonist. Her motivations just don’t seem realistic to me, no matter how much I try to psychoanalyze them. And this is such a bummer because the campaign should be incredible, given the core ideas behind the narrative. I mean— a steampunk-fantasy game that incorporates CCG duels and mythology? What’s not to love?
The game has insane potential. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens throughout the beta period. Do I plan to stick around? Absolutely— you’ll know it’s me when you see an army of Valkyrie warriors riding in on a pack of wild dogs. Think you can beat me? Check out Mythgard on Steam, then meet me in the arena.
High Ground View
I’ve broken the game up into the following three categories and given a summary and rating for each.
The official website dubs Mythgard’s campaign as modern-mythology/urban paranormal. And in that sense, it’s reminiscent of stories like The Lightning Thief and American Gods. But that’s where the similarities end.
Despite the campaign’s beautiful comic-esque cut-scenes and stellar voice acting, it’s just not that exciting. There are a few areas where I was drawn in, e.g., an epic motorcycle gang battle, but it mostly seemed poorly executed.
This is primarily because I don’t really resonate with Percy. I mean— who waits 1,000 years to escape Hell, and why is she so nonchalant about it all? And isn’t she the devil’s girlfriend? Even with her feisty attitude and couldn’t-care-less demeanor, it just doesn’t make much sense to me. The theme, artwork, and audio effects all have so much potential, but I feel that a lot of it is wasted in the story’s current form.
Mythgard’s puzzles remind me of chess puzzles. They’re short, sweet, and to the point. In that sense, completing each one is a reward in and of itself. Add on the quick shot of dopamine you get after answering each one correctly, and the whole setup is brilliant. Plus, they actually help you get better at the game.
Huge kudos to the Rhino team for this mode, and for introducing it immediately after the campaign.
Don’t be fooled by the fantasy-driven storyline— the competitive side of Mythgard is where the real magic’s at. Once you complete the primary campaign, you gain access to all the competitive modes. This includes Melee, Ranked, Casual, Brawl, Gauntlet, and Arena. Yes— there’s a game mode for every type of competitive player, ranging from PvE enthusiasts to ultra-competitive PvP fanatics.
Though I was horrifically trounced in PvP, the competitive modes are definitely a lot of fun. They’re clearly the bread and butter of Mythgard, and likely where you’ll spend most of your time. It’s well worth checking them out and discovering the many possibilities that Mythgard has to offer.
Game title: Mythgard
Game description: Mythgard is a CCG that incorporates mythology-inspired campaigns with tricky puzzles and a cut-throat competitive scene.
Story Mode - 7/10
Puzzle Mode - 9/10
Competitive Mode - 9/10
Mythgard is an action-packed CCG that introduces a few new ideas to the genre, while heavily relying on its predecessors for inspiration. The campaign and story fell a bit flat, but the underlying concepts are resolutely sound. Puzzles and the game’s competitive modes are where you’ll spend most of your time, and they’re expertly designed with your enjoyment in mind.
- Innovative, yet familiar, CCG mechanics
- Lots of content, even in beta
- Free to play
- Lackluster storyline
- No animations
- Pay-for-advantage microtransactions