Most people know of Scrolls because of its parent company—Mojang—which also brought us Minecraft. Others have only heard of it because of the lawsuit Bethesda started about trademark infringement concerning their one-word title. Luckily, Scrolls won out, and they are able to release their alpha version with their original name—today! I received an email this morning with an alpha key, and here are my first impressions of the game. The game is clearly still in development, with a few obvious glitches and very limited gameplay, so I won’t delve too much into its faults until the full release.
One of the first things you notice in the game is a chat screen open to everyone online. Whether the game will always have an open chatroom or whether the game will have multiple rooms that people can join remains to be seen—but at the moment there has been no spam and everyone is very amiable. You can either play a single-player match against very competent computer AI or a multiplayer match against someone in the chatroom.
As someone who frequently plays card games of all types (Magic, Pokémon, YuGiOh, you name it…) the game is definitely unique enough to start its own base and interesting enough to support continued interest. The amount of scrolls available in the Deck Builder is very limited, and only allows for a few different playstyles…only one of which seems to win consistently. Hopefully they will add more scrolls before the game is officially released so that a multitude of playstyles can be supported, rather than just one or two.
The different types of resources are unique from any other games—you can choose from growth energy, machine energy, and some kind of magic energy. The tutorial isn’t exactly specific on what they are called, but they are distinct in that there is no elemental separation of the scrolls. They are just separated by type—machine, magic, or natural entity. Ideally, a deck would have a good spread of each, but there aren’t enough scrolls to justify splitting the resources in it just yet.
As far as actual gameplay, it’s ridiculously fun for anyone who enjoys card games. The three dimensional aspect might take a while to get used to, but if you’ve played or watched Plants vs Zombies you should figure it out very quickly. Managing resources is incredibly important if you want to pull out powerful scrolls late in the game, but so is getting out scrolls quickly to defend yourself from attacks. At the moment, it’s very easy to predict how an opponent will play, so it’s all about drawing the right scrolls at the right time and not making any mistakes in your gameplay.
If you go up against the computer AI, it won’t be an easy win—however, I find that the easy AI is just as difficult as the hard AI, so perhaps the game just has a very steep learning curve. The potential for a very diverse amount of gameplay is there, and the multiplayer is interesting enough. Until the next update, I’ll be structuring new decks and trying to find new strategies. Hopefully, Mojang can create a game that rivals trading card titans Magic the Gathering and Pokémon.