EVE CCG: The Second Genesis

I bought two starters and six boosters of the EVE card game, The Second Genesis, from our friendly local gaming shop on Friday evening, and I've been poking at it since, working out the rules and examining the cards. It has more complex gameplay than the WoW CCG, and probably a bit more depth of strategy. It's also stunningly pretty, like the original MMO. I like it, although I think I might have a tougher time finding other players than for WoW.

The basis of the game goes like this: you have a starbase. In your starbase, you can build ships. Ships can claim other regions of space, to which you can then play locations. Locations give income in one form or another, or other benefits. Eventually, you can invade your opponent's regions, and destroy their starbase to win. You can upgrade your starbase, and also add extra modules to it.

The starter decks come with two pre-constructed decks, a rulebook, and two sheets of punch-out counters for coins, in units of 1 ISK, 5 ISK and 10 ISK (Interstellar Credits). There are two starters, each containing decks for two of EVE's four factions. Boosters contain 15 cards, one of which is a region or starbase upgrade. There are commons, uncommons, rares, and foil "premium cards" (50% chance of one per booster) which have no game-play difference, but look shinier. The rarity is marked on the cards, but it's by colour of a small icon in the lower right corner, and it's desperately hard to make out whether it's gold, silver, or "watermark" (rare, uncommon and common). In a couple of cases, I actually had to resort to checking on the EVE CCG Website for the rarity of some cards. I think I can see the difference now, but it's still tough.

The rules are pretty well-laid-out and as yet, I've found no glaring ambiguities or unclear areas. I've only played about one and a half games, though, and one of those was against myself to see how it worked. The extra complexity in comparison to WoW or Magic: The Gathering arises from the duration effects, and regions - your deck has a little extra pile of three "outer region" cards to one side, from which you play them as you need them. You can then claim them with ships, place locations in them, mine the locations, and have battles there as your opponents attempt to claim them from you. Locations, your starbase, mining and trading ships, and other cards give income, which is measured out with the coin tokens, and you pay from this income to bring cards into play. In addition to locations, ships, starbase improvements, and so on, there are "news" cards, which have temporary effects on gameplay.

Temporary effects such as duration (and the building time of ships) are tracked with a mechanism I haven't seen before - tabs on the cards. If your ship has three tabs, "Assembly III", "Assembly II" and "Assembly I", you play it with the "Assembly III" tab upward, and rotate it through II and I on successive turns, until it enters play three turns after you paid for it. Similarly, news cards have a duration, which counts down until it expires and goes to the discard pile ("scrapheap").

Ships also have "command" tabs, which indicate what mode they're in - patrol, ambush, mining, or the like. Different modes have different benefits, and you can tell at a glance what mode a ship is in by what command tab is upward.

As I said above, the cards are incredibly pretty. In many cases, particularly for ships, the art is literally a screenshot from the game - something I don't think you could get away with in any game other than EVE. The interface markings - apart from the aforementioned rarity markings - are clear and unambiguous as well. Generally, I like the game, am pleased by the complexity, and would like to play it. I suspect I may have some difficulty finding other players, though, as WoW will be absorbing a lot of the spare cash in the market, and has a strong head start in popularity.

Posted by Drew Shiel at November 4, 2006 1:43 PM

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