Video Game: Sol Forge

SolForge is a digital Trading Card Game created by Stone Blade Entertainment (formerly known as Gary Games, creators of Ascension) with an assist from Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering and thus the TCG genre. It's currently in beta on iOS and on Windows via Steam, with plans for an Android version at some point in the future as well. The main gimmick of the game is that cards "level up" over the course of a game, so that when you draw them again they'll become more powerful.

The general rules of the game go like this: At the beginning of your turn, you draw five cards. You get to play two of them (except on the first turn of the game, where you can only play one). Each card has three levels. When you play a card, its levelled-up version is placed in your discard pile. There are five lanes into which creature cards can be played, and on each turn creatures will fight with either the opposing creature in the same lane, or attack the opponent directly if there isn't one. At the end of the turn, you discard the cards you haven't played, but those ones don't level up. Every four turns your discard pile is reshuffled into your deck, giving the possibility to draw some of those levelled-up cards. The first player to reduce their opponent from 100 to 0 Life Points wins.

The game is set in a world where there's no sun, the only source of light and heat being the titular SolForge, a giant Magitek tower. The Forgeborn, those with the power to harness the SolForge's magic, fight for domination of the area surrounding the Forge. There are four factions of Forgeborn: the Alloyin, Nekrium, Tempys, and Uterra.

The game is currently at Open Beta stage for PC, iPad, iPhone and Android, and is free-to-play. The PC version is available through Steam, while the iOS versions are available at the Mac App store and the Android version from Google Store. Players start with two starter decks, and can play daily for silvers (the in-game currency), cards, booster packs and also tournament tickets. Players can also spend real money for golds (the other in-game currency), and some items in the game can only be bought with gold.

The game's Open Beta was released in August 2013, with a small expansion being released some months after. Rise of the Forgeborn was released some time in March 2014, accompanied by three mini-sets released between one or two months interval in between. Secrets of Solis was released in August 2014, bringing in new mechanics. Imprisoned Heralds, released in November 2014, introduced Spell cards which evolve into creatures. Reign of Varna was released in February 2015.

SolForge provides examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: In case you accidentally (or otherwise) try to use a harmful effect to your own creatures, the game will ask you if you are sure about doing it.
    • Because you can have a maximum of three copies of a card in a deck, the game disallows you to sell cards for silver if you only have three or fewer copies of that card in your collection.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Forge Guardian Omega boasts a ridiculous stat compared to all other creatures (To give you an idea, a level 1 FG Omega can go toe-to-toe with most level 3 creatures). The catch is that to summon one, you must sacrifice five Guardian Pieces on board (that usually means at least three turns of placing the Pieces), one of which must be an active Forge Guardian Gamma, which, by itself, is quite fragile and can get killed easily before its ability can go off. That, and FG Omega is just as susceptible to all sort of kill spells such as Botanimate and Dreadbolt. Secrets of Solis brings a slightly easier method to bring out FG Omega in the form of FG Delta, which puts the FG Omega into your deck for you to play normally.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Uterra spell Botanimate transforms an opposing creature into a little tree.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Uranti.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The Legendary (and some Rare) cards are much more powerful than more common cards, and a deck full of them will be nigh-unbeatable without Legendaries of your own. Although it is possible to get Legendaries using only Silvers and thus not spend real money, it will take a lot of time, leaving you the other option.
  • Cameo: Tyco and Gabe shows up in the alternate art for Alloyin Strategist. This probably ties in with Penny Arcade's blog post promoting Solforge some time before its Open Beta launch.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Several Nekrium cards, mostly involving Grimgaunts.
  • Combining Mecha: Forge Guardian Omega can only be formed by having five cards of a specific type on the field. Once formed, it's an extremely powerful card that bears a notable resemblance to Voltron.
  • Crutch Character: Some creatures have above average stat at level 1, but doesn't grow significantly enough that in some cases, their level 3 version can even be drawfed by some other cards' level 2. However, these cards are not without use; Seeing that some of the strongest game-ending cards can only reach their potential at level 3, these crutches can be used to end the game before your opponent gets to play any level 3 cards.
    • Likewise there are cards which have very good level 2 stats but barely grow at level 3, which have similar pros and cons.
  • Damage Over Time: The poison status, caused by cards like Toxic Spores and Cadaverous Thicket, deals some number of damage per turn to the afflicted creature. And this poison damage stacks; A creature that gets hit with poison status multiple times may start taking tens of damage per turn without even battling.
  • De-power: Metasculpt takes a creature's special abilities away. This usually makes the creature less powerful, but in rare cases may make it stronger.
  • Dynamic Entry: Aggressive creatures don't have to wait a full turn before they start charging into battle. As a trade off, however, they are often physically weak.
  • Elemental Powers: Tempys in a nutshell.
  • Evolving Attack: Almost every card basically is one. Most cards cap at level 3, the sparse Forgeborns cap at level 4, and some other cards don't actually gain level.
  • Excuse Plot: If you're the sort of person who needs a good reason why the dinosaurs are fighting the zombies, this probably isn't the game for you. Blame the lack of flavor texts for that.
  • Gradual Regeneration: The regenerate ability seen on cards like Cavern Hydra causes it to regain some amount of health per turn (varying by level), up to its maximum health.
  • Homage: The comedic alternate art Super Chrogias is an homage to the old Superhero trope where the superhero goes into a Phone Booth to change costume.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Frozen Solid temporarily freezes a creature, and if that creature takes damage before it thaws out, it will die. RotF adds in a few more cards that can smash frozen creatures.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: From Secrets of Solis, cards with Consistency is guaranteed to be somewhere in the top twenty cards of your deck, ensuring that you will be able to draw them within 4 turns and thus allowing you to play/level them up.
  • Magikarp Power: Chrogias, Scorchmane Dragon, and Scrapforge Titan, all of which are abysmal at level 1 and are their respective factions' strongest creatures at level 3.
  • Magitek: The faction specialty for Alloyin.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Most notably seen in Uterra faction such as Enrage, but probably the most literal example is Cultivate, which transforms your little Seedling and Saplings into monstrous Treefolks. As for the latter, RotF introduces Nuada, who does the same thing, but potentially every single turn.
  • Microtransactions: The planned model of the game is that all cards will be available without paying, but you'll be able to buy packs and starter decks with real money as well (at prices much lower than paper TCGs). League of Legends has been cited as an inspiration. Take that as you will.
  • Mook Maker: Many Uterra creatures can bring more creatures to the field.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Metaminds have four arms. Several other creatures also boasts extra arms, for example Cercee who, at her strongest, sports a few dozens of arms.
  • Necromancer: Some creatures are necromancers in name only, but some really do raise the dead. Perhaps because of this discrepancy, Necromancer as a creature type has been phased out.
  • Play Every Day: The game gives you some daily rewards in the form of Silvers (guaranteed), cards, booster packs or something else: One is when you log in, one when you score your first win of the day, one when you score your third win of the day, and another one when you win your first PvP match of the day where you are guaranteed to get an event ticket.
  • Planet of Hats: Each of the four factions has a hat: magitek, necromancy, elements, and wildlife.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Some legendaries in Imprisoned Heralds start off as spells. Play them until level 3, and they become insanely powerful creatures ready to destroy your opponent.
  • Self-Duplication: Generally confined to the Uterra. Even Esperian Scarab, an Alloyin creature, can only self-duplicate if you also play Uterra.
  • The Dark Arts: Nekrium in a nutshell.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Arboris, Grove Dragon becomes stronger if you can bring your Life Points to over 100, a.k.a. above your starting life total. His level 1 and 2 stats are relatively ok, but at level 3, he becomes strong enough to one-shot an opponent. Thing is, if you somehow still manage to have 100+ life by the time you summon a level 3 Arboris, you should be winning already...
    • Forge Guardian Omega can also be one at level 3; with Aggressive, Breakthrough, 40 Armor and a whopping 80 Attack, it can and will easily end the game with one swing. But seeing that you probably would be seeing Forge Guardian Omega level 1 and 2 first, those cards being insanely powerful in their own rights, you shouldn't really need FG Omega level 3 to win.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Some cards are only useful in specific situations
    • Oxydon Spitter is a rather poor card unless the opponent uses armor (available only to Alloyin), in which case it can be very powerful.
    • Oreian Justicar is a mediocre card unless your opponent runs a spam deck, in which case it's essential.
    • Chistlehearth Archer (and later Tangle) can shoot down a creature with Mobility as well as locking them in place if they survive that (no surviving Tangle). There are two problems: Some decks that move creatures around the board don't always use only Mobility (Stormcaller Shaman is an example), and Mobility is not a really common ability anyway.
  • Touch of Death: Several creatures have this ability, such as Blight Walker. Some spells such as Touch of Blight, also grants this ability. There's also the Nekrium Forgeborn Cercee, who at level 4 can instant-kill a player with just a scratch.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The better you do in tournaments, the better cards you win, the better you do in tournaments.
  • When Trees Attack: The Uterra faction has several.
  • Zerg Rush: Several Uterra cards are good at flooding the board with creatures (in particular low level Phytobomb, which floods both yours and your opponent's field), and this goes in handy with their other tactic: Mass-buffing.