Video Game / Sol Forge

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/solforge_3500.jpg
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 available on iOS, Windows via Steam, and Android. 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 leveled-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 leveled-up cards. The first player to reduce their opponent from 120 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 Post-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 some 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 Gold (the other in-game currency), which will let players buy alternate art cards, as well as allow anything purchased with said Gold to be shared with other players.

The game's expansion sets are released every few months or so, and each set is often accompanied by additional mini-releases. The chronological list of expansions the game has after its Open Beta, launched in August 2013, is currently as follows:

  • Rise of the Forgeborns (March 2014) introduced the Forgeborns, the first cards to cap at level 4 instead of the usual 3, "Allied", which gives cards bonus benefit if you have cards from other factions.
  • Secrets of Solis (August 2014) introduced multiple new mechanics such as "Consistent", which guarantees a card to be drawn within four turns, "Solbind", where a card brings along additional cards thus increasing the number of cards in the deck, and "Overload", which causes cards to disappear for the rest of the game once played, reducing the number of cards in the deck.
  • Imprisoned Heralds (November 2014) contains some Spells which evolve into creatures, plus a few new mechanics such as "Assault", where a creature gets a bonus if summoned without opposition, and "Upgrade", in which a creature gets some bonus by replacing other creatures, a mechanic which in turn is accompanied by creatures who give you benefit when they get replaced.
  • Reign of Varna (February 2015) introduced Ambush mechanic and spells with continuous effects.
  • Darkforge Uprising (mid-2015) introduced the Darkforged, creatures that become more powerful when played together.
  • Raiders Unchained (mid-2016), introduced "Raid", where you get benefits when three of your creatures attack at once during your turn, and "Formation", where a card gains bonus when placed between two other creatures.


SolForge provides examples of:

  • Animate Dead: A Nekruim specialty.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In case you accidentally (or otherwise) try to use a harmful effect such as damage 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.
    • A new mechanic called "Consistent" was introduced in Secrets of Solis, which has cards with said keyword guaranteed to show up at some point in the next player Rank. This prevents some measurement of "level screw" frustration.
  • Anti-Magic: The "Fun Police" is a deck created by Foxhull, which specializes in countering several different strategies.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI can be very stupid at times. Among its worst plays: Not replacing a creature that has been debuffed to death thus letting those useless creatures clog up the board, replacing a strong creature with a weaker one instead, putting creatures at the wrong lane thus unable to defend properly, and so on.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Forge Guardian Omega boasts a ridiculous stat compared to all other creatures of compara. 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). That, and Omega is just as susceptible to all sorts of "kill" spells such as Botanimate and Dreadbolt. Secrets of Solis brings a slightly easier method to bring out Omega in the form of Forge Guardian Delta, which puts a copy of Omega into your discard pile for you to play normally after the next re-shuffle. Guardians Assemble from Raiders Unchained provides further support to Forge Guardians.
  • Baleful Polymorph: As of March 3rd, 2015, at least three Uterra spells.
    • Botanimate and Dendrify transform an opposing creature into a tree (with Botanimate being hard-gated but shrinks the creature more)
    • Metamorphosis transforms a target creature into an egg (that hatches into a a 9/9 Feywing when that player goes into the next player level).
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Deliberately invoked with the Uranti. Apparently one of the Uranti Yeti was actually called "Big Foot" during playtesting.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Played straight in that you can obviously pay money to build up your collection quickly, but subverted *and* averted in several key ways.
    • Subverted in that you can craft any card in the game with silver.
    • Subverted after Card Sharing was introduced, which allows you to send an unbound (ie; paid with real money) card to someone while keeping an unbound copy of it. Finding a partner to split on pre-constructed decks is now quite common.
    • Averted in the sense that there are some powerful heroic cards (such as Broodqueen and Bramblewood Tracker) which are in several top tier decks. Heroic cards often form the backbone of a solid deck.
    • Averted in some of the specialty Weekend Warrior queues. Also averted at the Unofficial SolForge Ladder, which has Unheroic and Unlegendary queues.
  • Came Back Strong: Several Nekrium cards become more powerful once they dig their way out of the grave.
  • 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 or Abominations. Xithian Shambler literally adds the attack/health of a creature adjacent to it to its own through destroying it.
  • Combining Mecha: The original method to summon Forge Guardian Omega was to have five cards of a specific type on the field.
  • Confusion Fu: Playing a card is not the only way to level it up; Several Alloyin cards can level up other cards, and discarding cards without playing them still levels them up. In the old client, doing the latter two actions levels up the cards without showing them to the opponent, forcing them to try and guess what the player's end game strategy may be.
  • Crutch Character: Some creatures have above average stats at Level 1, but doesn't grow significantly in later levels. These creatures are usually used to finish the game as soon as possible before your opponent overwhelms you with their superior level 3 cards. There is even a deck called "Big Dumb Animals", which relies completely on powerful Level 1 monsters that scale terribly into the late game.
  • Damage Over Time: Poison status deals some number of damage per turn to the afflicted creature. And these damage stack, meaning that a creature getting hit by multiple Poison status can take heavy damage per turn without even battling.
    • Gradually becoming more than just a casual archtype, there are now cards that casts poison on the player themselves, plus other cards (Dissolve, Venomdrinker) that interact with creatures who have poison.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Several infinite draw decks use this method, specifically using Crypt Conjurer or Ice Torrent.
  • De-Power: There are several Alloyin cards that remove abilities from creatures and, in case of Wipe Away, players. Some of this can be used offensively (e.g., to weaken a dangerous creature), but just as often they can be used to help your own creatures (by removing their drawbacks).
  • Difficult but Awesome: Several archtypes are quite effective, but are very skill intensive.
  • Discard and Draw: A trademark of Alloyin, they have several cards that allow you to draw from your deck. They also have cards that allow you to discard a card and level it.
  • 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.
    • Ator, Thunder Titan gives any creature summoned from your hand into an open lane Aggressive.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Abomination creatures, naturally, ranging from the humanoids, beastly, to the utterly bizarre.
  • Elemental Powers: Tempys in a nutshell.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs are a creature type, complete with a Dinosaur who buffs other Dinosaurs.
    • Thundersaur is a powerful Dinosaur that is a staple in many decks.
    • Bron, The Wild Tamer is a card that you can play by replacing an Dinosaur you control with it, transforming into Dino Knight. When the Dino Knight is destroyed, it reverts back to Bron, signalling that he has dismounted the Dinosaur.
    • The addition of Bron, plus the spell Thunderstomp, has made Dinosaurs into a viable archtype. As of Darkforged Uprising, Dinosaurs is now a Tier 1 deck.
  • Evolving Attack: Almost every card basically is one, with most of the cards capping at Level 3. The Forgeborns cap at Level 4, and some other cards don't actually gain an extra 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 current lack of flavor texts for that.
  • Gaming Clan: Several (A1, Battlebranded, The B+ Players).
  • Gradual Regeneration: The regenerate ability seen on cards like Heart Tree causes it to regain some amount of health per turn (varying by level), up to its maximum health.
    • With the release of Zombie Dreadknight, cards with regeneration can be buffed to take further advantage of regaining 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.
    • The Forge Guardians were suspected to be an obvious homage to Voltron by many. This was confirmed when long-term player Outrageous leveraged several Voltron references leading up to his spoiler article being published.
    • The alternate art Thundersaur (Thunderzilla) pays tribute to Godzilla.
    • Mongosaur, literally named after community and QA member Mong 0.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Frozen Solid used to temporarily freezes a creature, but regardless, if that creature takes damage before the effect wears out, it will die. There are other cards that does roughly the same feat.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: From Secrets of Solis, cards with "Consistent" are 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: Some cards such as Chrogias, Scorchmane Dragon, and Iron Maiden; very pathetic at level 1, nigh-unstoppable at level 3.
  • Magitek: The faction specialty for Alloyin.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Most notably seen in Uterra faction.
    • Several cards that buff your creatures, like Enrage.
    • Cards like Cultivate and Nuada, which transforms your little Seedling and Saplings into monstrous Treefolks.
    • The "build a monster" archtype, popularized by Eon, uses several cards like Pummel Pack to grow a large creature.
    • Leafkin Progenitor can grow a level each of your turns.
  • Microtransactions: You can obtain cards though buying chests or packs. To differentiate this from buying cards with Silver, cards that you buy with real money can be shared with other players.
  • Mook Maker: Many Uterra creatures can bring more creatures to the field. In contrast, Nekrium creatures usually bring forth additional creatures by first dying.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Metaminds have four arms. Several other creatures also boast extra arms, for example Cercee who, at her strongest, sports a few dozens of arms.
  • Mythology Gag: All of the Sol Forge expansions have acronyms that mirror the expansions from another Stone Blade Entertainment game 'Ascension''
  • The Necrocracy: Varna, Immortal King rules over his kingdom in Tarsus, and it's full of zombies and necromancers.
  • Necromancer: Necromancer used to be a creature type, but several of them don't actually raise the dead. Perhaps because of this discrepancy, Necromancer as a creature type has been phased out.
  • Play Every Day: The game gives rewards for players who login and play every day.
  • Planet of Hats: Each of the four factions has a hat: magitek, necromancy, elements, and wildlife.
  • Power Tattoo: A subsection of Tempys humans are called the Asir, who apparently are adorned with elemental tattoos as a status symbol.
  • Rocks Fall Everybody Dies: There are several cards that can damage or kill multiple creatures, if not all of them, at once, but among best examples are Ambriel's Edict (kills everyone except the highest-attack creature on each side) and level 4 Varna, Immortal King (kills everyone else but revives one of your creatures who gets killed along the way).
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Some legendaries in Imprisoned Heralds start off as spells. Play them until Level 3, and they become powerful creatures ready to destroy your opponent.
  • Sequence Breaking: Cards in play and in hand usually cannot have higher level than the player's rank, and even cards in discard pile usually cannot be two or more levels ahead than the players (i.e., you cannot have a level 3 or 4 card in discard pile when you are at Rank 1). However, there is a rare breed of creatures such as Leafkin Progenitor who can reach level 2 or even 3 on the field before you even gain a rank, making those creatures harder to deal with using level-gated effects.
    • Also, there are several Alloyin cards who, at level 3, can level up your Forgeborn to level 4 before you reach Rank 4. Notably, Killion, Infinity Warden, one such card capable of that strategy, is also a Forgeborn himself.
  • Self-Duplication: One of Uterra's specialty, even if not unique (as in, other factions have some self-duplication powers, but not as prolific as the Uterra).
  • Shout-Out: Dr. Frankenbaum (along with Frankenbaum's Bride) and Sigmund Fraud are pretty obvious.
  • 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 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 a full-health opponent, nevermind an injured one.
    • 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.
    • Level 4 Oros, Deepwood Chosen, depending on how well you can increase your health. Because his attack value is directly tied to your current health, if you manage to keep your health higher than your opponent's, he can end said opponent in one hit.
  • 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.
    • Oreian Justicar and Herald of Destruction are average cards unless your opponent runs a spam deck.
    • Chistlehearth Archer and Tangle can shoot down a creature with Mobility, but do nothing otherwise.
    • "Ambush" cards are amazing when your opponent triggers them from your hand, but you generally don't want to be playing them during your turn.
    • Averted with Dragon Slayer; provides utility against Dragons, but has good attack.
  • 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.
  • Tournament Play: Both within the in-game client for game rewards, and also on the Unofficial Solforge Ladder.
    • Played straight by several teams, who test decks extensively with one another before a tournament.
    • Subverted by B+ Players, who enter tournaments regularly with rogue decks knowing they won't win.
  • When Trees Attack: The Uterra faction has several.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Nekrium has several ways to make sure creatures that die won't stay dead, such as a level 3 Zimus, The Undying or Immortal Echoes.
  • 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.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/SolForge