Review: Eminence: Xander’s Tale

iOS Universal •

Some games just aren’t ready for release. Lets keep that in mind while we talk about the recently released Eminence: Xander’s Tales. Eminence was originally billed as a CCG/MMORPG when it was Kickstarted by Aeterna Studios in 2014. Now it’s 2017 and Aeterna Studios has finally released an iOS version of Eminence, without the MMORPG elements, leaving a odd card game that combines deck-building and random card packs but none of the other traditional elements of a CCG. It’s about as much fun as finding out your ice-cream sundae was made with hot fudge and cottage cheese.

Eminence game board
This is the story of a man named Brady…

There is a moderately interesting game at the centre of Eminence: Xander’s Tales. You and an opponent play on a 3×3 grid taking turns to place cards with numbers on their sides. When two cards are placed next to each other, the numbers are compared with the lower number switching to the colour of the higher one. If there are more cards of your colour at the end of the round, you win. The hook comes from each card edge having different numbers, so switching an opponent’s card can leave you open for a counterattack on one of your weaker sides.

There is an advanced version of the game that lets you combo together attacks if cards are the same faction, but it is poorly described in the tutorial leaving it up to the player to suss out how the whole thing works.

Eminence: Xander’s Tales has six sets, or Divisions, each with 70 cards of varying rarity. Cards are differentiated by their art and numbers on each side. Unlike other games’ factions or colours, here the only difference between Divisions are the art. And therein lies the problem. If I get a new card in Hearthstone or, my current fave, Stormbound, it comes with an ability offering more play options. In Eminence the card has different art and different numbers, that’s it. In other words, new cards have zero significance. Will anyone get excited about a new Harlequin card with a 4 on the bottom side? Not that I can imagine. Why would anyone pay for more cards, and if no one is going paying for cards, why is it a CCG in the first place? There are more questions about this game than there are gameplay options.

At its basic level, Eminence isn’t a bad game. It has some interesting tactical decisions involving how and where to play your cards. Sadly, there is nothing here on which to build a decent CCG. This is the basic, and overarching, failing of Eminence. The developers spent a lot of time and money to graft the trappings of a CCG to something that should have been produced as a filler card game that you could buy at your FLGS. As a quick card game, it works: shuffle the cards, deal five to each player, and see who can make the best of their hand. As a digital CCG though, it falls short.

Not everything has boobs.
No boobs on skeletons? Is that sexist?

As if the lack of a solid monetization plan wasn’t enough the art in Eminence seems incomplete. Some of the art, most notably the graphics for opening card packs, are bright retina-ready graphics. The actual card art, however, is blurry and pixelated. And full of boobs. Pixelated boobs. Apparently the target market Aeterna Studios is going for wants nothing but tired, over-sexualized images of women. I would have thought that particular market segment would have been at home too busy peeling their Tanto Cuore cards apart but what do I know. [I spilled Diet Coke on mine. Honestly. It’s not what you think -ed.]

Bonus pack?
Its not a bonus if you get paid for it.

I am sure that all of Eminence’s design choices make sense to someone, but it seems as if the devs realized that they had to push something out to satisfy Kickstarter backers and just threw out whatever they had. Unfortunately, what they currently have is a mish-mosh of ideas that don’t really work surrounding a light, quick card game that almost does. Eminence might be a fully realized game someday, but right now it’s in dire need of more time in the oven.

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