This is the first installment of Blockchain Gaming, a series of written reviews and previews of blockchain-based video games. Since the cryptocurrency industry is still nascent, most of these games are still in rudimentary forms, but we believe that blockchain gaming will become a noteworthy genre, if not a commonly-used technology across the gaming world.
Moonga, however, has been around for a while, having been released in 2009. It became a fan favorite as an early innovation in online trading card games, but began losing the spotlight to bigger competitors like Blizzard. Now EverdreamSoft is turning to blockchain gaming in an attempt to regain their competitive edge.
Moonga takes place in the land of the Four Continents, ruled by the tyrannical Sayosia Empire. Like many fantasy stories, it follows the tale of an unwanted child who rises to prominence after apprenticing under a great wizard. Named Marnordir, he discovers a way a way to imbue magical essences into cards called Spells, which can be wielded in battle and are the basis of the game.
Taking up residence in the country of Juzil, Marnordir used these cards to kickstart a rebellion against the Empire of Sayosia. Sayosian forces suffer heavy losses, but eventually Emperor Daryen obtains the secret of the Spells by way of deceit. That’s pretty much where the player takes off.
There’s not much more to learn about the story from the Moonga website, but you can ascertain bits and pieces about the Moonga universe from browsing the cards. There’s also a community and detailed lore online to flesh things out, but in truth, the focus isn’t really on the story. Other trading card games like Magic: the Gathering don’t have much story behind them, either, and they have stood the test of time.
It’s hard to expect much from a game running on Android and iOS. The game menu is nothing special, with a looping tune that can become monotonous. When you enter a match, battle music begins and the screen turns sideways to better virtualize the tabletop card-playing experience. Both screens are accompanied by the game’s stylistic illustrations.
The illustrations are where Moonga‘s presentation really shines. Some of the cards are really fun to look at, especially the creature and monster cards—they look almost like watercolor paintings. EverdreamSoft wants you to want these cards.
My biggest complaint is the grammatical errors in some cards and the online lore. Granted, this is a European company working in their spare time. The English-speaking market is huge, however, and it’s a very easy fix that would give the story more production value. They could also add captions at the bottom of cards (if space allows), like Wizards of the Coast does for MtG.
Having grown up on MtG and Pokémon cards, the rules seemed unfamiliar to me, but it works very well. You must choose five of your cards to use for the duration of the match; four are Attack Spells to be used once each during the games four rounds, and the fifth is a Support Spell played during one of the rounds as a surprise.
With only five cards to choose from per match, the key becomes expanding your options with cards that are not only powerful, but versatile. Players can collect Evolving Cards which morph Attack Spells into a different and generally more powerful form, and many different abilities called “capacities” are available, such as life boosts, direct damage, nullifies and counters.
Each round consists of a battle between the opposing Attack Spells, which have a base amount of offense, defense, and damage dealing capability. Players take turns going first, meaning one opponent knows what Attack Spell the other will play. If your Spell’s offense is higher than the opponent’s defense, you deal the given amount of damage to the opponent. Attack Spells’ capacities can also raise or lower its or the opponents stats.
You can also raise your Attack Spell’s stats by expending Power Points—both players start with eight, and they are also required to play certain cards. Both players also start the match with twenty Life each, and whomever has more at the end of the last round is the winner. With only four rounds, it sounds like it would be over fast, but multiple layers of strategic thinking emerge from this set-up, which requires more skill than luck.
Blockchain integration is what this series of reviews/previews will be all about, and EverdreamSoft is off to a good start with Moonga. One of the biggest buzz words in the decentralized space right now is smart property, and Moonga has joined the bandwagon by placing cards on the Bitcoin blockchain via the Counterparty protocol. When you trade the card to another player, you basically send it via a Bitcoin transaction.
This allows for a multitude of possibilities. You could buy and sell cards on the blockchain for BitCrystals, which will be required to purchase booster packs with the arrival of Spells of Genesis. You could use the Spells in both games, making them true digital assets with the same essential properties as physical playing cards.
The possibilities are truly endless, here, and it will be exciting to see how it works out for EverdreamSoft. They plan to hold a crowdsale of BitCrystals in the future to raise funds for further games, and it’s likely that competitors will put in-game assets on the blockchain, as well.