After launching last year, building up a fanbase and adopting a buy-to-play model, Faeria offers something different to other CCGs out there like Hearthstone.
One of Faeria's best UK players, Christopher Lewis, earnt more than $1,000 in tournaments and took part in a community program, catching the eye of the game's studio Abrakam, who ended up hiring him. Esports News UK talks to Christopher about Faeria and his transition from high-level player to developer.
ENUK: Please tell us about yourself and your background in gaming.
Christopher Lewis: I started playing card games with budget decks on Magic: The Gathering Online, as the customization in deck building really appealed to me. I only played casual room in Magic Online, with budget decks, so I only realised I was actually good at card games when I started playing Infinity Wars and reached rank 1 on the ladder.
After that I played pretty much any online card games I could find, like Hearthstone, Duelyst, Elder Scrolls Legends, Gwent and Faeria.
Other than card games, I also enjoy MOBAs a lot. I have reached Grand Master in Heroes of the Storm and was a part of some teams that hoped to go pro, but I was never quite good enough for that.
"Faeria has a Championship League which runs every two weeks and anyone can compete for a $400 prize pool. Every three months, the top 32 players compete for a $2,500 prize pool.
Other than that, there are some one-off Faeria tournaments planned, such as 'Blitz' where you only have seconds to take your turn."
Christopher Lewis, Abrakam
How does Faeria differ from other competitive CCGs. What made you play it?
Faeria is one of my favorites. I like how the board and land placement leads to lots of subtle differences and improvements you can make to your play. For example, in Hearthstone you either play card A or card B. In Faeria, even with just two cards you can play, you have to decide which land to play and where to play it, then where to place your new creature.
You've gone from being a top Faeria player to working on the game's design. Please tell us about this, how did it happen and how does it feel to go from player to developer?
Although I am sure my competitive record helped my job application, I think my work in the Faeria Vanguard was a bigger part of it. The Faeria Vanguard is a community program where about 10-30 players get to see new cards and features early, to give feedback and help develop things.
While in the Faeria Vanguard I talked a lot with my predecessor, Dan Felder, and he liked my thought process enough that he suggested I applied to Abrakam, something I hadn't considered as a serious possibility until then.
Overall, the transition from player to developer has been an interesting one, but also one I enjoy. Even as a player I liked game design a lot, hence me applying to be in the Faeria Vanguard in the first place.
Are you based in Belgium at the studio now? What's it been like, having a game come out and change your life like that in a relatively short space of time?
I am indeed based in Belgium at the moment. I moved as soon as I took the job - game design is a collaborative process, so it's quite difficult to do without being able to talk to people in person. It's been a big adjustment to change countries, and it's something I still am getting used to, but also a nice adventure.
What does your role involve? What's your job title and what kind of things do you work on?
My job is a game designer for Abrakam. In practice, this means working on new cards and balancing old cards, along with writing specifications for new features - such as the lore book - and generating solo content.
Recently in Faeria I have been working on the Fall of Everlife (DLC) card base, and exploring some ideas for solo content.
When did you start playing Faeria and what have you achieved?
I started playing Faeria early 2017, when it appeared on Steam. Overall I earned $1,100 playing Faeria, mostly from multiple second places since I never managed to win a big tournament.
I was also part of the teams Draco Deus and Apex, both of which were either the best or second best teams of their time.
What are your thoughts on the long-term potential for Faeria, where do you see it in a few years' time?
This is a hard question to answer, as it depends how well the Fall of Everlife expansion and the buy-to-play switch go. If things work out, I think Faeria will have a few more expansions under its belt in that time, along with more solo content.
This is something many players have expressed interest in, and it's an area we want to work on.
What advice would you give to newcomers of the game, how can they get started?
My biggest single piece of advice would be join the Faeria Discord! It's very new player friendly and a great way to learn about the game.
What Faeria tournaments are there for players to take part in at the moment, and what plans are there on the competitive side of things for Faeria in the future?
The most consistent tournament series at the moment is the Championship League. This runs every two weeks, and anyone can compete for a $400 prize pool.
Every three months, the 32 players who have been doing the best in these bi-weekly tournaments, or on ladder, compete for a $2,500 prize pool.
Other than that, there are some one-off tournaments planned, such as a 'blitz' Faeria tournament where you only have seconds to take your turn.
"I have personally been very frustrated by how much money you need to drop on 'free' games in order to keep up competitively. I hope games like Faeria can demonstrate there are other business models available"
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I am personally excited to see how the buy-to-play switch works for Faeria. I know I have personally been very frustrated by how much money you need to drop on 'free' games in order to keep up competitively, or even just to experiment with multiple decks.
I hope games like Faeria can demonstrate there are other business models available, similar to the 'living card game' design of Fantasy Flight titles, like Net Runner and Legend of the Five Rings.