Legends of Norrath: Oathbreaker Review
Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
In the 90s, trading card games were the wave of the future. Anyone who
was even slightly interested in roleplaying games or fantasy worlds
during that day and age had a set of style="font-style: italic;">Magic: The Gathering
cards, and games were eagerly played out in card shops and kitchen
tables. The fascination with trading card games has continued into the
21st century, but the interest in the paper products has waned. Instead
of the cardboard cutouts, online trading card games have taken over the
spotlight and have even grown into the predominant medium for many
trading card companies.
One development studio that has embraced the digital trading card game
concept is Sony Online Entertainment’s Denver studio. Just
last year, SOE Denver’s development team released style="font-style: italic;">Legends of
Norrath: Oathbound an online trading card game that takes
excitement and strategy of the original EverQuest and creates a
multiplayer experience that truly rivals the hay day of tabletop
trading card games.
Another 250 card
expansion set has hit Legends of Norrath.
Over the last few months, I’ve been closely following
of Norrath, watching as players enter and win the
Qualifiers or simply group together in random matches to take out the
epic bosses of yesteryear in hardcore “raid”
experiences. It’s been a wonderful trip, and you can check
out all of my experiences with the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/29361" target="_blank">various
sets target="_blank">in each href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/12633">of my reviews.
Recently, SOE Denver released their latest expansion set: Oathbreaker.
Weighing in at over 250 cards, Oathbreaker continues to follow SOE
Denver’s pattern of 250 card expansion sets and also
introduces a new raid, two avatar races, class-based theme cards (like
the “unarmed” Monk, Coercer, Templar, and
Beastlord), and a new card mechanic. Veteran players will be excited to
see the latest upgrades to the raiding system – the latest
raid requires that you have the four different archetypes in your party
– encouraging players to create a deck of each archetype to
insure that they’re ready for any raiding challenge.
As always, the new cards are incredibly well-drawn – perhaps
some of the best in Legends
of Norrath history – and truly
exemplify the quality of the artists that are employed by SOE Denver.
From commons like the Vampire Noble to rares like Thubr Axebringer,
each card has an amazing amount of personality and artistic flair. This
set also features the faces of several people from the community,
including three of the championship qualifiers. You can see their mug
While my previous reviews have discussed the intrinsic value of each
particular set, I wanted to step back a bit from my experienced status
with the game and also take a look at what SOE Denver has done to
improve the quality of play for gamers that are new to LoN. Hopefully
my synopsis will help shed some light on the game for EQ addicts that
have yet to take the plunge into Legends
What Can Veteran style="font-style: italic;">Legends
of Norrath Players Expect?
With the release of Oathbreaker, SOE Denver has really begun to
diversify each of the four archetypes that are available to deck
builders. Though the general gameplay mechanics remain the same for
each archetype (fighters are good at avatar combat, mages at direct
damage, etc.), each archetype has been honed and the archetypes
themselves have their own variants.
LoN continues to be
one of the more complex trading card games on the market.
As I’ve stated in my past reviews, I’ve always
preferred to play a pet-toting Necromancer. While the first few sets
didn’t really cater to my desires for full-fledged
Necromancer warfare, this third expansion set has really enlivened play
for the pet-conjuring mages on the servers. This expansion set includes
a variety of different cards for players that are looking to create
their own themed decks, and I would wager that there are already a
number of unarmed Monk decks floating around the games.
From a gameplay standpoint, Legends
of Norrath continues to be one of
the more complex trading card games on the Internet. While many may see
this as a problem with the Legends
of Norrath card collection, it
really hasn’t affected the gameplay of the players. For
example, the latest card mechanic that the developers have introduced
really integrates well with a number of other mechanics that the
players have come to expect. Essentially, the players of LoN know and
understand that each new set is going to be introducing a new mechanic
to their game, and so veteran players adjust their decks accordingly.
That said, the meta-gaming in Legends
of Norrath continues to be one of
the more intense and complex meta-gaming adjustments of any online card
game. With each set containing 250 new cards, players frequently
scramble to find the best strategy during the first few weeks of play.
Scouring through 250 cards is no small task, and unless you have a
encyclopedic memory you may find yourself faced against a strategy that
is totally unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. This
element of the game can be frustrating, but at the same time
it’s a thrill to see an opponent deploy a strategy that is
Why Should Gamers Look
Into Legends of
If you’ve ever played any of the style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest titles,
you’ll find something in Legends
of Norrath: Oathbreaker that
appeals to you. Although this particular set focuses on the Coercer,
Templar, Monk, and Beartlord, all of the classes still get their own
particular cards to play with. As I mentioned earlier, several of the
archetypes have seen significant upgrades in this set, but SOE Denver
always tries to include a little love for everyone.
Even if a gamer isn’t interested in collecting the cards or
checking out the in-game loot, players can still participate in the
free expansion scenarios (which now include four different campaigns)
that can be completed by even something as simple as a starter
deck. These scenarios can be adjusted for various difficulty
levels, and so it makes it an easy choice for new players looking to
get a feel for the game before they jump into a true LoN match.
The developers at SOE
Denver have done a terrific job balancing the game thus far.
One of the most interesting pieces of Oathbreaker isn’t in
the set so much as the timing of its release. Right now, SOE is
program, which encourages gamers to jump back into the world of Norrath
and take a trip down memory lane to see some of the old sights and
sounds. While LoN may be a new entry into the EQ franchise,
they’ve also jumped into the fray and have a complete
scenario dedicated to the “Living Legacy” events,
allowing players to run side-by-side with legends from EQs past.
I’ve played through the Living Legacy event, and it is just
at the right difficulty level for a new entrant into the LoN
The Final Words
However, Legends of
Norrath does remain one of the toughest games to be
competitive in on the market. Players that don’t have access
to the biggest, rarest cards often don’t stand a chance
against the players that have been toiling with their decks since day
one. In a recent match I played against, my competitor was in awe at a
particular card combination that my mage had just pulled together,
allowing me to one-shot a raid boss. Although I’m nowhere
near the most competent player in the LoN ranks, it did raise a warning
bell for me that the newer players in the game may not be experiencing
the sort of organic deck development that many veteran LoN players have
Finally, I’m still worried that the style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath
game is growing too quickly for its own good. With 250 cards in each
new set and multiple new mechanics, avatars, and card types introduced
in each set, the balancing act that SOE Denver has been pulling off may
soon be toppled with one errant card. Luckily, style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath
digital card game, which gives the developers some leeway, but I
can’t imagine the uproar that would occur if a broken
strategy allowed a player entrance to the GenCon championships.
In general, Legends of
Norrath continues to be an entertaining
experience for gamers that are interested in a little diversion from
their favorite MMOG and wax nostalgic about their trips in Norrath. As
each new set hits the LoN client, I’m consistently blown away
by the art direction for the game and the clearly functional game
mechanics that the SOE developers have created. Hopefully, the card
game will continue to gain in popularity with each new set, but
that’s a piece of the puzzle that remains to be seen.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Legends of Norrath Game Page.