Scrolls – The difficult second game from Mojang

Scrolls

What a reputation to live up to. Mojang’s first game was (and is) the hugely successful Minecraft. Currently at 7.8 million copies sold, it was originally started by one person, Markus Persson. Released for sale in it’s very early stages, it became an internet phenomenon, making Markus a millionaire in months. Scrolls will also be available for purchase whilst it is in it’s early development stages – but not just yet.

Headed up by Jakob Porser, the second co-founder of Mojang, Scrolls is not only an entirely different prospect to Minecraft, it will also be developed by a far larger team. Several artists, composers and programmers have been brought on-board to realise Jakob’s vision.

The game is currently in a closed alpha state, but a few select individuals have been invited to play-test and to encourage a strong community around the game. Was I one of these lucky few? No, of course not, however a recent promotion in PC Gamer granted me access. I can report that it is just as fiendishly addictive as Minecraft, even at these early stages (Alpha 0.75.0) there is a lot to experience.

Scrolls - Start of a Battle

At the start of a battle versus the AI

Essentially a digital CCG, it uses scrolls rather than cards and allows you to place creatures and structures on to a board-game like battlefield. You can then enchant these units and cast spells of a wide variety to increase your chance of winning. You compete in a 1-on-1 battle to destroy each others idols, you both have five and the first to destroy three of their opponents idols wins the match.

There are currently 3 different resources in the game, every scroll requires a certain type of resource to be spent to use it. You can sacrifice a scroll in your hand for any type of resource, or you can also sacrifice a scroll to receive two new scrolls instead. At the start of your turn you draw the top scroll from your deck, you can then cast spells, place units or enchant those units until you run out of resources (or scrolls). Once you end your turn, your units that are ready to take action, do. Control then passes to your opponent. Each unit has a particular countdown, when this reaches zero they will perform their action at the end of your turn. Every time at the start of your turn, all units countdowns decrease by 1. You can place units on any of the 15 hexagons on your side of the battlefield. Units at the front attack first and you can only attack an enemy unit in the same lane. You can also move creatures (but not structures) once, to an adjacent unoccupied hexagon every turn.

You can challenge the Computer AI on easy, medium and hard difficulties to challenge yourself in the beginning. But really, it’s all leading up to competing with other players in the online multiplayer mode. Currently you are able to challenge other players to an unranked match and compete in ranked matches – where victory rewards an increase to your rating. Starting off at 1000, your rating will increase or decrease depending on the rating of your opponent. A bigger difference between your rating and theirs will yield a bigger change once the match is decided. While there is no official ranking system, ScrollsGuide.com currently provided a leaderboard and rating tracking system that provides an overall raking of the player pool.

A campaign is planned for the full release, which should provide a more meaty single player experience than is available in the alpha build.

Scrolls: Order vs Growth

The wolves attack and savage me while I’m down

There is a chat system built in to the current version of the game, with a General chat and separate boards for decks, trading and strategy. You can also create your own custom chatroom if you want to discuss things privately or off-topic. Besides talking, you can challenge or trade with other player from this chat interface. Everyone is friendly, unfortunately there isn’t a very high average of concurrent users and not all of them are in the chat, so it can be hard to start new conversations.

There are currently 112 different scrolls available, although you only start with 67 of these. You are given a pre-constructed deck of 40 Scrolls for each of the 3 resources currently implemented. Each of them provide a different flavour and series of tactics to play with. You can only have 3 of each particular scroll in a deck but otherwise you aren’t limited at all. You can use as many scrolls as you want, and you can mix and match the different resources however you like. As a nice little touch, you can arrange the scrolls in your deck however you want, this arrangement is saved along with what cards you are actually using (see the image below). You can sort the scrolls in your library by type, cost, name and resource. you can also filter on and off each of the 3 resources. Once you have decided on your deck, you can save it and name it accordingly for later use.

Scrolls - Deck Building

You can build a deck with as many cards as you want, but 40 is the minimum (and recommended) amount

Scrolls are categorised by rarity with 3 distinct levels: Common, Uncommon and Rare. You can tell the rarity by the complexity of the scrolls details, rarer scrolls are darker, more torn and more detailed.

You can acquire new scrolls by buying them for 10 Gold each in the shop, or trading with other players. The shop offers a random unknown scroll for this 10 gold, so trading provides the only way to guarantee obtaining a particular scroll you are after. This mirrors the traditional balance of card acquisition in Collectable Card Games usually provide. You can sell scrolls back to the shop for 3 Gold, but you cannot trade or sell the scrolls you obtain from the starter decks.

Already, Scrolls has sparked my interest and I have been getting involved with the community’s efforts. I have been vigorously updating the wiki over at Scrolls Guide, filling in gaps with pages explain different areas of game mechanics. It is a fun way to channel everything I am learning, writing up pages as I discover features and details for myself.

ScrollsGuide.com is a great resource. The site was created by kbasten and features many things that are not supported in the game yet. The wiki provides a great hub for help and clarification on how the game works. An online deck builder is provided so that you can show off you sweet new deck on the forums. Scrollsbot is a bot in the game that can be fought like the computer or you can “trade” with him to use his shop. The Scrollsguide bot tracks player ratings and provides a leader board of all the competitive players, it even allows you to check your current rank in game. An IRC board (#scrollsguide) is also linked to the game’s chat via the Scrollsguide bot,  this allows you to chat in general whist playing a match, or even when you are not playing the game at all.

Scrolls: Order vs Energy

The medium AI’s Energy Deck is easily put down, usually it puts up much more of a fight versus my Order deck.

The future looks bright for Scrolls, and it looks like they intend to have the first purchasable version out this year. If you are a fan of CCGs, this should be on your radar. If, like me, you have been looking for that 1st card game to put your time into – I couldn’t suggest anything better.

Youtube videos:

There are already a few youtubers uploading content for Scrolls. Here are the ones I have found:

tinfox , Blinky, FaumeMC, ScrollsGuide, HaloKnowItAll, Valon and ScrollsTheGame

Links:

Image gallery:

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