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Fable Fortune

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Mediatonic
Developer: Flaming Fowl Studios
Release Date: Feb. 22, 2018

About Phillip Moyer

I majored in journalism because I wanted to use it as an excuse to play video games, but I accidentally got a real job along the way. Now I write reviews in my free time for WorthPlaying.


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PC Review - 'Fable Fortune'

by Phillip Moyer on April 10, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Fable Fortune is a Fable themed free-to-play collectible card game that combines the franchise's most cherished gameplay systems and lore with an array of CCG game modes whilst smothering everything in an unhealthy dollop of Fable humor.

After one failed Kickstarter and seven months in early access, the newest Fable game, Fable Fortune, has finally seen full release on Steam. Flaming Fowl Studios has opted to take a more modest approach to the IP and created a Fable-based collectible card game instead of an open-world action RPG.

Almost every collectible card game borrows liberally from Magic: The Gathering. The core mechanics — players using monsters and spells to attack their opponent and monsters — can be found again and again in everything from Yu-Gi-Oh's Duel Monsters to the Steam Powered Giraffe card game that I picked up back in 2009. The same goes for digital CCGs, though the lack of a physical deck often offers more freedom in the way the game mechanics can work.

The real judge of a CCG's quality comes from its interpretation of those mechanics, and the often-unpredictable ways that the cards can interact with each other and create powerful strategies that can make your opponent embarrassed that they even considered creating a deck.

There's an infinite range of possibilities when it comes to making a CCG, and many developers have used the genre as a platform for increasingly creative designs.

Fable: Fortune copied one of them. Basically, this game is Hearthstone.

For those not familiar with Blizzard's 2014 game, Hearthstone is a streamlined CCG that allows players to choose one of nine Warcraft heroes to battle opponents using Warcraft-themed cards. Each player starts the match with a small amount of mana, which he can use to play weak cards from his hand. The amount of mana that the players have increases by one each turn, allowing them to play progressively stronger cards as the game progresses. When minions attack, both the attacker and the defender take damage at the same time.

Fable Fortune, on the other hand, is a streamlined CCG that allows players to choose one of six Fable heroes to battle opponents using Fable-themed cards. Each player starts the match with a small amount of gold, which he can use to play weak cards from his hand. The amount of gold that the players have increases by one each turn, allowing them to play progressively stronger cards as the game progresses. When units attack both the attacker and the defender take damage at the same time.

These descriptions may sound reductive, but I feel like I'm actually downplaying the number of similarities between the two games. It's one thing for two titles in the same genre to have similar mechanics, but everything from Fable Fortune's battlefield layout to the design of its card packs feels like it was designed while the artists snuck glances at Hearthstone playing on their phones. A regular Hearthstone player will pick up the mechanics immediately because there is almost nothing new to learn.

But the fact remains that Hearthstone is a very good game, and because FF chose to copy so many elements of Hearthstone, the result still is a very enjoyable CCG experience.

There's a truly satisfying thrill that comes from finding a powerful combination of cards and playing it against an opponent. The cards available are well-thought, providing plenty of opportunity for them to alter and enhance each other in varied ways. There's no shortage of clever combinations that can lead to a battlefield full of seemingly insurmountable foes — and no shortage of clever ways to counter these strategies.

The game is chock-full of combinations that allow the player to feel like they're discovering more ways to battle effectively with each new card pack they open. Customizing a deck can lead to a sense of attachment to the end result – or a feeling of embarrassment, if your planned strategy regularly falls flat on its face.

The polish seen in these elements means that to simply write of Fable Fortune as a cheap rip-off would be disingenuous. It's clear that a surprising amount of care, thought, and — dare I say it — love went into the making of the game. The art design alone is a testament to this. Every CCG worth its salt has well-drawn cards, and FF is no exception. More impressive than the beauty of the art is its faithfulness to the feel of the series on which it's based.

Despite all of Peter Molyneux's grand statements about the games, the Fable series never took itself entirely seriously. There was always an underlying goofiness that pervaded the characters, locations and story. The player may have been on a grand adventure, but the character's tongue was always planted firmly in their cheek. The art successfully captures this characteristic silliness. Even cards portraying the most powerful or grotesque creatures have a softness about them that feels reminiscent of the series of old.

It's a remarkable consistency to find, especially considering that the Fable series was generally well-received in its day, but there isn't a vocal fan base that's chomping at the bit for a return of the series. Both the series' open world and morality mechanics have since been done better elsewhere, so if Fable ever returns as an action RPG, it'll likely be met with a resounding shrug from the gaming populace.

One of several differences that exists between FF and Hearthstone is the environments. Hearthstone has no problem making the duels seem abstract, taking place on the same tabletop-esque surface that's more concerned with utility than style. FF takes the exact opposite approach by crafting a large number of fully realized locations that try to evoke the feeling that the card battles are, in fact, real battles being fought between two foes. It's not entirely successful — this is a card game, after all, and no amount of flash and style will make players suspend their disbelief enough to forget that fact — but it is still a nice touch that demonstrates how the artists distinguish their product from its obvious influence. The sound design also helps in this regard, with bold and forceful sound effects that differ from card to card.

In the end, there's no real substantial difference between FF and its much-more-popular brother, Hearthstone. There are some changes and additions — having access to all heroes from the beginning, starting each battle with three gold instead of one mana, and being able to put one unit on defense by spending a single gold in a turn — but these all feel like minor changes to a formula that didn't really need much altering. While ideas such as FF's co-op mode or good/evil system may be interesting, they don't mess with the mechanics enough to truly stand out.

If you like CCGs, you'll have fun with Fable Fortune, but it'll be the same fun that you've already had elsewhere. If you've picked up Hearthstone at any time in the past four years, you won't miss anything by skipping this one. If you haven't picked up either, it's probably more worthwhile to pick up the one with a larger player base.

Plus, you still can't grow an acorn into an oak tree in this Fable game, and that's just unforgivable at this point.

Score: 6.5/10

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