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Fable Fortune Ain’t Fable, But it’s Great All the Same

I’ll be honest: Fable Fortune is the first collectable card game I’ve played.

The genre has just never appealed to me before. Hearthstone has always seemed needlessly complicated to me as an outsider; even my brief dabble with Gwent in my equally brief dabble of The Witcher 3 was a bit too much to come to terms with. I’ve always left CCGs to one side, citing my lack of patience and commitment a good enough reason to never bother learning one.

Enter Fable Fortune. I was instantly drawn to it because of its Fable moniker. Fable III is one of my all-time favourite games, and, as Fable Fortune is likely to be the last time we’ll get to visit Albion, I was keen to check it out.

First things first: Fable Fortune isn’t Fable. It isn’t even close. But what it is, is a bloody enjoyable game that’s fun to pick up and play in short bursts — once you get the hang of what you’re doing, that is.

It’s been playable in alpha and beta for several months — Joe wrote an in-depth preview of an earlier build for us back in June 2016 — but now, Fable Fortune is available to everyone thanks to the wonder of Steam’s Early Access programme. Obviously then, it’s still not a finished product, but what’s currently available of Fable Fortune is perfectly playable and fully functional.

There’s one serious omission from the current build, however: there’s absolutely no tutorial or guidance whatsoever. Okay, so there’s a full how-to guide available online, but an in-game tutorial is something that we, as lazy gamers, tend to take for granted, and the lack of one is sorely noticed. Not realising the guide was online until I’d already put a good four or five hours into the game, however, I managed to learn the ropes myself. While I’m still losing most of the time — not all of the time, mind — I’ve enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and getting better each time I play is pretty rewarding.

I’m glad to say though, that an interactive in-game tutorial is currently in development and will be added to a later build of the game at some point between now and its full release.

Once you’ve learned the ropes, Fable Fortune is pretty simple to play. You and your opponent start with a handful of cards and 30 health. The overall aim is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero, and once you do that, you win the game. The cards in your hand will help you get there, either by casting some kind of magic or calling in a friendly unit that can deal a set amount of damage each turn. Mastering the game means getting to grips with the deck of cards available to you, knowing what is most effective, what to use right away, and what to save in a different round.

Rather than just playing one card at a time each round, you can use as many as your coin balance allows. Starting with just three coins in the first round, this amount increases with every turn. Each card has a cost, and generally the higher the cost of the card, the more damage it can do to your opponent.

The early access build of the game has six different character classes available, and another two are set to be added at a later date. Each hero has their own signature skills as well as a large amount cards that are unique to them. There’s an even bigger selection of cards that are universal across all character classes, however. Given that each hero has their own abilities, you’ll probably favour one or two over the rest as they all lend themselves to slightly different playstyles. I’ve experimented with most, but find myself going back to using Crimson, the Shapeshifter, purely because her skills are damage-based. Others serve varying functions. The Merchant’s skill, for instance, adds more gold to your hand, while the Alchemist can create potions that offer random effects.

It’s a very attractive game to play, too. Fable Fortune‘s bright and cartoonish art style is probably the closest bond it has to the Fable games it has spawned from. The heroes and their units are all brilliantly designed, with humorous quips of dialogue occasionally spoken when they attack or receive damage. It oozes personality in almost every way, and it’s perhaps this charm that kept me playing even though I initially had no idea what I was doing.

I didn’t expect to enjoy Fable Fortune quite as much as I do. My lack of experience with the genre told me to approach with caution, and I didn’t imagine I’d get sucked in and revel in my hard-fought victories. Though, even losing a game feels like an achievement at the moment; each match has at least taught me new tactics, and familiarised me that bit more with the available cards and their nuances.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to jump straight back to it. I’ve got two new packs of cards to open and hopefully one of them will contain the giant chicken that finished me off last time…

Fable Fortune is available on Steam via Early Access. It will be free to play upon its full release (currently set for later in 2017) but you can jump in right now by purchasing the Founder’s Pack for £9.99/$11.99, which contains 20 packs of cards including a couple of legendaries.

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