Greeting, friends! Today marks one year since Mythgard officially released to the public. Sadly, the game went into maintenance mode recently, and it doesn't look like it'll come out of it anytime soon. Hopefully it will rise from the Boneyard one day, but the game is still playable, and relatively active. Let's talk about some factors that contributed to it's early fall, as well as aspects of the game that every other digital card game should at least take a look at.
Why Did Mythgard Fail?
The way I see it, there are 3 main factors that contributed to its downfall:
- Legends of Runeterra
- The monetization
- The marketing
Let's address the Arcanovore in the room first. Legends of Runeterra officially launched in April 2020, roughly half a year before Mythgard. Being based on the League of Legends IP, a lot of eyes would be set on it, and 6 months into the game's life cycle, most players would already have a nice collection to work with. With the Call of the Mountain expansion cycle happening around the same time Mythgard's release, there was little reason to check out a brand new card game with an unknown IP, regardless of how good it might have looked. The fact that LoR was and still is a more generous game overall didn't help matters either.
Speaking of, let's talk monetization. Now, don't get me wrong, Mythgard is very generous for a card game. Emphasis on 'for a card game'. The big problem with most digital CCGs is the need to play them consistently in order to not fall behind on releases. Even the aforementioned Legends of Runeterra suffers from this issue. And while that might be fine for a big game with lots of players, it can be quite the issue for a small one. Here's the thing, when it comes to card games (and any F2P online game, really), ~80 % of your revenue comes from ~2 % of your audience (more or less, the exact numbers don't matter). This means that most of your player base won't spend money on the game, and you must rely on a select few for your revenue. And those people won't spend their money if they feel like the game isn't big enough, or if they think there's more value in a competitor's product.
Finally, there's the marketing, or rather lack thereof. The game was just not that exposed to the outside world. Most articles about the game were on fairly small sites, generally focused on gaming, which didn't overlap as much as one would think with the card game community (CCGs have a very niche audience). Rhino tried to make a final push by giving away the core set via multiple outlets (one code per faction), but they were, again, small sites, and internal trouble in the company meant the final 2 codes were released months after the first 4, killing any hype that strategy might've generated. Personally, I think Rhino should've leveraged the game's unique blend of mythology and cyberpunk by sponsoring content creators in these field, even if their main content was not card games. Their audience might've given the game a shot regardless, had they been exposed to it.
What Did Mythgard Do Right?
Mythgard did a lot of stuff really well, sometimes to the point where other card games should just straight up copy them!
Let's start with something every game has, yet none implement: the decktracker. Mythgard is the first and, as far as I know, only card game with a built-in decktracker, which boggles the mind! Most other card games rely on third party solutions. And Mythgard's implementation is great: it tells you how many cards are left in your deck, hand, boneyard and outside the game, it tells you how many copies of these cards are burnt, and it also shows what your opponent has played, all while being a lot less intrusive than most implementations in other games. Then when watching the replay of a match, you can see your opponent's entire deck and copy it, which is pretty much impossible with a third party tracker unless the devs expose this data.
Oh, yeah, the replay function! That, along the ability to see the win ratio of your deck right in the game, made it very easy to improve as a player. Again, most other games rely on third party implementations for this, which isn't great if you want to play on multiple platforms, or if you forget to open the needed app. Mythgard's version wasn't perfect: the replays would break if a new patch came out (which made sense, considering the implementation), you couldn't download the replay for easy sharing, and I wish there was some way to favorite the games I watched. But the fact that it was in the client is what makes it so amazing! And it's not limited to your games either: if you want to rewatch a match happening on higher ranks, you could do that! Or how about jumping into the history of a high ranking player and seeing how they pilot a deck you're trying to learn? You could do that! (assuming the player didn't set their profile to private).
Speaking of pro players, one of Mythgard's most impressive technical achievements is it's full in-client tournament mode. This allows anyone to set a tournament right from the game, while allowing them control over aspects such as entry fees, deckbuilding rules, deadlines, and more. The Rhino team themselves have used it during their end of season tournaments to great success. This is a future a lot of card game players ask for, and it's not implemented in games that have several times the development resources Mythgard had to work with.
Moving on to the gameplay, keep in mind that those aren't needed in other card games, but they'd at least grant more depth if implemented. First up, Paths. Those are passive effects that enhance your deck, usually by offering you extra cards (drawn from your deck, returned from the Boneyard, or even generated from thin air) if you built your deck accordingly. They're similar in a way to Hearthstone's Duels treasure, except not as powerful and quite a bit more complex. The Paths we've seen so far were more focused on general deckbuilding archetypes (aggro, hand size, board control) or specific aspects of the game (Enchantments, Artifacts, Powers), but, had the game continued, I would've loved to see some tribal Paths, like for Canines, Rebels, or Constructs.
Another great aspect of gameplay is the Gem and Burn system. Basically, if you want to gain any resources to play the game, you needed to 'burn' a card, shuffling it from your hand into your deck. Doing this would grant you +1 Mana and a gem of a certain color. This system is a great middle point between auto-gaining Mana (like in Hearstone) and having a separate resource (like in MtG), offering an extra layer of decision-making while almost completely eliminating the issue of Mana flood/screw (there's still a few edge cases where it can happen, like needing to burn one more card to play the one in hand, but drawing an already burnt card). And while there's plenty of ways to reduce the Mana cost of a card, there's not that many options for getting rid of the gem cost, so infinite combos with cards that cost 0 can't happen.
Last, but certainly not least, are Ephemeral cards! Those are cards that, if they go counter to the normal flow of the game (deck -> hand -> board) or that gets sent to the Boneyard will be instantly banished. This is an amazing balancing tool that helps keep in line any mechanics that would eventually break the game. Pretty much every card in the game that is generated in some way is Ephemeral, but the best application of this is with revival effects. Almost every card in the game that allows you to get another one from the Boneyard will give it Ephemeral, meaning that, when that Minion is killed, Artifact is destroyed, or Spell is played, it'll automatically be banished from the game, and can't be abused in an infinite loop. And while there are ways to suppress Ephemeral, they're fairly hard to activate.
What's Next For Mythgard?
This is entirely up to the developers. While we here at OutOfCards hope the game will be relaunched some day, if worst comes to pass, let's at least hope that the game will be playable in some sort of offline mode against bots, to preserve this underrated gem.
In the meantime, happy birthday, Mythgard, and here's to a happy re-birthday in the near future.