I’ve written in the past about Warstorm (now exclusively a Facebook game), the CCG with no cardplay component. Now there’s Shadow Era, a fantasy-themed CCG with some cardplay component, based heavily on the World of Warcraft TCG, supposedly so much that some consider it a ripoff.
The art is really, really good, featuring attractive humans (check out Jasmine Rosecult’s special power) and nasty monsters in a modern, hand-drawn style. My main annoyance with the game is the interface: 80% of the time is spent waiting for tedious and trivial animations, and if you switch to a different application or process the game pauses so there’s no escape.
The gameplay is about as simple as you can get for a battling CCG but improves on Magic: The Gathering in a couple of ways: your character is featured with a life total and a special power, and you can use any card as a resource (ending mana screw and mana flood). Interrupts have been eliminated to aid the online implementation. Nevertheless the game is still heavily reliant on drawing the right card at the right time, as you don’t have many deck-building options to start off with. I also happened to pick the character who dual-wields weapons, when weapons aren’t implemented yet; thus I am heavily disadvantaged in battles. There isn’t much card variety at the moment; it all appears to be creatures of varying strength (with simple powers), elementary buffs and debuffs, and basic instant effects.
Shadow Era features the ubiquitous pay-to-upgrade monetisation strategy, but I suppose something like that has to exist; at least it’s free to play at low levels, and there’s a campaign.