Fable Fortune is a Collectible Card Game (CCG) borne from tragic circumstances. Development for the game began at Lionhead Studios alongside Fable Legends. When Legends was cancelled and Lionhead Studios closed down, Microsoft granted the Fable license to Flaming Fowl Studios, an independent developer that rose from the ashes of Lionhead, so that the game could continue development.
Flaming Fowl turned to a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in May 2016, aiming to raise £250,000 towards the game’s development costs. But the campaign failed its target and was cancelled in June 2016. Flaming Fowl CEO Craig Oman cited difficulties in crowdfunding a free-to-play title, and the unfamiliar genre for the Fable universe as reasons for the failure. The game did however attract private funding, allowing its development to continue.
Fable Fortunes is now available on the Xbox Game Preview program for the low price of £9.99, which some may see as a risky strategy with the majority of its competitive set being free to play. However, I will say straight away that the game is great value for money at that price, especially as its also part of Xbox Play Anywhere, meaning its also playable on Windows 10.
The immediate hurdle that Fable Fortune has to overcome is its competitive set. Hearthstone is probably the most famous of these, and is well established and loved. Blizzard has a great track record for producing games that are designed superbly, and they will look after their established player base for years to come. So, Fable Fortune may have a difficult job to get their foot in the door, however launching on the console where the franchise made its name is a very good way to start.
So, lets move onto the “teaching my granny how to suck eggs” part of the review, which is how to play the game in one or two paragraphs! Or, you could watch the video below, which will more easily demonstrate.
The aim of Fable Fortune is to destroy your opponent with the use of cards. Both players start with 30 health and by placing units and spells and using special powers, the players aim to reduce that health to zero. Each card has 3 main stats, Gold, Strength and Health. Gold is the cost of playing that card, strength is how much damage the card does and health is how much damage the card can take. Cards can either take the form of characters (Units) that are placed on the board, or as spells that can be used to cause damage or to boost stats. Cards can also have another special power, for example the Commanding Officer gives +1 Strength and +1 Health to every card already on your team on the board. Cards can also be placed into Guard for the cost of 1 Gold, so they have to be attacked first, and your character also has a special power that costs 2 Gold.
And I am not going to go into any more basic detail than that. The reason being is that the official Fable Fortune website does a much better job of explaining how to play than I can, and with the lack of a tutorial mode in the game currently, its a great place to learn if you are not familiar on how to play these types of games. I am not a follower or huge fan of CCG’s so a tutorial would have helped me in my first few games where I made lots of mistakes.
So, what else does the game have to offer over and above other CCGs. Well, there are six Heroes to choose from in Fable Fortune. Each Hero has their own unique brand of card skills. Marshall the Knight aims to flood the board with low level peasants and then use buffing spells to turn them into a powerful force. Miracle the Alchemist manipulates the Unit card stats with vials and potions, to buff and swap stats. Crimson the Shapeshifter is all about dealing direct damage and strengthening her Units as she does. Barter the Merchant uses Gold as his power, hoarding it to play higher unit cards earlier or investing into Units to make them more powerful. Temple the Gravedigger uses the power of the undead, reaping the benefits of their destruction to become more powerful. And finally, Sand the Prophet is all about increasing health and healing units to keep them alive.
Each of these heroes has their own special powers and unique cards, meaning there is a real strategic difference to each of them, and how they fight against others. Unit and spell cards are also available that are neutral to all classes. And yes, of course, there are card packs to earn or buy, giving you new cards to add to your decks. Crafting is also a feature in Fable Fortune, allowing you to create your own decks and cards. This is a game feature I have not delved into too much, as I feel it comes more into play once the game is mastered.
Once you are ready to play you (currently) have 3 options. PVP, Co-Op and Training. The latter option is the best place to start, and the developers actively encourage this, as it is a great place to learn the different Hero skills and powers. However the basic CCG gameplay is not all Fable Fortune has to offer. When you get into a game the first thing you are required to do is pick a quest to complete in order to get a reward of a spell card. These include such tasks as “Spend 18 gold” or “Play 3 spells which cost more than 1 gold”. As you complete each quest the game allows you to pick another, so you can build up the strength and depth of your deck quickly.
At certain points in the game you also have to choose your morality, and it is a straight choice between good and evil, which is a very definite nod to the previous Fable games. Depending on which one you pick affects your aforementioned special power, which changes to match the choice you made.
Winning or losing a game will earn rewards, such as silver, new cards and will level up your character. Opening card packs will increase your roster of cards, which makes you potentially more powerful, etc, etc, etc. Once I had played a decent amount of the training I jumped into PVP, which is currently set up in seasons, winning earns you medals that increase your ranking and earns rewards.
So, as a gamer who doesn’t play an awful lot of CCG’s just why did I get to review Fable Fortune. Well, to put it simply I love the Fable universe. I adored the first two games in the series, although I missed out on Fable 3 when I took a few years sabbatical from gaming. Although Fable Fortune is quite clearly set in the world of Albion, with the likes of Hobbes and Balverines, it does feel slightly forced. Take out those references and it could be a new franchise. Humour played a great role in the Fable universe and again, it is present but only in the character soundbites, which don’t quite hit the standard I expected. However, with the original games featuring the vocal talents of the likes of Stephen Fry and John Cleese, it does have a tough act to follow.
But lets not lose sight of the fact that Fable Fortune is in Game Preview, and over on the official website the development team have created a roadmap of further development until the full, final release, which promises two more heroes, a tutorial mode, Daily Bounties and a PVE mode. It feels unfair to criticise too much at this stage, at its heart there is a very good CCG. And although it slightly misses the mark on how “Fable-y” it is, it has a charm to it and it is great value for money.
Fable Fortune’s greatest feat is that it made me want to go and re-play a Fable game, and it also keeps the franchise active. Surely if Microsoft wanted Fable to quietly fade away after the cancellation of Legends, it wouldn’t have thrown it a lifeline with Fable Fortune. Thats my optimistic view anyway…
Many thanks to Mediatonic and Flaming Fowl Studios for supporting This Is Xbox!