Rage isn't just a shooter. Or a driver. Or a shooting driver. Or a sorta action game. Or a sorta role-playing game. It's also a post-apocalyptic game closet: A place where you can go to spend hours soaking in future Earth's take on card, music and dice games. Oh! And even play a little finger filet.
But today I just want to talk about Rage's amazing take on a collectible card game. Rage Frenzy isn't some throw-away mini-game. It's a fully realized collectible card game that is played with cards you find scattered throughout the world of Rage. (You can also buy a starter deck, but the good cards are out there waiting for you.)
After spending perhaps a bit too long playing the game, I asked Bethesda's Pete Hines (a fellow Rage Frenzy addict) to walk me through the nuances of the game, where to find the best cards and how to excel in Frenzy.
The Basic Rules
Rage Frenzy is a turn based card game. The idea is to build a deck with cards that you collect throughout Rage. Once your deck is ready, you may challenge one of two card sharks located in either of the two major settlements, Wellspring or Subway Town. Each card shark offers three difficulty levels, at increasingly larger play costs. The difficulty level chosen determines the points available to be used for building a deck.
Each card has a cost associated with it, and the maximum number of cards in a deck is 12. So, spend your points wisely and avoid too many points remaining and too few cards.
The game starts with both you and your opponent flipping the top card from your decks. All cards enter play in a guarded state reducing incoming damage by 50 percent rounded down. Once a card performs an action that card is no longer guarded, and it receives full damage from any incoming attacks, unless the chosen action was to re-enter the guarded state.
There are several different types of cards. Melee cards only attack cards directly across from themselves. Healing cards may choose to heal a damaged card or enter the guarded state. Ranged cards may select their target, however if the opponent has a vehicle card in play, the vehicle must be targeted first. Vehicle cards generally have higher hit points and can only guard, making them great defensive cards. Finally there are explosive cards that damage all cards in the opponent's play area when they enter play. Explosive cards do not stay in play, but are instead discarded after taking effect.
Your turn consists of performing each of your cards' actions from left to right. If at the end of your turn you have fewer than four cards in play, you must flip the top card from your deck and place it into play. If the flipped card is an explosive, the card performs its action and is discarded. Otherwise, it is the opponent's turn. Your dead cards are removed at the beginning of your turn, and all cards move to the left to fill in any open spots left by the removed cards. You win by destroying all of your opponent's cards. Winning awards you the initial wager, and losing costs you the same amount. In the event of a tie no money is lost or gained.
The strategy for Rage Frenzy starts during the deck building phase. When building your deck, the best strategy is to keep like factions together. Cards are marked with identifiers which indicate their faction. Certain cards provide buffs to other cards of the same faction. Faction buffs increase damage done or the health of a card, and some even do both. Since cards enter play in a random order, it's best to avoid depending solely on one card. Instead focus on building a deck that is good all around. Using cards that provide good support and buffs along with some nice damage dealing cards is a strong strategy. Vehicles prolong the life of your cards by soaking up damage from ranged units that would normally target weaker cards. Don't forget to add ranged cards to your own deck. They are a great way to pick off those pesky healing cards or the lower health cards that deal high damage. Be smart when picking your targets and try to think a couple moves ahead.
Hints on where to find the cards
Cards themselves are found all throughout Rage so it's best to check every dark hallway or dead-end staircase. Chances are, if you encounter a new enemy unit, there's a card nearby in the level. Also if there was an area you couldn't reach because you needed a lock grinder and didn't have one, you may want to consider revisiting that room because it could contain a box with one of these cards.
- Spending points on the more expensive cards works best when also getting buffs from cards of the same faction.
- When trying to get the "The Hardest Deck" achievement for beating Teague on her highest difficulty setting, an easy and effective strategy is to match her deck card-for-card. It's a 50/50 chance, but it is the EASY strategy ;). I prefer the strategy of wiping the floor with my opponent for maximum winnings. There's a deck that makes this possible. You just need the right card combo.
- If you aren't having luck beating your opponent with the cards you have, it's time to do more exploring and find more cards. The more cards you have the better deck you can build.
A quick look at the game in action
Thanks to Kotaku intern Matt Buzzi for creating the video.