Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, Poxnora is a combination of Magic: The Gathering and strategy-style games like Age of Empires or Age of Mythology. Games consist of one-on-one matches between two players, each of whom starts the game with a bank of 20 runes, similar to the cards that one has in M:TG. Players have a bank of “Nora,” which is needed to use runes, which can bring pieces onto the field, equip pieces already on the board, or cast spells. Like in most strategy card games, the individual runes are of various strength, based largely on how common or uncommon the particular rune is.
Registration and game play are completely free, and a player with an hour or so to kill can easily find himself well-entertained and challenged without spending a dime. Paid features of the game include recorded rankings, such as game wins/losses, and the ability to acquire new sets of runes, which can provide a player with crucial leverage in a game. The goal of the game is simple: guard your shrine while destroying that of your opponent.
So is it worth paying for? If you’re going up against other players, many of whom have decks that they’ve paid for and customized, then it might be in your best interest to do so-but only if you’re willing to put up the cash for more than 20 runes (two sets of ten, priced at $2.99 each). The random draw for free users typically has at least a couple of rare runes mixed in with some uncommons, so it is entirely feasible to be able to put up a good fight or even win without paying for a full deck. If you’re in the game for the win, then you might want to consider investing in a set of 30 runes, currently selling for $8.49.
There are plans for future implementation of new features, such as rune trading between registered players as well as player card auctions, which will allow players to easily fill in the gaps in their collection and create sets of runes that are customized entirely to their own tastes. There is also a complex AI system in the works, which will allow players to hone their skills and try out new rune sets and strategies against computer opponents before entering into interpersonal competition. Shortly after this is implemented, we can expect to see the addition of player guilds, tournaments, and battle statistics-all offering a more comprehensive game overall.
While currently a small system with a limited number of players, Poxnora players need not worry about finding others with whom to play the game; at most you can expect to wait for about five minutes for someone to join a game that you’ve created, and since games last somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour and a half, the opportunity for a short break is often a welcome breather. The greatest challenge that Poxnora currently faces lies not in recruiting new players, but in finding those who can actually run the game on their machines. The system sometimes lags for players while others simply cannot get the java application to execute on their computers, but as the game is in the early stages of its development and release, interested players can expect these bugs to be worked out before very long.
Once the game has started, gameplay is smooth, and the scenery is quite pretty. The individual pieces move and change according to actions assigned to them, and all in all, the game is pretty much everything that you would expect. The graphics are slightly above par, and the commands are simple to use-even without reading through the guide on the game’s web page, learning to play Poxnora is a process that can usually be completed though the course of a single session.
All in all, Poxnora is a strong game combining a couple of simple concepts popular in computer, card and board games of yesteryear. With above average graphics and gameplay, this game has definite staying power.