Introducing Untamed: Feral Factions (Kickstarter 2019)
This has been a good month for inspiring games! First, the UK Games Expo with games like Lander and Megacity Oceania. Now, with the likes of Untamed: Feral Factions hitting Kickstarter there is a veritable feast of awesome games and ideas coming out of the board game world right now.
Untamed: Feral Factions is a curious game and one we will continue to explore throughout this article. It has a few really interesting ideas, and has been inspired by a range of legendary card games to create a final concept that I, for one, have already backed on Kickstarter.
Over the past few days I’ve been chatting to one of the designers, Jeremy Falger, via email (he’s a genuinely great guy) and thought it would be a good idea to give a rundown of the game so you, dear readers, can see why it is so exciting. Let’s take a look at Untamed: Feral Factions.
Untamed: Feral Factions – The Core Concept
Untamed: Feral Factions is a deck based, shuffle-building card game, based around the concept of different animal factions teaming up together to defeat their enemies. It is designed by Jeremy Falger and Milan Lefferts. There are nine factions in the game – ranging from Pandas, to Crocodiles, to Rabbits and Chameleons. Each has their own unique art style, personality, and play style.
Each player, when they start the game, chooses three factions and (in a similar way to a game like Smash Up) merges them together to create their deck. By combining factions, players can create their own decks, with the different factions meaning there are 84 different combinations to play with.
There are a few really nice concepts that come together with Untamed: Feral Factions to make it a game worth getting curious about. Like with games like Keyforge, Star Wars: Destiny and Magic the Gathering keywords play a core part of the game. Cards synergise to emphasise the effects of other cards, as well as have abilities in their own right. This potentially elevates it above simple shuffle-building games like Smash-Up, and yet the it remains accessible due to a simpler deck-building mechanic.
Where I believe Untamed: Feral Factions really has the opportunity to shine though rests with its unique support mechanic. As creatures are defeated in battle they become support, and that support can be spent to further boost card effects.
The Kickstarter intro video is below for you to check out the core concepts in more detail.
What Makes Untamed: Feral Factions Unique
Last year Keyforge hit the board game market and instantly became popular. It became the flagship for a deck based game for people that didn’t like building decks. Due to this it offered a leaner and more accessible style of play, swiftly becoming an unstoppable beast in the board game world.
Untamed: Feral Factions is exciting because, with the right support, it could carve a new niche in the card game market in its own unique way.
As mentioned at the top of this article, I’ve been talking to one of the designers, Jeremy Falger, over the past couple of days. Through our conversations, I asked him where the idea for Untamed: Feral Factions came from. Jeremy’s response was really interesting as, like a lot of card game fans, Jeremy got into competitive deck building with Magic the Gathering and similar CCGs. MtG paved the way, in due course, to Hearthstone. Those kinds of games – MtG physically and Hearthstone digitally – piqued an interesting in Star Wars: Destiny and Keyforge, which enhanced Jeremy’s knowledge of card games and the card game market.
One of the core concepts and ideas behind Untamed: Feral Factions is, due to the heaviness of games like MtG, to create a really accessible and easy-to-start game that also has a strong footing in strategy. Taking the concept of simplifying deck-building, the shuffle-building mechanic allows for players to pick up the cards and play, rather than spend a hour building their deck first.
Taking the concept of simplifying deck building and making the game focused on how it is played rather than how it is built, it opens the doors to gamers will all sorts of backgrounds. Not only does it mean Untamed can scratch the itch of serious CCG players who want a competitive game, but it also opens the doors to new players looking for an entry point into the card game world.
The influence of competitive CCGs allow for it to have both simple and high-strategy rolled into one game. The nine different factions allow for the excitement of exploration – trying different decks – whilst the absolutely stunning artwork (by Joe Howard, Andrew Soman, Juan Hernández Sánchez, David Tenorio, and Julien Vandois) lets you know you are holding something special.
This, ultimately, is very nice; however, what makes Untamed: Feral Factions exciting goes beyond that.
There are so many card games in the world that use the same concepts and merge into one another as they pass in the flick of the eye. The games that stay are the ones that offer something not seen elsewhere. Magic the Gathering was the first, Star Wars: Destiny rocked the custom dice mechanic, Keyforge has the unique deck concept, and Arkham Horror created the narrative, cooperative, LCG.
Untamed: Feral Factions has a few awesome things it brings to the table – most notably the power and support mechanics. Support is as explained above, however, power adds a whole new interesting strategic choice to the game. Support comes from using cards in your hand to turn them into power for later plays. It’s an ingenious concept – simple, but it has the potential to really make the player choose the optimum time to play a card, and when it is best to let it go to boost other cards in play.
Those few things make Untamed a vastly different game to those we have seen before.
Finally, there is another thing that makes Untamed: Feral Factions usefully unique and that one thing can be summarised really quickly. The base set for Untamed: Feral Factions goes up to three players. This isn’t just a player vs player game, but it allows for a third player to enter the fold.
The Theme of Untamed: Feral Factions
As mentioned previously, one of the ideas behind Untamed: Feral Factions is to make the game as accessible as possible. With that in mind, I actually asked Jeremy why choose animal factions as a theme. His response shows the level of thought that went into the creation of the game:
Most people have a natural connection with animals, not everybody knows what an Orc or Goblin is, but animals are very recognisable and people automatically have a preference for certain animals. Thus we thought it would be a good, accessible theme for a game that is meant to be accessible.
It is a very fair point and one that I personally can get behind. What I really enjoy about the theme though, from a personal perspective, is how Jeremy and Milan didn’t just go for obvious animals. Instead, we have factions such as the aforementioned Chameleons, the Raccoons, and the Foxes. This is alongside larger or tougher animals like Rhinos, Crocodiles, and Tigers.
The artwork for each faction really pops, and gives each group their own feel. They look ace, their abilities are interesting, and we cannot wait to play it.
Untamed: Feral Factions – A Prediction
We’ve made a lot of predictions recently on this blog. Lander could be the next big strategy game. Megacity Oceania could be the next big dexterity game. In a similar vein, Untamed: Feral Factions could become one of the next big card games. It utilises a proven shuffle-building mechanic and merges that with enough new concepts to make it something truly unique.
At the time of writing, Untamed: Feral Factions has 19 days left of the Kickstarter campaign. It has already been funded 419%. Take a look and see what you think.
I would like to thank Jeremy Falger for answering my incessant questions and for allowing me to use the official images on this blog.