As a part of InBetweenDrafts’ PAX East coverage, I made a point to mosey around all the card game tables. One title that caught my eye was Gem Blenders, a self published TCG. I’m always curious to see what new ideas are running around this space, and Gem Blenders is pulling from video game RPG elements, so I had to take the team up on their demo offer.
Gem Blenders feels visually at home with the Earthbound/Mother games, while also playing very loose application of consistency. It is a bit hard to get into, as character cards look somewhat goofy compared to its gem cards. The gem cards are resource cards for the gameplaysystem; they are vibrant, bold and striking. There are also action cards to make specific motions but actually devoid of color. This sounds strange but it makes identifying card types in hand very easy. Across all card types, text and information is clear, which was welcome when making quick decisions.
The Gem Blenders demo we experienced was a limited version of a match for the purposes of learning, but the set up was the same. Both players have a party of four citizen characters, right up in line with a turn based RPG. Each player takes turns applying gems to prepare their characters to become a “blind”; a powered up character. Each blend is made up of specific gems, the more gems the more powerful. From that point, the two parties brawl, with each character only able to attack the opponent they’re in front of, and if the opponent isn’t strong enough to defend they take life damage.
In the case of the demo decks at least, the flat stages of the game is grindy. If you’ve played constructed Magic the Gathering, you’ll be reminded of early game mana drops. Likely due to the limited nature of the demo, it was difficult to get more than a couple of blends out. However, Gem Blenders does show signs that it knows where it wants to go strategically. The placement of characters seems to matter greatly, with some blends allowing for swapping. The limitation right now seems to be that the gems do not give much depth when it comes to identity. By design, all gems are blendable, but at least in the demo it wasn’t clear what aspects come from each gem.
While there were some critiques to be had, Gem Blenders has a good foundation. A game this new and in development has plenty of time to refine these details. Taking inspiration from RPG designs is inspired as well; with how much innovation there’s been in that space, Gem Blenders will have plenty to expand into. The team’s Kickstarter is on going right now, which should also help spur growth as players continue to provide support and feedback. You can check that Kickstarter out here.