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Raini: The Lords of Light takes the traditional Hearthstone-style, turn-based collectible card game genre and adds its own twists in an attempt to stand out—and it mostly works.

Crypto memes, multicolored gems, and other fun mechanics are at the core of this game with collectible NFT cards and its own token for added spice.

Developed by Raini Studios, the game is available via the Epic Games Store and is currently hosting an esports world championship with a $40,000 prize pool. But is this crypto-infused card game a real challenger to the enduring juggernaut that is Blizzard’s Hearthstone?

Multi-gems and crypto memes

At its heart, Raini: The Lords of Light is a pretty familiar competitive card battler. You start each match with 40 health with the goal of reducing your enemy to zero health before they do the same to you. You must use your deck of 40 cards to strategize your enemy’s demise.

Rather than each player gradually being able to play higher-tier cards as the game goes on, in this game, you must “stake” a card to earn a gem—a crafty reference to staking in crypto. By staking a card, it’s “burned” in exchange for a new card and a gem. You can continue to stake even once you reach the full amount of gems; in this case it’ll just replenish a gem of your choosing.

Interestingly, there are seven different color gems. The color of the card that is staked will dictate which color gem you’ll receive. If you stake a rainbow card, then you will be able to select which color gem you receive. The hero you choose dictates the starter gem you receive. As a result, the cost to play each card is expressed as a combination of gem colors, with gray gems allowing for any gem to be used. 

A lot of the cards in Raini: The Lords of Light reference crypto culture in some way. From the “Memecoin Mania” card which features Elon Musk and Shiba Inu dogs to Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson and even cards clearly referencing disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF).

Is that Snoop Dogg? Not exactly, but pretty much. Image: Decrypt

The references run deep, and when first picking up the game it feels like it’s screaming in your face that it’s a crypto game. Admittedly, I first found it corny. And, I fear that many non-crypto gamers will cheapen the gaming experience, possibly turning them off.

Blockchain games are often battling against perceptions and abstracting tech to attract non-crypto audiences, but Raini: The Lords of Light does the exact opposite. That said, there is definitely a crypto audience that will love the references that dominate the game.

Whatever you think of the memes, the card animations confirm how polished and thoughtfully made this game is. The “Blaze Dog” card, for example, spawns in a Snoop Dogg-like character who blows green smoke over your cards to buff them. And an anonymous figure with akimbo AK-47s appears when you play the Satoshi Nakamoto card. Again, they may be cheesy—but they look good and make the game feel like it’s jumping out of the screen.

Collectible cards

Even with that mentality, Raini Studios is creating a game first and a Web3 experience second, meaning that not all of the proposed Web3 elements are currently in play.

One of its first offerings is the RST token on Beam, an Avalanche subnet. This token is the “top-tier currency for RTLOL and future Raini Studios games.” Raini has a long list of future utilities in mind, including play-and-earn rewards—but currently, token holders can purchase in-game currencies at discounted rates as well as earn exclusives such as battle passes and collector packs.

Of all the interpretations of Satoshi, this one might be the strangest. Image: Decrypt

Currently, you can purchase RST by buying it directly, or try to win some by landing in the top 20 on the leaderboard at the end of a season. End of season rewards differ from season to season, but may include RST, NFTs, and more. As of this writing, Lords of Light is currently halfway through Season 1 with predictions for the next season to start in December.

You can also stake RST to earn “rainbows,” and if you provide liquidity for RST/MC (the native token for Beam), you will receive “unicorns”. You can then spend these rainbows and unicorns to enter raffles and auctions for NFT packs.

Some, but not all cards are considered “collectible”—a roundabout way to call them NFTs. You can buy them on the market, purchase NFT packs with Ethereum, or win them in tournaments. Currently, there is no utility of holding one of these NFT cards outside of entering collectible-only tournaments.

Distinct strategies

Crypto memes and colored gems give Raini: The Lords of Light a distinct taste straight off the bat. However, where this game truly excels is how each deck can adapt to a specific play style.

For example, dominating with the default Blue Alchemist deck is all about getting SBF or a Yeti on the board and triggering/buffing them with the freeze mechanic. Meanwhile the Purple Occultist deck is focused on playing Zuckazoid and buffing him by banishing enemy minions.

This creates interesting dynamics straight off the bat, giving you an opportunity to roughly predict the play style of your opponent. You can then play off this expectation through creating your own custom decks, letting you patch up weaknesses that you expect your opponent to attack.

Outside of the default packs, there are a lot of fun cards that you could create a custom deck around. For example, you can embark on a strategy that requires you to play a “champion” card from each of the seven colors before playing the Rainbow Champion, which will destroy the enemy hero—resulting in an immediate win.

A close-up of one of the cards. Image: Decrypt

Raini: The Lords of Light could have easily been a straightforward Hearthstone copycat with crypto vibes and NFTs slathered on top. Luckily, Raini didn’t simply copy and paste every mechanic and then sprinkle on crypto memes.

Instead, there are cards with fun abilities and gameplay mechanics that help the game standout in a crowded genre, making it one of the more compelling crypto games you can play today.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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