Verses of Enchantment from Nachtvlam
Verses of Enchantment is a deck-building game set in a fantastical version of the 18th century. Combining an assortment of public-domain classical art with AI-generated poetry, Verses of Enchantment follows the exploits of a young wizard traveling the lands to learn all the ways of magic. In this world, magic takes the form of poetry, manifested in the game with various cards that together generate poetic outcomes. It’s exquisite in practice and makes for an atmospheric experience.
The story of Verses of Enchantment follows a wizard who makes a discovery about magic that goes against the socially accepted perspective. Forced into exile, the wizard raises a child and teaches them magic. We take on the role of that child, now an adult, setting out into the world to learn more about the ways of magic. On this journey, they encounter other practitioners and win cards from them, expanding their repertoire.
Map Magic: How to Navigate Your Spellbook
An overworld map is the main means of navigating and finding card duels. Other wizards wander the world and are visible as miniature circular portraits; they can be ignored or challenged to a duel whenever they are in the exact location as the protagonist. Towns, meanwhile, allow for the purchase of supplies essential for travel across the map, whilst particular locations like colleges allow for the purchase of new cards.
Character Study: Meet Your Match
Each wandering wizard has a portrait (classical art, once again) and a distinct personality; I enjoyed the various characters I met along my journey. Each character comes with a themed deck that matches their personality. A pompous jester uses a maddening deck to exhaust the opponent’s card supply. In contrast, a strong-willed but playful noble-woman uses an aggressive deck to dish out plenty of damage.
The card game is simple, easy to learn, and hard to master. Each player starts with two cards and draws three more on the first turn. Three cards must be played each turn and three more drawn, maintaining a hand of five unless special effects add to or deplete this supply.
Cards are divided into five categories: brilliance, ego, passion, nature, and gloom (white, blue, red, green, and black for fans of Magic: The Gathering, although the differences between card types are less distinct here). Cards can inflict damage or status effects, and any selection of three cards will generate a small burst of poetry.
The poetry contains keywords correlating to the aforementioned card types, and many cards have effects that depend on a certain number of type-aligned words present in the previous round of poetry, creating a cycle of preparation and action. The AI-generated poetry is often fun to read, but it’s just as easy to pick out the highlighted keywords if you want to focus on a quick game. Each wizard begins with a hundred health that must be depleted before the match can be won.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Verses: Aesthetics and Design
The aesthetics and design here are intriguing. Combining beautiful classical art with AI-generated poetry is a successful meeting of old and new worlds. The complex debate surrounding AI-created content is fascinating but beyond the scope of what we have time for here; suffice it to say that the application of AI poetry in Verses of Enchantment is an elegant one that compliments the broad selection of beautiful historical art festooning the game. Coupled with a charming and varied soundtrack, this all combines surprisingly well.
The Last Stanza: Final Thoughts
Verses of Enchantment is a visually stunning collectible card game that significantly uses public domain art. However, it doesn’t use this as a crutch, with superb design choices and lovely music backing up its setting and style. The card game is simple but challenging, with each opponent bringing a new twist to the action. If CCGs are your jam, then Verses of Enchantment offers a relaxing experience that is surprisingly tough to put down.