Collectible card games are all the rage these days, but this clever card game/strategy board game hybrid is one you and your kids can enjoy together. A common complaint about free collectible card games (CCGs) is their seemingly endless requirement to buy card packs and the randomness of their rewards, but Faeria just might teach a generation raised on free-to-play the benefit of paying for a game. Not that everything's unlocked from the beginning, mind you. You have to complete various missions to unlock additional modes and rewards, but there's not the "buy, buy, buy" feeling you get from games that depend on micro-transactions. This leaves you free to enjoy the cleverly-designed missions, which teach specific strategies while exposing you to AI opponents whose amusing personality quirks match their approach to battle. This is really some of the best teaching with tutorials you'll find in a strategy game, especially with the series of puzzle matches that set you on the road to understanding how cards interact with one another.
Along with making a CCG more accessible, Faeria succeeds in creating a fun, colorful world you and your kids can enjoy together. The graphics are vibrant and whimsical, the sound design is nice, and there's no offensive content to interfere with the fun. Kids will love earning and opening new rewards and tinkering with their decks before taking on a particularly tough AI or human opponent, and parents will enjoy not having to buy new card packs every five minutes. The game's DLC model means when you buy an expansion, you get all of it at once, (no randomness involved) and winning matches earns you in-game currency that can be used to buy cool-looking avatars and other custom graphics that show up during matches. There's a bit of a mild advantage in the DLC race when it comes to the Switch getting additional DLC packs for the first thirty days after its launch, but that seems to be more about building up the player base than giving that system a strategic advantage. The wider advantage is the inclusion of cross-platform play over all three systems, which significantly expands the competition that you'll face once you're up for a larger challenge. For console players just coming to this game, be warned: there are some incredibly good and seasoned PC players ready and waiting to tear through your decks. At more than a hundred hours of gameplay, Faeria is a great entertainment value, and a strategy game you can feel good about letting your kids play.