Cyber Angels vs. Demons... only in the 90's
Heresy: Kingdom Come. Last Unicorn Games entry into the collectible card product race was a critical failure with reviewers and players alike. In what was has to be one of the oddest mash-ups in the history of gaming, Heresy paired cyberpunk with a religious war. So why revisit the game over twenty years later? Heresy had a single unique component that is seared into the memories of gamers.... What was it? Let's take a look!
Lets get this out of the way upfront - Heresy is a straight up clone of Magic: The Gathering with just enough of a "twist" to stop Wizards from bringing an immediate lawsuit. Here is a crib sheet to get you up to speed:
Character = Creature
Aleph = Artifact
Enhancement = Enchantment
Celestial Power = Sorcery
Miracle = Instant
Aura = Mana
The 'twist" on the rules was instead of reducing your opponent's life total to zero, you accumulated "Tau". Whoever achieved twenty Tau first ascended to heaven and won the game. Tau could be generated by tapping an Aura and not using it to play a card. That's it - that's the big difference. Congrats! You now know how to play Heresy!
OK... Perhaps that's over simplifying things, but lets just say the game was very similar.
So what made Heresy stand out? It's production design. Heresy's art was far more refined than the art on Magic cards of the period. Drawing from a stable of superstars, Heresy featured art from the likes of Brom, Tim Bradstreet, Bernie Wrightson and James O'Barr. The art was featured on the entire face of long, over-sized cards that measured 2 1/2 inches by 5 1/4 inches. Visually it was a striking game.
So why did it fail as a product? What made it beautiful also made it fail. The cards were terribly hard to shuffle. Because of their size they would frequently jump out of your hands and go everywhere when you tried to randomize the deck. The extra card height also meant the game required a larger play area, making it not near as portable. Probably most detrimental to the game was that no one was making support product for the game - there were no deck boxes, sleeves or binders that could hold a collection. When you combined all this with the fact that it was an exact clone of a game that was front and center in the gaming zeitgeist, there was just no reason to buy this over its competitors. Heresy folded soon after it's release and only the base set was published. A second planned expansion "Project Demiurge" was never released.
If you are looking for an obscure game to add to your collection and play, I'd say this one is a game to stay away from. The physical downsides to playing this game are real. These cards are tough to deal with. They are also extremely scarce. With its small print run, and the age of the game you will be hard pressed to acquire enough cards to build two meaningful decks. I'd say if you are a historian of the genre (like me), find a couple of starter decks and put them into your collection. They are fun to pull out to show to new card game converts or just to ogle the art. As for play-ability, once the novelty of the cards and the setting wear off you will wonder why you aren't just playing Magic.