I'm in the middle of a two-week christmas / new year holiday, and thus have a lot of time to play. I'm doing a lot of World of Warcraft, but not all day long, so I have time for some other games. As a subscriber to Fileplanet, I got an invite to the beta of BattleForge, and it is interesting. BattleForge combines elements of trading card games with a real-time strategy (RTS) game. You have a "deck" of up to 20 cards, all of which are useable, but only if you have enough power and orbs. And the orbs, as the cards, come in 4 colors. So you start out with a color of your choice, and can only use relatively weak units which only need 1 orb of that color. Capture a second monument to build a second orb, and you can add another color, and play all cards that use either the first or the second color. And there are cards that you can only play if you have 2 orbs, the second of which can be any color, so now you can play those cards too. Lose monuments, and you lose the ability to play the corresponding cards.
You learn all this in a well-made tutorial, and then you are on a world map, where you can play various scenarios, which if you win them unlock other scenarios. There are single-player scenarios, cooperative multi-player scenarios, and of course you can also fight against other players directly. Winning scenarios also gives you gold and lets you upgrade your cards to more powerful versions. But if you want more cards, you have to either trade them with other players, or buy "boosters" with 8 random cards, just like in most trading card games. Well, in return you get to play online without a monthly fee.
The RTS part can be quite challenging, and through the endless combinations of cards into decks that are possible there is a big replay value. So if you are into RTS games, you might want to check this one out. Me, unfortunately, I get quickly overwhelmed in RTS games when the action starts happening on several corners of the map at once. So I find these games too stressful. But I recognize the novel approach, and think that this could become quite a success for EA. I hear they desperately need some of those.