MetaZoo is a game you should absolutely try. If you haven’t already, you can find out why in this article. Learning how to play MetaZoo is the next step, and if you’re already familiar with any trading card game, you should pick it up very quickly.
In MetaZoo you are a caster, a commander of the magic and beasties from your spellbook taking on other casters in battle. To gain victory you simply reduce your opponent’s life points from 1,000 to zero before they can do the same to you.
Your deck of at least 40 cards is known as your spellbook, containing the cards or “pages” you use to cast your magic and beasties.
Beasties are the cryptids and monsters you can put into play to deal damage on your behalf. They are permanent – they stick around until something removes them from play.
Artifacts are also permanents, but they offer in-game effects rather than going to battle for you. They do have life points, so they can be removed by damage.
Spells and potions offer single use abilities, similar to instants and sorceries in Magic. Some can be played in response to an opponent’s casting, but most are played on your turn.
Aura pages are how you pay for your pages. They work like energy in Pokémon or lands in Magic. Using them allows you to “contract” other pages, which basically means to play your cards.
There are 10 different aura types, and most pages match one of those types. Alien Astronaut for example is a cosmic type. You can see in the top right corner the number one and the cosmic symbol, beside the beastie’s life points, the amount of damage it can take before it dies. This page costs one cosmic aura to play.
Aura pages make one aura per turn, so you can play Alien Astronaut as soon as you have a cosmic aura in play.
Terra pages are the final page type, and these define the environment the game is played in, such as Forest or Snowing. We’ll get into the fourth wall-breaking elements of MetaZoo shortly, but these pages can replicate a location should you need the bonuses that location provides to your beasties. Many beasties are empowered by a location that suits them.
Giant Salamander here is boosted by either playing a Forest Terra page, or by playing in a forest.
For more on how the individual cards work, let’s examine this breakdown of a page from the official MetaZoo rulebook.
As you can see, there are quite a few things going on, so we can just hit the essentials for now.
Card type is simple, beastie, artifact, spell, as we have already mentioned. Name is their unique name and aura cost is how many aura and of which type you need to cast your page. LP or life points is the amount of damage a beastie can take and strength is how much damage they can do in battle with the named attack beside the number (that’s beneath the art, in case you got lost).
The ability is any effect the card has beyond the basic attacks. Sam Sinclair here allows you to contract his named device’s without paying any aura, a powerful effect. He can also be fatigued, or turned sideways, to guess at a page in your opponent’s chapter – that’s their hand. You can see MetaZoo uses unique language, but you’ll get used to it very quickly.
Here’s a quick guide for Magic players to get you started:
- Spellbook – Library or Deck
- Chapter – Hand
- Page – Card
- Beastie – Creature
- Fatigue – Tap (turn horizontal)
- Awaken – Untap (turn vertical)
- Bookmark – Draw a Card
- Arena – Battlefield
- Limbo – Graveyard
- Cemetery – Graveyard for spells and potions
- Afterlife – Exiled
Now you know how the cards work, how do you play with them?
First, you draw your chapter – seven pages from your spellbook. Your opponent does the same. You can put it back and draw one less page if you aren’t happy – a mulligan, basically. You can do this until you go as low as a single page.
Flip a coin to decide who goes first and now you’ve got a grip of pages and are ready to get started.
On your turn, you bookmark a page and awaken the fatigued pages you control. Once that’s done, it’s time to do the actions you choose on your turn.
You can do any of the following in any order:
- Contract one aura page from your chapter into the arena awakened. Most aura pages have no cost.
- Contract a Terra Page from your chapter.
- Contract a Beastie, Artifact, Spell or Potion page.
- Use abilities on your beasties or artifacts.
- Move a face-down trap page (trap pages are a type of spell that can be used in response to another caster’s actions, they are played face-down).
- Declare an attack and resolve combat.
For example, if you have two flame aura, you can fatigue one to play Giant Salamander and another to cast the spell Fireball, which deals direct damage to a beastie, artifact or caster. It also inflicts the “Burn” effect, which means a beastie or caster affected by it takes 20 damage every time it or they declare an attack.
There are a number of effects and lots of aura types and I would definitely recommend reading the full rulebook to learn all of them as you play.
Let’s build on this example and say you already had another Giant Salamander in the Arena and you want to use it in combat. To do that, you fatigue your beastie and declare the attack. You must select a target from your opposing caster, their beastie, their artifact or their face-down trap page.
The opposing caster may choose to fatigue any of their awakened beasties to become a defender. If they don’t select any, the page being attacked automatically becomes a defender. From there, the attacker resolves attack effects, applies the weaknesses and strengths they may have and deals damage to the defending page.
If the defending page is not the original target, any damage dealt beyond the defender’s total current life points is dealt to the original target.
If the defender is not destroyed, it counter with its own attack, dealing damage back to the attacker.
Let’s show an example.
I control Giant Salamander. You control Alien Astronaut. I choose to attack you, my opposing caster, with Salamander. I fatigue the beastie and you decide to defend with Alien Astronaut, fatiguing it to do so.
My Salamander deals 25 damage, five more than your Alien’s life points, sending it to limbo. The remaining five damage is dealt to you, my opponent.
If a Forest Terra were in play, Salamander would do a whopping 75 damage instead of the 25, but lucky for you, that page is still in my chapter.
That’s the basics of MetaZoo. There’s a lot more to learn and discover about the game, and once you get used to the new language it’s a ton of fun. We highly recommend you try it, just click here to check out the range.