During today’s High Isle Chapter Preview event, the development team behind The Elder Scrolls Online’s next big adventure had a chance to share more about Tales of Tribute, the new card game taking Tamriel’s taverns by storm. To get the inside scoop, we reached out to some of Tales of Tribute’s designers for a breakdown on this new system.
Why a card game?
“The team is always exploring potential new features and quality of life improvements for ESO, and historically we’ve added a major new gameplay element with each annual Chapter release,” explains Rob Garrett, ESO’s Gameplay Lead. “For some time, we’ve had interest in exploring the idea of a tavern game. Something the inhabitants of Tamriel play for recreation and, much like Antiquities, could serve as a fun activity for adventurers looking to take a break from their usual escapades.”
The result was the creation of an all-new card game system, fully integrated within ESO, that anybody who owns High Isle can pick up and play.
Tactical deck-building with a twist
Tales of Tribute is a two-player deck-building card game that can be played against NPCs and other adventurers you meet within ESO. Secure the win by collecting enough Victory Points or gaining the favor of all four Patrons at once.
Patrons are a unique kind of mechanic in that there are four of them in play at any one time, and each Patron is associated with a specific type of card (like suits in a normal card game). And each of the Patrons, you earn their favor by doing various tasks – some require gold while others require certain actions or combos to be played. This is a big part of the strategy of the game where players have to decide if they want to focus on trying to gain the favor of just one type of Patron or focus on multiple Patrons. If players do not want to pay attention to the Patrons at all, they must still be aware that their opponents can gain favor with the Patrons to win.
“Tales of Tribute plays as casual, yet tactical turns, alternating with your opponent,” explains Irenio Calmon-Huang, one of the Systems Designers behind the new game. “Every deck draws on a story in Tamriel that helps form the backbone of its theme and mechanics. The gameplay is all about getting the right cards to form a deck that has synergy with itself and the Patrons, so you can reach victory before your opponent.”
During a match, you’ll acquire cards from the Tavern that’ll grant boons such as coins, power, and other special abilities, allowing you to continually improve your deck to out-play and, ultimately, out-score your opponent. The way you improve your deck will depend entirely on the choices you make in your turn and which cards are available in the shared Tavern pool.
“There are two paths to victory in Tales of Tribute,” says Irenio. “The more common path takes earning 40 prestige before your opponent does and then staying ahead for one turn. If they overtake you, then whoever can stay above 40 and ahead on prestige after their opponent’s turn will win. The other way to win is by having the favor of the four Patrons at the same time—achieve this and you immediately claim victory!”
Choice has always been a core pillar for ESO, and in Tales of Tribute how you play and how you win is entirely up to you.
Casual or competitive, it’s up to you
Make no mistake, High Isle will have no shortage of opponents to challenge you and your strategic deck-building skills. However, to get started, all you need is access to the High Isle Chapter and to complete the tutorial quest.
“You can play against anyone with the High Isle Chapter that has finished the Tales of Tribute tutorial with at least one character on their account,” says Irenio. “You’ll be able to challenge them to a match from your friends list, guild list, or in person through a new option on the interact wheel. There are also numerous NPCs throughout the world that can be challenged … though some won’t simply be waiting for a friendly match at the local tavern.”
Like Tamriel itself, your Tales of Tribute collection will grow as you adventure within High Isle and as new content is added to the game.
“Additional decks are earned by participating in a variety of activities including quests, public dungeons, world bosses, and zone events,” explains Garrett. “It’s also possible to upgrade specific cards within each deck by advancing your Tribute rank, completing specific achievements, and acquiring clues that help you locate hidden Tribute stashes in the world.”
In addition to earning new decks and upgrading your cards, you can get exclusive rewards for winning games, completing decks, raising your Tribute rank, and questing through the storyline – including crafting materials, gold, transmutation crystals, home furnishings, pets, houseguests, emotes, and more!
Coming soon to a tavern near you
In a first for The Elder Scrolls Online, the upcoming High Isle Chapter will allow you to discover a brand-new, in-game card game. With its astonishing variety of decks, cards, and playstyles, Tales of Tamriel promises to be a tactical-yet-approachable experience for veteran card-game enthusiasts and casual players alike.
The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle launches on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on June 21. Additionally, as part of The Elder Scrolls Online Free Play Event – available now – you can download and play the ESO base game for free until April 26 at 7am PT / 3pm BST. With access to the base game, you can play the High Isle Prologue questline and begin your Legacy of the Bretons year-long adventure. We can’t wait to see how the community picks up and plays this new game within the game.
Check out a gallery of concept art for the upcoming Tales of Tribute card game below: