Why Prismata Represents Best of Poker, Card Games, Video Games

Published On: 30 January 2015 / Modified: 23 April 2019
Created By: Arthur Crowson

What’s the perfect game?

Is it poker? Or maybe chess? Starcraft?

Prismata is an upcoming strategy game that defies all attempts to define it by drawing on influences from an incredibly diverse cross-section of games.

It’s quickly garnered the attention of famous poker players like Mike “Timex” McDonald as well as professional video game players like TrumpSC and Kripparian.

We’re going to take a closer look at the game today and investigate why it could be the next big online game.

What is Prismata?

Explaining Prismata is a bit tough because it has elements of poker, chess, Starcraft and Magic: The Gathering in a package that’s never really been seen before.

First off, it’s a turn-based game that you play on a computer against other players.

It features virtual cards, like online poker or any other card game, but the actual cards are incredibly diverse and do a variety of things more like Magic: The Gathering. Prismata also has a vaguely sci-fi theme.

It has one major difference from games like Magic: The Gathering or online cousin Hearthstone, however.

prismata gif

While you create your own deck using a variety of cards in M:TG, in Prismata the cards are symmetrical, which is to say you both have access to the same cards throughout the game, which is similar to chess.

The one big difference from chess is that, although you both share the same units, they change every game, which means every game is different.

The actual gameplay has elements of Starcraft where you manage an economy to outbuild your opponent but it's obviously not in real time.

Mike McDonald
Mike "Timex" McDonald

Tying it all together is innovative time bank system (not completely dissimilar to online poker actually) that encourages fairly fast play.

If it all sounds a bit weird… that’s because it is. It’s the kind of game that you have to play for 5-10 games before really understanding how it works.

Why Are Poker Players Playing Prismata?

As online poker gets tougher we are seeing more and more hardcore grinders start to seek out games to play on the side, which haven’t been analyzed as much as poker and potentially offer more room for creativity.

Consider how much fun poker was in the mid-2000s because people were still innovating new strategies and figuring out different ways to beat the game.

Prismata is currently in very, very early stages so the ideal strategy in the game is still being figured out. There is plenty of room for innovation.

Mike “Timex” McDonald is perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the game (he’s actually friends with the developers who reside in Waterloo) and we talked to him at the PCA about why it’s so appealing:

It’s the opposite of poker. My view on poker is it’s a “so-so” game as far as what makes a good game. It’s a fantastic gambling game. But let’s say if tomorrow money didn’t exist I literally would never play poker again.


If money was not a real thing I’d have no reason to ever play poker again. And most games I play are more strategically interesting than poker.


Poker is only interesting because of the money being won. If I were living in a world where either money didn’t exist or I was a trillionaire, to the point where winning a Super High Roller, winning the Main Event, wouldn’t affect my life … I think poker’s not that interesting a game. I think Prismata is the most interesting game.


It’s a strategy game with zero luck. The way people would talk about it would be Starcraft where micro doesn’t matter. Or Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering with no RNG.


What my friends wanted to do, my friends that built the game, they wanted to make a strategy game where the better player wins almost every time.

How Do I Go About Playing Prismata?

Prismata screen shot

Prismata hasn’t actually been released yet and is still in alpha testing phase.

It’s already been successfully funded with $140,000 in pledges on Kickstarter but you can still pledge for a tier on the Kickstarter to get access to the alpha version of the game.

You can also sign up on their website and potentially get access for free. At some point the full version will be released but at this point no date has been set.

Currently the game is available for any computer that can run a basic web browser. No tablet support as of yet.

You'll find more information here.

Some Initial Thoughts on Prismata

We got into the alpha of the game and have played about 10 games or so. Here are our first impressions:

  • It’s a lot of fun! The learning curve is a bit steep at first because there is just so much going on.
  • The artwork in the game feels a tad bit unrefined but developers have mentioned the graphics haven’t been finalized.
  • Match-making is incredibly important in a game where the better player will win almost every time.
  • It's incredibly satisfying when you successfully outbuild your opponent and then destroy every single one of his or her units.
  • Loading the game takes an annoyingly long time.
  • The time bank system is ingenious and would actually fit well in poker because it rewards people who play fast.
  • The interface still feels like it's being perfected.

How Do I Get Started?

Once you’ve actually got the game there is an extensive tutorial that will teach you the basics like how to build units and attack your opponent.

Perhaps the best way to get an idea of how to play is this quick guide from the developers:


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Arthur Crowson 2015-02-04 15:47:41

Nice! Yeah it seems to be a bit faster for me as well.

Jared 2015-01-30 23:34:33

The devs apparently just pushed a patch that makes it load 3 times faster. It's been a lot better for me!

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