3/23/14: When I originally wrote my review, SolForge had a very strong pay to win aspect, as getting competetively viable cards without paying real money was a major chore. With the latest update however, the severity of that chore has been greatly reduced.
They have added the ability to trade in your unwanted cards for silver, buy single cards for silver, increased the amount of silver you earn from daily rewards, and perhaps most importantly greatly improved the boosters you can get for silver, giving more cards with a better chance for decent rarities (and thus qualities) of cards.
True, you'll still progress faster and be more competetively viable if you pay real money for the game, but it's now much easier to build a competetive deck without expending real money.
--Original review follows--
So there's 2 questions to ask yourself before starting to play SolForge:
Do I want to pay money?
Do I want to be able to compete?
If you answered yes to the first, your fine. If you answered no to the second, you're fine.
If you answered no to the first, yes to the second... you might want to go elsewhere.
Despite what some want to say in their reviews, SolForge IS a Pay To Win. Yes, you CAN get everything without paying a dime. You CAN build a competetive deck without ever spending money. But you CAN also get a publishing contract that turns in to a multi-million dollar franchise the first time you throw a manuscript at a publisher.
SolForge is a pretty nifty CCG, with a mechanic that can only really exist in a computer version. Every time you play a card, it gets better for the next time it comes up. Which is cool, but slightly gimmicky. If you ignore that quirk, it's standard fare:
Playing field is 5 lanes. Each creature played attacks the opponents critter in the same lane. Attack Vs. Health. If there's no critter, opponent takes the damage instead.
4 factions: Necromancers (Nekrium), Druids (Uterra), Elementalists (Tempys) and Technomancers (they're not as fun as the elves from Spoils do I don't care). Each deck can contain 2 factions.
Deck building is the best part of the game, and the worst. You build a deck of 30 cards and see how it fares against other decks. It's cool! And you can get the currency to buy boosters by playing the game? SCORE!
Except only the basic (3 card) booster can be purchased for Silver... if you want one of the larger packs with a better chance of good cards you have to either pay money or get lucky.
Outside of paying real money, there are 3 ways to get cards:
At 'achievements' each day you get a reward, which is anywhere from 1 card to a standard booster pack. These points are: First log in, First win, 3rd win (including against the computer).
At each of those noted points, and after beating players, you earn Silver, which as mentioned can be used to buy the 'basic' (3 card) boosters.
Tournaments, the first time you beat a player every day you get a 'tournament ticket', for 7 tickets you can enter a tournament... and probably lose miserably, but you get cards for playing at all.
Now the problem with this, is the odds of beating another player when you're on a free to play deck is ... not great, especially not early on. So when you're starting out, unless you want to throw money at the game, you're pretty much stuck beating the computer 3 times a day to get your rewards, and constantly trying to build a deck you can actually compete with.
It is a pretty fun game though, with interesting potential deck synergies and some cool cards. Decent enough way to pass the time.
It is also worth noting that whilst I consider SolForge Pay To Win, the price point of cards is not at all unreasonable. It is perhaps slightly high when one considers that they're entirely digital and if the game goes away, one is not even left with cards they can look at or use to play with friends.
A 3 card pack, with a chance to open to decent things is $.25 (or can easily be earned in game)
An 8 card pack, with a guarantee of decent things and a chance for awesome things is $2 (and occasionally can be earned in game)
A 10 card pack, with guaranteed awesomness (1 legendary, 3 rare, 3 heroic) is less than $12
(prices assume spending $20 on gold, spending lower amounts will lead to slightly higher prices, while spending higher amounts will lead to slightly lower prices)
If one compares this to a real CCG, one will find this just as easy to spend stupid amounts of money on in the hopes of getting the perfect cards for your deck, but also much easier to spend very little money on.