Pox Nora is a free-to-play, tactical RPG that utilizes trading cards to build decks of runes (warriors, weapons, spells) to defeat your enemies in a turn-based battle system. If it sounds complicated, I’m here to tell you it is and it isn’t. Pox Nora falls in that seems like a lot of moving parts that suddenly comes together in that lightbulb “ding” fashion. At PAX South, I was able to spend a little time with Desert Owl Games CEO Arthur Griffith and we talked about Pox Nora, the community and the game’s newest expansion, Ronin.

Right off, Arthur’s enthusiasm is infectious, and why shouldn’t he be excited, Pox Nora has been going strong for over eight years. He’s very quick to point out that Pox Nora’s success is a direct result of its strength of community. He says he’s constantly in the forums, reading feedback and joining in the conversations. Every one of Desert Owl’s last 3 hires has been from the community.

So, I asked about new people joining Pox Nora because sometimes communities like this can become insular and make barriers to entry for new folks to succeed. Arthur likened new players to being the “prettiest girl in the room.” This is a direct result of the faction system. Each faction in the game has certain decks associated with them and each faction’s strength comes from the human contributors’ success in playing for the faction. So, it really becomes a free-for-all to recruit the new player, get them hooked and strengthen their faction.

Focusing on the new expansion, Ronin, I got the sense from Arthur that Desert Owl was very ambitious in this release. With 60 new runes, a new map, a new campaign and now the ability to forge your own legendary runes, they really went for the gold on Ronin. Before, you would just have to be lucky and maybe a legendary rune would drop. Arthur says it got to the point there were runes no one ever received. So, with this latest release, you’ll be able to break down runes into shards and forge your own legendary rune to use. He said they also did an update to the game engine itself; that after 8 years, the engine was beginning to show its age.

Pox Nora is out right now. You can download it from their website or on Steam. It seems like it has a vibrant community and a CEO that loves his game and his people. And he still plays occasionally, so you can still find him and beat the pants off of him.