In March of 2012, Minecraft creator Mojang and industry giant Bethesda settled a legal dispute regarding the use of the name for the former’s then new game, Scrolls. Accused of infringing upon Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls trademark, Mojang eventually ended the dispute by giving up the rights to using the name in subsequent titles; on the flip side, they got to keep the name just this once. Fast-forward 6 years, the game had largely been forgotten. Scrolls was born as a tactical strategy game centered around a collectible card system. Players battled it out using the game’s eponymous cards in an attempt to eliminate opponent idols. Throughout its long beta period, Mojang implemented options such as crafting, a “Judgment Mode” that allowed players to keep cards from a card pool based on their performance, and a Spectator Mode for viewing.
The game finally exited public beta in 2014, but by then, it had already been overshadowed by Blizzard’s own card behemoth, Hearthstone. Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, had envisioned a game missing from the market, a tactical card game that borrowed traditional elements from physical board games. In a way, he was ahead of his time; he was arguably the first to attempt at cracking this genre before Hearthstone broke it open and unleashed a flood of similar clones, such as The Elder Scrolls: Legends and The Witcher’s spinoff, Gwent.
After game development ceased in 2015 and the live servers closed in February of 2018, it seemed as if the book on Mojang’s second game was forever closed. As a result, it came as a shock to everyone when the developers suddenly announced a complete re-brand to the name Caller’s Bane, jokingly stating that perhaps they just “didn’t like the sound of ‘Scrolls’”. The game also shifted to a free-to-play model with the official blog stating that the developers had been working toward this for a while now. Perhaps most surprising of all is the inclusion of private servers. Users can now host their own servers and join others, and these include community servers. A few changes to note, however, is that personal collections of scrolls and decks cannot be migrated to community servers, so this represents a fresh start for both developers and users alike. The original Mojang account system, along with the friends list, has also been removed. However, server owners are able to control card and gold distribution as they see fit, so leveling the playing field with full collections for everyone is also an option.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasoning behind Mojang reviving their forgotten title, or why they decided on a name like Caller’s Bane. Only time will tell whether their clean slate will attract gamers that have now been exposed to many similar titles.