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This digital deck-builder about life in a travelling circus is having a free open beta

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The Amazing American Circus is a digital deck-builder about—you guessed it—a circus: Specifically, a circus traveling across the US in the late 19th century. You'll expand and upgrade your show as you follow the open road from town to town, while squaring off against an array of opponents including rival ringmasters and characters drawn from American history and folklore, like Nikola Tesla and Bigfoot. Your ultimate goal: To perform in front of president Teddy Roosevelt and his royal guest, Queen Victoria, and vie for a shot at a grand tour across Europe.

It's a big premise, and a little unusual—at first glance it looks like a blend of Hearthstone, Darkest Dungeon, and Where the Water Tastes Like Wine—but I think it also looks quite promising as a more narrative-focused take on CCGs. The good news for anyone similarly intrigued is that you can give it a shot right now, for free, courtesy of the open beta that kicked off today. Just journey around to the Steam page and mash the "request access" button, and you'll be in.

The beta includes the first of four regions available in The Amazing American Circus, with multiple paths across the map and a variety of region-specific quests to complete and artists to hire. The only restriction in the beta build is that you'll be limited to 21 Fame Stars, which help you progress through the game and face tougher opponents. (I imagine that will be more relevant in the full game than the single-region beta anyway.)

The Amazing American Circus is set to go into full release on August 12. Find out more at theamazingamericancircus.com, or just sit back and enjoy more than 20 minutes of gameplay below.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.