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Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Kard Combat - the most disappointing iPhone game to date? (iPhone)

I can't tell you how badly I wanted this to be a great game; a collectible card game (CCG) on the iOS, co-developed by none other than Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering. With beautiful artwork and simple gameplay, Kard Combat aims to appeal to everyone. Unfortunately, this is its major downfall. Veterans of the CCG genre will laugh at the basic nature of the game while newcomers will find that there really isn't much for them to do in terms of controlling the game. What attempts to work for all, in fact only works for few.

Oh how badly we wanted this to be essential


Like any other CCG the purpose of the game is to battle it out against your opponent using the cards at your disposal. The basic package gives you access to four different types of “mages” who influence the style of cards you will have. For example, the Holy Mage uses healing more than the others, though there is a fair bit of overlap involved. Also in the basic package you are limited to fighting only five very basic enemies. And when I say basic, I mean “make a lump out of Play-Doh” basic. Furthermore, your deck consists of 20 randomly selected cards that fit into one of five mana categories. Mana is the cost required to play a certain card and each mana automatically increases by one per round, with players taking turns to select a card to play. So after the initial download, you'll have access to minimal enemies, a handful of cards, no control over your deck and no way to fiddle with mana.




Those criticisms are all written from the point of view of someone who has played a number of popular CCGs and uses them as a baseline for what makes a good CCG. To be fair, I need to look at this game from the point of view of someone new to CCGs. So the positives of Kard Combat are that its very simple to just pick up and play. The basic mechanics of the game are explained in the opening few battles and gives you a chance to get to grips with the dynamics. Having a limited number of cards means you have to be smart in using what you have, ensuring that you make the most out of your six playable slots. The artwork on the cards is impressive and there's enough of a taste in the free version to be able to convince some players to spend the extra $10-$13 to get the full experience. This means access to all the cards (120 of them) and all the enemies, plus a richer multi-player experience with a full arsenal of cards at your disposal.

The limitations on being able to control certain aspects of the game (which are generally taken for granted in CCGs) means that the emphasis is more on mastering the cards that you do have rather than buying booster packs to make your deck stronger. While this may appeal to some strategists, it will certainly frustrate others. All in all there just doesn't seem to be enough to this game, even after having spent the $13 to buy all the cards. I know I certainly expected a more complex, in-depth game that let you tinker with deck construction (at the very least), but to be honest you'd have to check it out for yourself to see if it appeals to you. This one's a true fence-sit for me; could be worth checking out but nowhere near as good as I was expecting it to be.

- Dom S



Review: Kard Combat - the most disappointing iPhone game to date? (iPhone)
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