Monday, June 16, 2014

Card Wars: First Impressions

It's time to decide who will be the Dweeb and who will be the Cool Guy.
In my opinion, Adventure Time is one of the best television shows of the past four years. I absolutely love its sense of humor, its interesting characters, and its surprisingly well written stories.  I've seen almost every episode, have read most of the comics (which are excellent by the way and you should definitely check them out), and I've played some of the video games (which are less excellent).

Now that you know that crucial bit of context, it shouldn't be any surprise that I've been dying to try out Card Wars. Published by Cryptozoic Entertainment, Card Wars is a collectible card game based on the game Finn and Jake played in the third season episode of the same name.Unfortunately, since I'm kind of broke at the moment, I haven't had the chance to pick up one of the collector's packs.

While visiting my FLGS this past Saturday, I finally got the chance to try the game out using the BMO vs Lady Rainicorn Collector's Pack. Since I enjoy talking about these experiences and I figure there are others who might want to know how good the game is, I thought I'd give my first impressions of it.

Card Wars' rules are very simple and easy to learn. Before starting the game, you choose one of the two decks packaged with the specific collector's pack you purchased, place four larger cards called "lanes" before you, and receive 25 hit points. On your turn, you draw one card and receive two "moves". These moves are spent to either play the different types of cards (Buildings, Creatures, and Spells) or spent to draw an additional card. When playing Creatures, you place them onto one of the open lanes set before you.

Card Wars' Set-Up. Sorry for the somewhat blurry image. Blame my phone.
After spending all your available moves and playing the cards you wish to play, you enter the Combat Phase. During this phase, each Creature you control attacks the lane directly across from it. If there is another creature there, they fight and deal damage to each other. If the lane is empty, the damage is dealt directly to the opposing player instead. Like with most games, the player who manages to drop their opponent down to 0 hit points wins.

At first glance, Card Wars appears to be a very simplistic game. However, there is a surprising amount of depth hidden within the rules. Throughout each deck, there are a number of Creatures that possess unique abilities that activate once they've been "flooped", which is this games version of tapping. Combining these with your Buildings and Spells offers a nice bit of strategy without making the game complicated. I definitely tip my hat to Cryptozoic for finding a nice balance in that department.

While I loved the rules, there were a few things about the game that rubbed me the wrong way. I personally wasn't too fond of the little chips used to track damage dealt to Creatures. They were annoying to add and remove to the cards and I feel like you could easily use differently sized dice to achieve this. I also was a little disappointed that a lot of the creatures were recycled with only minor changes in art. This game is supposed to be based on Adventure Time, a world where almost anything can happen. I just feel they could have been a little more creative than that.

However, those are mostly nitpicks and I'm sure the second complaint will be fixed as more expansions for the game get released. Card Wars is a fun card game that's simple to learn, but has enough depth to allow some cool strategies to be formed and gives the game some definite longevity. I'm definitely going to pick up one of the collector's packs as soon as possible.