Friday, 1 November 2013

Card Hunter: A game about a game.

In between stripping wallpaper, painting and trying to move all my goods in eve halfway across the galaxy for our deployment to null, I accidently stumbled upon this little gem.
Card Hunter is a browser-based RPG card-game unlike anything I have played previously. The premise is that you and your friend Gary decide to play a game of his brother’s (the titular Card Hunter), do not worry, you are not magically sucked in to the game as it becomes reality. In fact the game sticks with the concept of playing a game at a mate’s house and runs with it.

The game may have a few tongue-in-cheek steriotypes.

You start by creating a single adventurer (and for once I did not call mine Brian) and go through some basic adventures. Each adventure is composed of a number of battles taking place on a board, complete with cardboard heroes and monsters to move about. Each turn you play a card for your hero which indicates the action you will take, for example a run card will allow you to move 3 spaces. Turns alternate card by card until both players pass in succession, at this point new cards are drawn and play continues.

The sheer range of cards and the abilities that they confer keeps play fresh and exciting as you never know when you may find that powerful card in your deck or have to think on your feet as you draw a hand of movement cards. The cards available are tied directly in to the equipment you are wearing and it is here that another level of strategy comes in to play. Your characters have a number of equipment slots (weapons, armour, items etc,) that increase in number as the heroes gain levels. You need to think seriously about the equipment in each slot, if you are up against a large number of weak monsters then you will want to think about weapons which add chop cards (which attack multiple enemies) or staves which add spells with blast radiuses to your deck.

Larry the Lizardman was in for a bad day at the gaming table!

Even going through the low level quests I have had to change my equipment (and thus my deck) several times as I needed more healing spells, different types of weapon damage and alternate support spells to succeed. This need for strategy ties in nicely with the loot system within the game, chests with random items drop at the end of the battle and better quality chests drop at the end of an adventure (series of battles). There is always a chance for that rare find even in the lowliest of chests and this helps to make every battle feel both important and rewarding. Excess loot can be sold at shops in order to purchase alternative equipment, although the conversion rate makes adventuring your prime source of new gear, with the shop supplying specialist pieces.

On the theme of shops, the game itself is free to play, but there is the option of paying to obtain the games secondary currency, pizza slices! These can be used to unlock adventures, different character models or to purchase club membership. There is the option to purchase a starter kit, which provides you with 11 treasure hunt adventures (each guaranteeing an epic item), a range of character models, some pizza slices and a month’s club-membership for the price of a mid-range game (about £20). Club membership provides extra loot drops on each adventure for the duration of your membership, similar to a subscription system.

That being said the in-game purchase options do not seem particularly intrusive or excessive; it is quite possible to play this game without paying any money and have a great time. The only real limitation is the lack of co-operative play, you control 3 heroes on an adventure and the setup seems perfect to all people to join your adventure and fight against the GM together. However this option is not within the game….. yet. There is a multiplayer competitive element to the game, but at this point in time I admit I am too absorbed on my latest adventure to attempt to fight real people. Apparently this village needs saving from some walking corpses………… How hard can it be? Cue repeated dying, time for a deck reshuffle!

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