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Review: Kard Combat for iPad

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Kard Combat for iPad

© Hothead Games

Category: Games - Board and Card
Developer: Hothead Games
Released: 7/13/11
Rating: Ages 12 and up
Requirements: iPad with iOS 3.1.3 or later

Download from iTunes

Kard Combat Features

  • Collectible card game similar to Magic: The Gathering
  • 4 different mages to play with 3 difficulty levels
  • Duel mode, Tower mode and Multiplayer mode
  • Additional opponents and cards available for purchase

Kard Combat Review

If you have ever wanted to pay Magic: The Gathering on your iPad, here is your chance. Kard Combat delivers the same type of collectible card game play wrapped around a loose story and adequate (if not great) game play mechanics. And if it seems to take a lot of inspiration from Magic: The Gathering, it should: Richard Garfield, creator of the popular card game, lent his vision to the game.

According to the game, The Kard is an elite order of wealthy magi who use their power to rule over the Forbidden Kingdom from their Black Tower. And guess what? It's up to you to defeat mage after mage in the tower until you get to Master Mage Harkus.

Your first choice on this journey will be the type of mage you will play. You are given a choice between Holy, Death, Machine and Dominator, and each mage has access to Fire, Water, Air and Earth cards along with their specialized line of magic. As you might expect, the choice in mage opens up special tactics, such as the Death Mage's ability to unleash the succubus, a very powerful fighter who consumes one of your own cards when summoned.

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Your task is to defeat mage after mage, progressing up the tower until you reach Harkus. Unfortunately, you won't get much further than the tutorial-style mages before you'll need to purchase the in-game expansion to unlock more of the tower. And while the game has Novice, Expert and Master difficulty levels, the tower will still start you on the basic tutorial mages, which gets repetitive when leveling a different mage type.

Combat consists of playing cards from five columns, one for each type of magic. Each turn, you'll gain mana to be used on playing cards, with more powerful cards taking more mana. Cards fall into two varieties: minions that are placed on one of the six slots above your cards and instant cast spells that produce an effect and then vanish. Your minions not only protect you from harm, but will attack the card above them, and if no card exists in that slot, they will attack the enemy mage. It's fairly straight forward and anyone familiar with card collectible games will have no problem jumping right into the fun. And even those new to the genre shouldn't find picking up the basics a challenge.

It would certainly be nice to see a bit more of a game outside of the card game rather than just defeating a bunch of opponents in a straight line. And as someone who played Magic: The Gathering but was certainly no master of it, I found the Master difficulty setting to still be a bit easy when playing single player duels.

At its heart, Kard Combat shows a lot of promise with some subtle strategy waiting to be exploited by the devious opponent. And because of that, the multiplayer game mode could easily turn this game from a novelty that you play for a few nights and forget into a longer term obsession. But Kard Combat needs a lot of work to really exploit its potential. Key elements -- such as a pass and play mode -- are missing and the Tower game play mode is in dire need of both story and polish.

Kard Combat works on the freemium principle, so you'll be able to download the game and take a look around for free before needing to lay down money to open up more content. And it is definitely worth the download. Card game enthusiasts will like what they see, even if the game still needs some maturing to meet its potential.

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