Buying packets of collectible cards has been around for over a century, but when Magic: The Gathering was introduced in 1993, the idea of collectible cards took on a whole new dimension. A fun game with a deep level of strategy, Magic: The Gathering set the standard for collectible card games. And with its introduction onto the iPad, it seeks to set a new standard for digital card games.
But Duels of the Planeswalkers isn't the only strategic card game for the iPad. There are a number of great choices for those looking to go beyond games of Hearts, Spades, and Uno.
It didn't take long for Blizzard's foray into the card battle genre to become one of the best games on the iPad. Hearthstone has a great combination of deep strategy, easy-to-pick-up-and-play gameplay and addictive quests and Arena runs that lead to opening card packs. Because, really, it's all about the cards, and nothing beats the thrill of getting a rare card. Blizzard makes excellent use of this carrot without pushing the pay portion of the freemium model down anyone's throat.
Duels of the Planeswalkers is everything a collectible card game for the iPad should be. It's a beautiful game with various different single-player campaign modes that will both introduce new players and challenge experienced players. It also contains a nice matching system for online play, so once you've mastered the campaign, you can challenge yourself against other players.
In the world of strategy card games, there are collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and there are deck building games like Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. Certainly, there is a fair amount of deck building in any good card game. But in an traditional collectible card game, you collect cards by either buying booster packs or winning them. In a deck building game, you use the cards in your deck to buy better cards, thus deck building is put into the game itself rather than something done between matches. This variation adds a new level of play to those who love collectible card games.
A kickstarted trading card game from the makers of Magic: The Gathering and Ascension, Solforge understandably puts in a few twists to the traditional card battle. One interesting tweak is the evolution of the cards. The game play of Solforge consists of drawing a set of cards, playing two of them and discarding the rest. The cards that get played evolve to the next level, taking on a more powerful form when the discard pile is shuffled back into the deck. Any fan of collectible card games will definitely want to check this one out.
Spectromancer will seem immediately familiar to anyone who has played Kard Combat. And for good reason. Kard Combat was based on the Spectromancer computer games, but without a full liscense to all the cards, it was only a subset of the game. With Spectromancer HD, the full game lands on iOS. They both share a common ancestry,
Both games feature five elements and a randomly generated deck, so you don't get to choose your strategy before the game begins. But what is lost in preparation is made up for in adaptation, as you need to know all of the cards well to succeed in the game.
Collectible card games have always had an RPG element to them, but Combat Monsters takes this to the next level. At the beginning of the game, you will choose your hero, who can be a warrior, archer or mage. And instead of having cards mainly representing creatures, spells and resources, you'll also have weapons, armor, equipment and runes. Coming from the makers of Great Little War Game, the tactical nature of combat comes as no surprise. Combat Monsters is great for those who want to mix the traditional game play of a trading card game with role-playing and strategy elements.
Shadow Era puts a twist on the standard formula for card games. Instead of playing one set of cards to build up a pool of mana and another set to use that mana, you have a single set of cards that can either be used to cast a spell or sacrifice to build your mana pool. The game has beautifully drawn cards and features a deck builder, allowing you to explore different strategies.
Another card game that has transitioned from your living room table to our iPad, Summoner Wars is a cross between a collectible card game and a traditional strategy game. Instead of having a deck that you play like a standard card game, you use the cards to move around a map, positioning the cards to ultimately give you the upper hand.
This sequel to Orions: Legend of Wizards puts the standard deck vs deck gameplay as the combat system of a larger game where you move around in a randomly generated world and challenge different deckmasters. It reminds me a little of the MicroProse Magic: The Gathering game that used the same backdrop for the card battles. The actual combat may not have as deep of a tactical feel as some of the other collectible card games, but the game as a whole is a nice distraction.
The card battle game set in the world of Star Trek takes on a different form than most card games. Instead of battling it out on a two-sided battlefield, game play happens on a grid. Each card has four point values, one for each side, and not only do you need to match the strength of your card against your opponent's weakness to ensure victory, you also need to know how the board will play out in the future.
Star Trek Rivals may not be the card game you want to invest a lot of cash into building the best deck, but it can be a fun diversion for Star Trek fans. The game is based on the Star Trek franchise reboot.