Hands-on Impressions: Card Hunter

by: Jeremy -
More On: Card Hunter
Back at PAX, in addition to all of the big-name and blockbuster titles headed to consoles, there was an obscure little Flash game known as Card Hunter from the developers at Blue Manchu. The game may not be as well known as other titles being shown off at the event, but it deserves every bit of the attention! The game is a combination RPG / deck building / table top game, played out in your browser window. Although I didn’t make it out to PAX this year and try out the game at the show, I have been fortunate to spend the last couple of weeks with the demo that was shown at the show. What I found was a game that was as addictive as it was charming and something that could be even bigger than the developers imagine.

Head on over to the next page to learn why this just might be my new addiction when Card Hunter finally launches.

Being someone who appreciates a good table top or card game as much as video games, Card Hunter satisfies the urges I have for both. It is a very simple concept yet requires a heavy does of strategy and planning your each and every move. You are given a group of tokens, each representing a class of character. They are randomly laid out on a grid-like battlefield, similar to a table top board game such as Hero Clix, along with a variety of enemy tokens controlled by either the computer or another player.

Each character has their own deck of cards associated with them, which you draw a hand from (again, for each character) to determine what moves you can perform. These will range from simple to advanced attacks, movement options, and magical abilities such as healing or attack buffering. There are also a variety of equipment cards included in the decks which determine how your character handles attacks from opposing players. Each turn, a player can play a single card for a single character token; once a card is played, it is “discarded” and the turn moves to the other player.

Only when both players elect to pass on consecutive turns do you get to draw new hands to refresh your action options. This is where the game gets really fun, or frustrating depending on your position. Perhaps your opponent gets stuck drawing a ridiculous amount of equipment or movement cards, leaving them without any attack options. They won’t get a chance to draw new cards until you are ready to do the same; this means that you can pile on the attacks as long as you have the cards to support that strategy. Then again, it is very easy to find yourself in the exact opposite situation, direly wishing you could draw new cards but your opponents is still holding viable play options in their hand and inhibiting you from doing so.

While the gameplay plays out as I have described above, you have a chance to shape the course of the battles through strategic deck building prior to the match. You can pick and choose the cards that will stock your character’s decks. The more that you play, the more cards that you will discover and unlock, making your options more varied and effective. The element of actual card collecting is very strong with Card Hunter and will tie into that desire to “collect them all” that many of us have.

The two-level demo that I have been playing (over and over mind you), gives an example of two types of battles: one against a legion of creatures and one against a giant boss. Both battles required different strategies and showed off just how varied the gameplay can be. When I faced off against the multiple opponents, it turned into a game of cat and mouse; my characters were easily stronger than any of the opponents, but they had twice as many troops as I did and liked to team up on my guys. I had to make really good use of my characters’ movement in conjunction with long range attack abilities to both catch those that were on the run and keep myself from being overwhelemd by their sheer numbers.

The boss battle however, played out like a strategic RPG battle. The giant dragon that I faced could easily wipe out one of my characters in just a few short turns, so it became important to remain mobile and stick to a defined strategy. My supporting characters had to be kept at a safe distance, far enough to avoid being slaughtered yet close enough to assist my attackers who stayed entrenched in the battle. In the end, I only lost 1 of my 3 and slayed that giant beast to claim my rewards.

Yes, I did saw rewards! Winning battles and matches earns you random awards in the vain of new cards and equipment which effect the strength of some of your cards. The sheer amount of options that appear to be available mind-boggling, even though limited in this brief demo. I have yet to mention the best part of this all: Card Hunter is going to be a free game! The full game won’t be a simple battle however, but you will be able to explore these isometric dungeons and search for new loot and cards. You will also be able to battle it out against other player-controlled teams of characters using your custom deck builds.

Although still a ways from being completed, Card Hunter is a fantastic adventure already and I cannot wait to play the full version when it launches. If you want to learn more about the game and follow its progress up until its release you can head over to the game’s official website. You can even sign up for the beta for a chance to play the game yourself. If you enjoy card collecting games like Magic the Gathering and RPG / dungeon crawling adventures, Card Hunter is definitely for you!
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