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This week, we’re going down a different route. This week’s game can’t be found on Steam; it won&r...
This week, we’re going down a different route. This week’s game can’t be found on Steam; it won’t show up in the Play Store; searching PSN or the Nintendo Network will give you zero hits. This week’s game is Card Hunter, a browser game from the co-creator of such classics as Thief, System Shock, and Bioshock, and I could barely tear myself away from playing it to write about it.
Card Hunter is a free-to-play tabletop RPG that exists somewhere between Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and your favorite board game. In it, you lead a party of warriors, wizards, and other fantastical heroes, represented by little cardboard figurines on a board, on magical adventures where you face dangerous creatures in card battle.
Cards are tied to certain weapons, and equipping them adds the corresponding card set to your deck. Same goes for shields, armor, and magical artifacts. The turn-based battles play out on a squared grid, with players attacking, blocking, and moving by using cards until they are depleted. Once both combatants run out of cards, the turn ends and each character draws a new hand, ready to clash all over again.
One of Card Hunter’s most distinctive features is that it exists as a game within a game. The game of Card Hunter is one you play on a kitchen table with your buddy Gary, the Dungeon Master. Play is punctuated by clever interruptions that spice up the flavor and give a unique dimension to fantasy RPGs, like the pizza delivery girl ringing the doorbell to deliver a pie mid-play, or Gary’s pompous older brother Melvin popping up to chide his baby bro on his dungeon-mastering abilities. Although secondary, these characters bring a ton of charm and enrich the gameplay in a way that other RPGs have never attempted.
As for the D&D and M:TG similarities, they’re evident, but skin deep. Consider this: the creator of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, worked as a consultant on the game. That’s a huge endorsement, one that even mega-popular M:TG clone Hearthstone can’t top. As a result, the card combat is balanced, fresh, and easy to learn.
Due warning: Card Hunter is hopelessly addictive. The “one more quest” itch is near-impossible to scratch, and a lot of nights will be spent blinking at the clock flashing 3 AM, wondering where the time went.
Just make sure you stock up on pizza.