By Jaime Skelton (MissyS), Senior Editor
If you’re a mobile gamer and haven’t heard about Cards and Castles yet, I’ll say it outright: you’re missing out. Those aren’t words coming from a long-time fan; no, I’m a recent convert of the Dark Lord Vontre – that is, the game’s developer at Bit Mass has managed to suck me in with a great game that has certainly earned its recent feature on Apple’s App Store. I spent some time at Bit Mass’ booth during PAX South to meet the team and learn more about Cards and Castles’ latest update and future plans.
Since Cards and Castles was new to me, the first thing I did was pick up the game and play through its two-battle tutorial. It’s pretty easy to see, from the start, how the game draws on its inspirations. In each battle, you take your deck of cards – drawn from two factions – onto a rectangular grid that’s five high and nine wide. On the left side of the field is your base, and mirrored on the right side is your enemy’s base. Bases are immobile but are the most important units on the field: they bring in your income each turn and also serve as your health for the match. If a base is defeated, that player loses.
Players can spend their gold income each turn to use cards in their hand. These cards, like in any card game, consist of a variety of units and spells, the later of which can be used to harm enemies or buff allies. At any time during their turn, players can use cards, move units on the battlefield, and attack. When a player is done, they can end their turn and wait on their enemy’s movements. The battle continues until one of the bases is taken out, and winning results in a few cards for your deck.
For beginners, Cards and Castles is a very friendly game. The card game elements are similar to Hearthstone: easy to read and understand cards, a simple resource system, and a central ‘hero’ to defend. The combat field, on the other hand, is similar to Tactics Ogre being very easy to pick up on for those less familiar with the style of battle. The end result? A quirky, fun game that’s easy to learn but quite rewarding for more hardcore players who want to dig deep into the strategy. And while the game offers solo campaigns, there is a real focus on multiplayer, which includes friendly and ranked matches either through live and asynchronous online play.
Recently, the team has launched a new update, “The Ancient Hero Returns.” The star of this update is Brynjolf, a legendary new hero that players can earn after completing a ten scenario solo campaign. Not to be overshadowed, though, is a major update to the game’s Draft mode. Similar to Hearthstone’s Arena mode, Draft mode places you in competitive multiplayer match with a random deck, letting you battle it out with only one walking away with epic prizes. A new option also allows you to see your stats in draft to get a feel for how well you’re doing.
If you’re stuck without a mobile device to game on – the game’s available on both Android and iOS – don’t panic. Bit Mass is also planning on releasing the game for PC and is already preparing its beta client – in fact has just started a new Steam Greenlight campaign. No matter how you play, though, Cards and Castles is definitely worth a try. With more interesting gameplay than Hearthstone (and less annoying audio), and a developer keenly interested in the game’s balance and community, Cards and Castles may be the next mobile titan of CCGs.