Sword Girls Beta Impressions
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG MOBA Reporter
Sword Girls is a browser based lolli card game from Zeonix. The game, rather than using elements or colours for its card types, uses stock anime tropes. Darklore cards feature goth vampires and witches, with abilities mostly orientated around attacking the enemy as much as (in)humanly possible. Vita cards are a band of schoolgirls, with abilities that help them swarm an enemy down. Academy cards represent aristocrats and their maids, relying on controlling and disabling the enemy before going on the offense. Crux cards are nuns, knights, and other holy figures, who rely on a stalwart defense and cards that aide one another before they attack.
While there is a backstory to why these various cliches are battling one another, it doesn’t really enter into the game itself in any way, so is largely ignorable. I don’t really count this as a bad thing though, since even a mega company like Wizards of The Coast have been very light on bringing some of the extensive backstories in their card game universes into the games themselves.
Even if you’re not appreciative of the subject matter, the game does feature some great artwork for its cards. The UI is also slick, easy to use and visually appealing. The background music for the game, however, is really annoying and on a very short loop, forcing me to mute it within minutes.
The gameplay of Sword Girls is very simple. Outside of a unit cap, there are no resources to manage at all. You can lay down your most powerful cards right from the start if you so please, so long as you don’t mind them dying early on in the battle. The objective of the game is to use your various cards to whittle down an enemy character’s health until they hit 0, at which point you win the match.
Character cards act as both a player’s health pool and give free effect that triggers once per turn. Some of these cards only trigger if certain conditions are met, encouraging a certain style of play, but most simply happen without any way of an enemy stopping it.
Followers are the primary focus of the game’s strategy. These are creatures that are placed in one of six slots around your character card. They have four important attributes – Size, Attack, Defense and Stamina. Size is how much the card counts against the unit cap of ten, and also is the amount of health lost on your character when they die. Attack is simply the amount of damage that a follower deals every time it attacks. This damage is reduced by the defending card’s Defense value. What’s left of an attack’s damage hits the card’s Stamina. When a follower’s stamina hits 0, the card is removed from play, and the defender’s character card loses health. Unlike in some other card games, a follower’s stamina never regenerates on its own, so most games are battles of attrition while you’re desperately trying to kill enemy cards before your own fall in turn.
There are few ways to win in the game that don’t rely on a beat down strategy, so cards that simply attack a character’s health, cancel effects, take control of other cards, or otherwise bypass defenses are very rare and powerful. Most spells in the game are focused on buffing or debuffing followers on the table.
While the game is easy to pick up, it also isn’t particularly deep. Card placement is simultaneous, but attacks are not, with the turn order decided each turn through a coin flip. In addition, all the cards in play will attack all other cards in play unless they’re killed, so it’s not like you ever have to make hard decisions on what you need to take out. Which cards attack what is completely out of your hands, and appears largely random. The overall strategy seems to simply be to put down better followers than the other person and bash them into submission.
What is complicated about the game though is how you get cards. Most free to play models have some form of in-game currency that allows you get what you want after playing the game for a while. Sword girls, on the other hand, has you collect randomized objects after winning a match that might, perhaps be useful in building a card you want in the future. You can exchange useless resources you find at a four to one trade, but this has the obvious consequence that it can sometimes take four matches at best to get something you can actually make use of.
You could skip that nonsense and instead try and simply give Xeonix money in order to get the cards you want. However, you clearly are thinking of making things much too simple on yourself, because you are going to have to invest in buying booster packs rather than simply getting what you want. Advancement in this game can really be associated with simply pumping money into a slot machine, but instead of maybe getting some money back if you’re incredibly lucky, you get cards that don’t actually exist.
Sword Girls is a nice way to kill time, but it’s also a bit brainless, and built to be as obtuse as possible. I’d say give it a look when it comes out only if you’re bored at the office and need some time to kill.