Card Wars is “kinda stupid” and “for nerds who do not know how life is outside of the nerd universe”– at least, to hear Jake and Finn tell it. But in reality, it– or at least, this video game adaptation of the game featured in the Adventure Time episode of the same name– is kind of awesome, and not as super-complicated as to require two hours to explain.
In fact, the basics of gameplay are fairly simple (at least, in this version; we can’t speak for others): You and a computer-controlled opponent each lay down four rows of varying terrain across the game board, then choose from various cards to place creatures with unique abilities (“flooping”) and feature-enhancing structures in each row. Your goal is to attack the other player’s creatures and land until their life points reach zero.
Animations aren’t as elaborate as in the cartoon version of the game, so there are no pigs running past knights to munch on the enemy’s cornfields before their eyes. Each round basically consists of each player attacking and defending after they’ve put their cards into play and, if they have enough magic points, “flooped” their special abilities.
What makes the combat fun, in our opinion, is the inclusion of a wheel with a spinner on it. On the attack, you’ll need to tap the screen as each row goes in sequence to stop the needle for a hit, a more difficult/riskier perfect attack with extra damage, or a miss. On defense, you’ll either fail to defend, successfully block, or go for a riskier counterattack. This part is completely optional and can be turned off in the settings if you wish, but we think it’s half the fun when it comes to combat rounds.
As you win games, you’ll progress across a map and play against other players. To do so, you’ll also need to use other Hero Cards you acquire, which represent the character you’re playing as (Jake, Finn, etc.) and have their own special abilities. The unfortunate part of this is encountering someone like BMO, who (true to the episode) “does not play such games… with Jake,” thus making the leveling up you’ve done to his Hero Card almost for naught right out of the gate– at least as long as you’re facing BMO.
Though the game is a paid app, it has a few modest ways to wring money from you as well. You can only play provided you have enough hearts to do so; the amount required increases as you go, and you can store more as well. They refill over time, or you can replay earlier levels to earn more, or you can just pony up some gems (the game’s hard currency, which naturally has other uses, such as continuing in mid-battle) for more.
In the end, if you enjoy Adventure Time and especially if you’ve seen the episode this game is based on, there’s a nice little game to enjoy here. It’s simplified from how Jake describes it, for better and for worse, so you don’t need to be a card-playing expert to get into it, either. Of course, being Adventure Time, it’s one of those strange things you either get or you don’t, and if you don’t, you might want to tread carefully on this one.