Kard Combat Review

Choose your destiny, young warrior. Summon your courage, steel your soul, approach your rival–and sit down for a nice game of cards.

Kard Combat is a battle card game that’s colored a great deal like Magic: The Gathering, but the resemblance is intentional. Wizards of the Coast has yet to release an official iOS take on the popular card game, so Magic’s original creator, Richard Garfield stood up, went to his forge, and did something about it.

The end result, Kard Combat, is a little cheesy but a lot of fun. The game has a purposeful Mortal Kombat vibe, from the stone backgrounds to the digital mage art, to the “Tower” option that lets you confront one rival mage after another and earn your cards until you finally climb to a final confrontation.

Klash of the kards.

If you’ve never played Magic: The Gathering, Kard Combat lays out the rules simply and cleanly. You’ll grasp them easily (and Kard Combat has three difficulty levels, so you won’t get destroyed on your first date). You play as one of four mages, and each mage lords over a distinct deck. For instance, the deck of the “Holy Mage” is packed with life-giving Holy cards.

Once you’ve chosen, it’s time to wreck your opponent. Both players have Life Points that must be whittled down to zero. With a few exceptions, each elemental-based card in the players’ decks has hit points, attack points, and mana points. Attack points determine how much damage each card can do to the opponent’s cards and life points; hit points spell out how much damage the card itself can take; and mana points tell how much mana it costs to cast a certain spell. Each card is parked in an elemental column that’s topped with mana points: mana builds slowly as the match progresses, and if you don’t have enough in your column, you ain’t casting your spell.

Try not to end up like this guy.

Kard Combat is not a difficult game to grasp; you’ll feel like the King (or Queen) or Card Land after you place few matches under your belt. However, you’re naive if you expect to rule the world with your freebie deck from day one. Winning battles in Kard Combat takes practice, strategy, and skill. If you’re determined to learn everything you can about the heart of the cards, Kard Combat has a nifty Multiplayer feature that lets you duel online over OpenFeint. This is an excellent way for newbies to nuzzle under the wing of an experienced player, and it’s also ideal for skilled players who want to wallop on each other.

Kard Combat is a free download, and there is substantial content to toy with even if you choose not to pay for the full package. Free or paid, though, Kard Combat’s visuals are a bit on the plain side. The card artwork is nicely done, though maybe a bit cramped on the iPhone’s screen (iPad was born for this game). The magic effects are not very impressive, but to be fair there are only so many ways to depict the pain and suffering of a rival’s card.

Magic enthusiasts might want to wait until Wizards of the Coast develops the real thing for iOS, but if you don’t mind something a little “counterfeit,” Kard Combat will scratch your card battle itch very nicely.

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