Digital Buzz: Card Dreams

It’s been a while since I took a look at some games available on mobile devices.  There are a couple I’ve been playing lately, and I wanted to share them with you here.  In the past, when I’ve talked about mobile games, I have tended to talk about board game implementations.  Here, I want to take a look at a couple of digital games that are only available in the digital realm, but they still seem to take a lot of their inspiration from the tabletop world.  Let’s start off with

image from iPhone.mob.org
image from iphone.mob.org

I Keep Having This Dream is a game by Fireflame Games that was released in February of 2016.  In the game, you are dreaming a recurring dream.  Sometimes, the setting is different.  Sometimes, the path is different.  But it’s always the same plot – you are trying to reach an exit while being chased by a nebulous Nemesis.

In each world of the game, you will start out as a face in a sea of blackness.  You are then dealt five hexagonal tiles, and must place one to begin your path.  An arrow will appear that shows you which direction you must go, and how far you have left on your journey.  And so you start laying tiles.  Each one shows a path, and each has 2-5 exits on it.  Each tile will also feature several other things:

  • A green burst symbol increases your power.
  • A blue shield symbol increases your defense.
  • A red heart symbol increases your life (though you have a maximum that you can’t go higher than – it begins at ten).
  • A purple gear increases your control as long as it is placed on another purple gear symbol in the blackness.  Gain 10 control, and you will gain an item that upgrades your stats.
  • A black monster is a Snag.  Snags are your enemies.  When you place one, you will immediately fight it.  This will cost you power and defense, and if you don’t have enough, it will cost you life points.  There are other special Snags, but these all have different faces and abilities – normal Snags all look the same and have no powers.  When you defeat a Snag, it leaves a golden drop behind.  When the Nemesis consumes this drop, you gain it.  Gain ten drops, and you level up your character.

As you play, you will be able to add events that can give you a boost once fully charged.  If you don’t like what you have, you can always discard some of your tiles (but not special Snags).  This clears space in your hand, but also causes the Nemesis to advance to the next golden drop.  If there are no golden drops between you and the Nemesis, you will be devoured and wake up.

You will continue along your path until you reach the exit.  Each exit is surrounded by six keys, and you must build your path on a certain number of these in order to unlock the exit and leave the world.  Once you do, the Nemesis will advance all the way to the exit, consuming all golden drops in his path.  Then you’ll start over from a black screen.

As far as I can tell, there’s no winning in this game.  It’s a little like an infinite runner in that you go until you lose, and then you get a reward based on how well you do – in this case, you get keys that can be spent on new faces to play, new Snags to fight, or new event types.

image from iphone.mob.org
image from iphone.mob.org

There’s a lot I really like about this game.  I like that it’s a kind of RPG, with the ability to level up and discover new events as you go.  I like that you’re building a path, and I like the variety of enemies that you encounter.  The decisions aren’t terribly complex, and there’s some push your luck as you see how long you can wait before fighting a Snag.

There are some significant flaws with the gameplay, however.  The most glaring of these is that, every time you lose, you have to start all over completely from scratch.  That seems odd to me.  I alluded to infinite runners earlier, and that’s one thing they do well – you will lose, but when you do, you are at least able to upgrade yourself so that on the next run, you might be able to do better.  The only upgrades here, purchased with keys, don’t really help you out – new faces are just new skins for you to use with no abilities; new Snags just add another obstacle; and new Events may or may not be helpful if they randomly come up.  It would be much better if you could keep an upgrade or two after you wake up each time.  Or, maybe you could keep one golden drop per level you’ve attained, making it easier to level up quickly in the next run, making it less of a grind to even get that first event added to your lineup.

The game is slow and something you can enjoy without too much though.  I honestly do like it, I’m just hoping that future updates of the game will help with repeated plays.  If you’re interested, this game is available for iOS only and costs $1.99.

image by VGG user Jonny_Lenny
image by VGG user Jonny_Lenny

Card Crawl is a dungeon crawl solitaire game that was released by Tinytouchtales in February of 2015.  This one is a card game where you are simply trying to survive a 54-card deck.

The dealer for this game is a giant beer drinking monster with long horns who is named Hoerni.  Hoerni doesn’t do anything other than deal the cards, get mad if you win, or laugh at you if you lose.  You are an adventurer, starting off with 13 hit points.  If you ever get down to zero, you lose.  Your play area has your character card and three other slots – one for your left hand, one for your right hand, and one representing your pack.  Your right hand is where usable items are equipped, while your pack is a place to store a card you may want later.  Each slot can only hold one item.

At the start of the game, Hoerni will deal four cards into a row.  You must remove three of these cards, then Hoerni will fill the row again.  What you can do with the cards depends on what they are.

  • Monsters can only attack.  If they hit you, they will reduce your hit points by their value (2-10), then go away.
  • Weapons can be equipped in your right or left hand, or placed in your pack.  Equipped weapons can be used to hit monsters.  Just move it over one, and that monster’s value will be reduced by the number on the weapon.  If the monster hits zero, it is discarded without attacking you.  Whether or not you kill the monster, the weapon will go away as it’s a one-time use item.
  • Shields can also be equipped and provide defense against monsters.  If a monster attacks, you can have it attack the shield first.  The shield will block hit points up to its value, with any additional hitting you (even if you have another shield).  If the shield still has hit points remaining, it stays on the table.  If not, it goes away.
  • Potions are one time use things that heal your hit points, but only if equipped.  An empty potion bottle will clog up the space where it was equipped until Hoerni deals new cards, at which time it is discarded.
  • Treasures can be equipped or placed in your pack.  Wherever you place it, however, you will gain its gold value.  The spent treasure card then remains in its spot until Hoerni deals new cards, at which time it is discarded.
  • There are also five special ability cards in each deck.  You start with a basic five, then as you win games and accumulate money, you can buy more.

In addition to placing cards, you can choose to discard them (though you can’t discard monsters).  Discarding weapons, shields, and potions makes you money.  Discarding treasure or ability cards gets you nothing.  If you make it through all 54 cards without dying, you win and get to keep whatever loot you’ve gained, which you can then spend on more cards.

image by BGG user Jonny_Lenny
image by BGG user Jonny_Lenny

This game is pretty great.  I mean, it’s solitaire and prone to luck of the draw, but there are lots of interesting strategies.  Your final score is based on how much loot you collect, and the more cash you have, the more cards you can buy.  So a lot of times, you’re trying to weigh how much damage you can take so you can sell some cards in order to get that loot total up.  Some ability cards help with that, but if you’re playing in normal mode, the ones in your deck are determined randomly.  There is a Constructed mode where you can build your own deck, as well as a Daily Dungeon, a Deck Merchant, and a Delve campaign.

There’s not a whole lot for me to complain about here.  I’m not crazy about the art, but that’s just me.  The game itself is fun and challenging, and while I do win a lot more than I lose, it can still be a struggle.  This is a really good one, and I recommend it.  You can get the game for $2.99 in the Android or iOS App Stores.

That will do it for this digital edition of Boards and Bees today.  Back to the tabletop next time.  Thanks for reading!

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