Card Hunter
October 18, 2013 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Take some old school D&D nerdery, mix in some Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy Tactics, and you have Card Hunter.
posted by chunking express (44 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

Considering how much collective time I've sunk into D&D, M:TG and FFT I am going to run screaming for the hills from this game.

Seriously, though, I listened to a review of it on either Weekend Confirmed or the Joystiq podcast and it sounds like a blast. They made a big point of mentioning that the designers found an innovative way around the whole thing where the best deck is the one with the most objectively powerful cards. Also something about an FFXII-style macro system?

Anyway, I'd love to hear more about it from people who have played it.
posted by griphus at 1:46 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

This looks really neat, as someone who loves casual games but is not a "gamer". Looks like this might split the difference somehow. Maybe I'm just easily lured in by great design.
posted by threeants at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2013

Ive been playing it on and off for about a month now and it is so so good. the design is really what makes it so compelling
posted by ShawnString at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2013

Card Hunter: requires flash 11.5.
Adobe: Adobe Flash Player 11.2 will be the last version to target Linux as a supported platform.

Fair enough, but mightn't they have told me that before I registered, created an account, and did the email validation dance?
posted by sourcequench at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Amusingly, I was sorta waiting to see what griphus had to say about it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's been some chatter about it on ye olde mefightclub as well. I don't play but I've heard good things.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:55 PM on October 18, 2013

So many games, so little time.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

All the D&D Nerds I know are pretty obsessed / happy with the game. And I know a lot of D&D nerds.
posted by chunking express at 1:56 PM on October 18, 2013

I've been playing this for a couple of weeks now and it is crazy addictive. Campaign mode mostly, as I'm TERRIBLE at multiplayer.
posted by saladin at 2:11 PM on October 18, 2013

Been playing it too, really fun, with a cute lightweight meta-story on top.
posted by blahblahblah at 2:21 PM on October 18, 2013

I played a bit of it back during the beta, and it is indeed pretty fun. I haven't gotten back to it since the actual release, and I hope to at some point; the biggest thing I ran into during the test period was that around, I dunno, level 10 or so it suddenly became kind of clear that having multiple very disjoint sets of equipment was a good idea and that constantly selling off all my extra equipment in favor of the stuff you currently liked most was shooting myself in the foot.

In Card Hunter your deck is not constructed from individual cards; it's constructed form a handful of items you wear, each of which is its own little subdeck. So, say, your wooden sword? Might have cards for three very simple, not very damaging attacks. You might find another beefier sword that has a couple of those standard attack cards and one big whopper of a stab; or another nimble-minded sword that only has one meh attack card and one goodish one, but for the third card a dash-type maneuver that doesn't attack but does let you cover some ground.

So putting together your character's deck is less about finetuning 40 cards one a time and more about pairing up a few different styles of play via your boots, your cape, your weapon, your amulet, etc. It's a really neat approach to a faster-playing, less-fiddly compromise on standard deckbuilding while working nicely with the traditional loot-based dungeon crawl metaphor.
posted by cortex at 2:23 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like this game. But a few of us on MeFightClub all hit a wall around level 8 where the game got harder and more grindy.
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on October 18, 2013

Well it's 4:30 on a Friday and I'm still at work about 30 minutes longer than I planned if that answers anybody's questions.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:31 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

But why is this a video game and not a board game?
posted by blue t-shirt at 2:39 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is pretty well done. I made a similar RPG system over the summer for fun, with a few key differences. Instead of having static abilities tied to items with their own sub-decks, players leveled up by building a deck of resource cards (brains, brawn and bravado) and picking perks every 3 levels (like increasing hand-size). Movement was done by discarding cards, with some classes getting more movement bang per card discarded. You played until you had an empty hand, and then redrew a starting hand of 7. Items came into play by modifying damage.

Moves were executed by playing certain combos. So a straight-forward melee attack would be executed by playing two brawn cards. A cantrip magic missile attack with 2 brain cards. Players could also unlock things like reaction skills (parry to decrease incoming damage by discarding a single brawn card; dodge to mitigate all damage by discarding two bravado cards).

There were also mini-games for non-battle interaction, called checks. You would engage in a speech check by shuffling your characters deck, and seeing if you could draw 3 speech cards within 4 pulls from the deck (more or less requirements for harder checks). I also toyed with the idea of having favor cards (probably available at set intervals throughout the adventure, like whenever you rested) which provide a one-off boost to a check, representing the favor of the God that the player worships.

I never actually got around to prototyping it, but playing this makes me think I should... I really like how it feels, and I think my own system would be different enough to be interesting.
posted by codacorolla at 2:46 PM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Considering how much collective time I've sunk into D&D, M:TG and FFT I am going to run screaming for the hills from this game.

Yes, this is the issue for me too.

It doesn't seem to have a "quit" button, I discovered, after spending five minutes trying to decide what kind of boots to get for my elven priest.
posted by clockzero at 2:48 PM on October 18, 2013

this is very good. worth the registration
posted by Bwithh at 2:49 PM on October 18, 2013

I played quite a bit of it a few months ago when it was still in beta, and my impressions then were:

- The writing in the campaign mode is terrible. Really awful. You can just ignore it, though, because it doesn't have any bearing on the game.
- The game's art is really nice. I like the aesthetic and it's well executed and I especially like the nods to old D&D modules.
- The microtransaction mechanics aren't particularly slimy. You can play without spending money and you never feel like the game is trying to force itself on you, but if you do decide to throw them some cash the rewards seem fairly substantial.
- Your ability to affect what happens in battle is really dampened by the randomness of the card system. At certain points in the single player campaign you'll encounter battles where you have to spec your characters fairly heavily into certain gimmicks to win (for example, against the troggs where armor discard and armor piercing are absolutely required), which is fine, but then even after figuring out the gimmick and teching out for the battle you can still just lose through no fault of your own because of bad draws. For example, when you're fighting the monkeys, you better pray for exactly the right mix of move and attack cards, or you just lose because either you have too few moves to constantly fix your facing and they get huge backstab bonuses or you have too few attacks to actually get any damage done after the dance of everybody playing all their move cards for positioning. There's also very little card draw, card selection, and deck manipulation, meaning that you usually have no way to mitigate the effects of randomness. I only played a handful of multiplayer matches, but I saw nothing to make me believe that this would be any less of a problem in multiplayer. Basically, the random card draws have a much, much larger effect on each battle than your strategy and decisions do, and there are times when a battle will be unwinnable even though you reworked your gear for the battle and came into it with a good strategy.

After I stopped playing it I never went back to it, so it's possible that they put some effort into fixing that big problem. Like I said, it's been months. Can anybody who's played the game more recently comment on the state of card draw and hand manipulation in the game, or what the trogg and monkey sections are like now?
posted by IAmUnaware at 2:50 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

But why is this a video game and not a board game?

It's certainly straddling both design realms, but it does a nice job of streamlining and un-clusterfucking some of the random elements and breadth-of-options details that would make for a very clunky boardgame; rebuilding your Card Hunter deck with actual cards and equipment indexes would in particular be cumbersome in a way that would I think be mostly unrewarding as a manual experience vs. the slick click-and-its-done flow of the video game.

The core combat mechanics, for sure, are very board-gamish and could work either way. And in fact the weirdest thing to me about CH (as in coincidence, not as in Hrmmmmm...) is how much it reminds me in its core gameplay of the actual physical board game my brother recently released, Attack the Darkness. Both are card-driven level-by-level dungeon crawls, both tend to come down to smart use of tactics and line-of-sight to make the best of randomly-drawn cards from constructed decks. But though they're riffing off the same core tabletop combat metaphor/experience, AtD plays to board game strengths and Card Hunter plays to video game strengths and they're both better for it.
posted by cortex at 3:23 PM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

what guys im still looking for a 13th age game wtf
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2013

I've just played through the two tutorial battles so far. So basically, this takes the options that you would ordinarily choose from each round of a battle map combat game and gives them to you randomly, as choices, a few at a time. If the cards dealt are truly random (those in the tutorial seemed to be a bit too regular for that), and those cards decide when you can attack, or even move, then IAmUnaware is correct, you could end up with all Runs or all Attacks when not adjacent.

How is card management handled? Are the cards in your deck direct reflections of what equipment your characters are carrying? Is it possible to reduce that number to make your hands more consistent, Dominion Chapel style, without having to tailor your equipment for it?

(For a long time I've had an idea for a random dungeon exploration game using cards that uses them in an entirely different way. Anyone interested in this should look up TSR's weird attempt to reimagine Dragonlance entirely using cards, "Fifth Age," which was one of the more interesting games I personally owned at one point that I never had a chance to play because everyone was eww cards.)
posted by JHarris at 4:05 PM on October 18, 2013

Adobe: Adobe Flash Player 11.2 will be the last version to target Linux as a supported platform.

Wow, really? And Adobe gives Flash another solid shove out the door to irrelevance.
posted by JHarris at 4:08 PM on October 18, 2013

I believe that it's not entirely random, for example you get a guaranteed movement card at the start of each round (I think the tutorial AI says this at some point).
posted by codacorolla at 4:09 PM on October 18, 2013

Attack the Darkness

Favorited for the Dead Alewives reference.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:23 PM on October 18, 2013

Ah, by "Tutorial," I meant the first two fights. I didn't know it extended beyond that.

While this seems interesting, the presentation is a little too slick. It sounds like Mario's saying WOO-HOO whenever I win a fight, and all those little music bits bug me. If it's supposed to be like old-school D&D then the only sounds in the room should be some quietly-playing metal and the sobs of Cousin Jimmy who just lost his fifth-level elf bard to the hard facts of basic existence in Generic Fantasyland.
posted by JHarris at 4:23 PM on October 18, 2013

Huh. I won a fight and got two new wands out of it. I equipped one to see what it did, but then equipped the other and the first one didn't appear in inventory but disappeared from existence. Bug!
posted by JHarris at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2013

Wait, there it is. I think the wand just looks like a sword (pronounce it like in Adventure Time), that tripped me up.
posted by JHarris at 4:31 PM on October 18, 2013

I believe that it's not entirely random, for example you get a guaranteed movement card at the start of each round (I think the tutorial AI says this at some point).

This is correct. Each turn when you draw from your deck, you also get a guaranteed move card based on your race (dwarves get a move 2, humans get a move 3, and elves get a move 4). Aside from that one guaranteed move card, it's just random draws off the deck, and you will see the dreaded all-moves hand from time to time. Eventually you can get gear that lets you fine-tune your move to attack ratio (like boots that give a move and 2 move-and-attack cards instead of just 3 moves), but you won't be able to reduce your deck size to make it more consistent; in fact, as the game goes on, your deck gets larger because you unlock more gear slots, and each gear slot adds a certain number of cards to the deck. Unequipping gear doesn't remove cards because the empty slots contribute the same number of cards to the deck that a piece of gear for that slot would, and the empty slot cards are all very bad.
posted by IAmUnaware at 4:47 PM on October 18, 2013

Yeah, after playing Dominion a few times with Chapel (three card decks!), that doesn't seem too appealing.
posted by JHarris at 5:03 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is still a hell of a distraction. Damnit, people, I have work to do.
posted by dismas at 6:27 PM on October 18, 2013

Okay I just spent about two hours playing this. I like it, although it's kind of really repetitive. I have two questions though:

-Is there a real difference between the races, discounting the guaranteed move card?
-What determines which level equipment you can wear? The level of the eq and the level of the character aren't 1:1.
posted by griphus at 9:02 PM on October 18, 2013

The races have different base HP values, and as you level (iirc around the 12-15 mark, maybe earlier?) you get access to a racial trait equipment slot with some unique cards for each race as well. As you might imagine, the human ones are largely about helping your party, the dwarf ones are defensive and the elf ones are movement-based.

You can wear gear of any level, but most of the higher-level or more powerful stuff requires power tokens. You start gaining a lesser (blue) one per level at some point, then at a higher level they start converting to yellow larger ones instead. They're not consumed by equipping gear that uses them, just allocated, so you can switch some items to free them up if you find a weapon you really want or whatever.

I found it got a lot more interesting at higher levels, when you have enough equipment and slots available to actually make some build decisions rather than just using what little you have. Unfortunately that's pretty much also the point where the current content peters out and you're lumped with completing challenges on the earlier adventures (eg, never losing a character or finishing it only with elves). Some are pretty fun but I thought the majority were either fiddly to the point where I couldn't be bothered (everything involving lower-level adventures, as it scales you down to a level where you had no power tokens and you have to piss around switching all your gear for the aforementioned less-interesting, fewer-options-having stuff) or involved grinding to level extra characters (the all-dwaves/all-wizards etc challenges). Which is why I haven't touched it for a couple of weeks.
posted by emmtee at 10:46 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

After playing it for a couple hours, it's like heroin but cheaper, so yeah.

For the random draws, what I found was helpful was stacking my cleric with extra draw buff cards which can be applied to other characters, and the trait cards seem to let you pull one of the corresponding attack cards on play. But I'm only at level six or so.
posted by klangklangston at 1:14 AM on October 19, 2013



Yeah, the annoyance level of this game is a bit too high for me I'm afraid, back to Fez.
posted by JHarris at 3:38 AM on October 19, 2013

I want to love this but having no ability to balance how many attacks I have in my character's decks against the number of move and armor cards is making the game frustrating and unplayable. When you succeed it often feels like you're getting lucky in spite of the mechanics being stacked against you.

If they can fix that one flaw, they'll have something awesome, something potentially enduring. It has that mix of depth and simplicity that really hooks me.
posted by joegester at 7:02 AM on October 19, 2013

It reminds me a lot about D&D 3E, except you don't get to decide what most of your moves are and it cares about facing. So I don't know about enduring, even if they fixed that flaw the game seems too bland and... evenly spread out? to last.

What do I mean by that? Well, I spend some time flipping through the items I could equip, and was struck by how hard it was to tell which ones were better than others, both generally but also for specific situations, other than obviously bad ones and some of the Cleric items where you are obviously choosing between heals and attacks.

When choices don't stand out from others and tell you "Hey, pick me if you want [X]," that's a sign, I feel, where the designers didn't want to make bold options available, either because they want to save those for higher levels (so, pay your dues if you want to have fun) or because they don't want to risk unbalancing the game (meaning the design is brittle).

Also, there's that whole thing where a character gains a level and becomes worse, because they have a new item slot open adding cards to the deck, which even if you don't fill it will just bloat it up and make you a bit crappier. And most of the item types just put in three cards in a deck of thirty-or-so; that's like having a single Gold in a deck of Coppers, most times, in a game where in a single battle each character probably won't even see half his deck by the end. (I'm not sure that item slot thing is true in all cases, mind -- I don't think side equipment slots like "Arcane Items," whatever those might be, or skills do that. If that's true, then sometimes players might actually be better off leaving those slots empty.)
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm reminded of 4th ed D&D a lot. Not a surprise, I guess!

The game doesn't make it obvious how you might switch characters in and out of your party. If you decide that hey, you actually want a dwarf cleric, what happens to the human cleric you already have? Can you switch back and forth between them at will?

I also wish there was a decent save option for when I want to shut off my laptop in the middle of a battle.
posted by rivenwanderer at 4:21 PM on October 19, 2013

You can save old versions of your whole party with the store/retrieve option in the bottom right corner of the party screen.

Unfortunately if you don't save , I think your party file is gone forever - happened with me when I forgot with a newly bought starter party in multiplayer.

Multiplayer is worth checking out. You'll play against AI (with randomized enemy party) if you don't get a human online partner.
posted by Bwithh at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2013

I've played through the first few introductory missions and I'm not liking it as much as I thought I would, given my experience with the tutorial.

As far as Final Fantasy Tactics go, the character building feels super constrained by requiring loot, and I don't have any real attachment to my party other than as a place to hang items.

As far as Magic the Gathering goes, I feel it has a lot of the same buy-to-win faults and none of the deckbuilding complexity. I agree with what JHarris said, that after playing games with no play-to-win element not having control over your deck is sort of boring and feels like a step backwards.

As far as D&D goes, it takes the less interesting part of role-playing (the stripped down strategy wargaming) but none of the good parts (playing a role, interacting with the environment, player interaction, narrative complexity influenced by player choice).

So, I dunno, lots of potential, but I'd rather just pay 30 dollars for a copy of the game and not have it held back by the design decisions necessitated by the cash-shop.
posted by codacorolla at 10:20 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been playing it for a while now (it's slow going because I want to have 9 characters [3 classes x 3 races] at roughly the same level at all times) and I haven't run into anything where spending money would assist me in any concrete way short of slightly better cards. I've gotten enough epic/rare stuff from just playing the game that I haven't even spent the pizza I got at the start for anything except reviving my party if I fail a mission three times.

Does it get worse later on? Right now I've got a party of 9 all at level 5 and I just started the first few missions on the second continent.
posted by griphus at 10:42 AM on October 22, 2013

Although I guess I haven't sold any equipment so I've got like 3-4 dozen pieces of individual loot.
posted by griphus at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2013

Griphus: yeah, I had sort of a similar experience, where it never seemed like I HAD to do the cash-shop stuff, but the impression that I got from a lot of design choices is that many considerations were made to accommodate the cash-shop option, and those design decisions are what's keeping me from enjoying the game more. Maybe that's just my bias against the IAP model of gaming, however.
posted by codacorolla at 4:42 PM on October 22, 2013

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