After a year of being available on Early Access, the definitive version of Kards has finally arrived on Steam for PC users to enjoy. This World War II collectable card game has been developed by 1939 Games and draws its inspiration from other 1v1 CCGs, such as Hearthstone. Strategy, mental warfare and fortuity are crucial elements in this game, albeit from a military perspective.
In Kards - The WWII Card Game we can choose from up to five factions to play as, including the United States, Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Each country has its own cards, and you'll play with different styles depending on the faction you've chosen - for example, Germany has great offensive cards, but falters on defence. When you start the game, you'll have to defeat the other factions in order to unlock their initial deck. This way, you can always play with the army you want. Later on, you can also battle with France and Italy.
Your main goal in Kards is simple: fight for the glory of your country in different battles where you'll earn points to unlock better cards. You can play against the AI, but there's also a PvP mode where the fun really begins. In this mode, your main objective will be to climb the ladder and reach the highest position in the ranking. You'll be able to purchase new cards with rewards (coins) that you'll obtain in combat and you'll grow stronger with each card you buy.
However, just as in any other card game, the main point is the 1v1 combat system. There's something really positive about Kards: it's very easy to understand for CCG newbies. Logically, as new cards are unlocked, advanced effects will appear, so the difficulty will increase. Trying to understand how a game works - specially CCGs - sometimes makes rookies fold early, but this is not the case here.
Kards' gameplay is based on a deck of 40 cards for both opponents. At the beginning of each game, the players have the maximum health points for their headquarters. Of course, your goal is to make your opponent's health bar reach zero. You must start each turn by drawing a card. There are three zones in the combat area: those belonging to the two players, and the front is in the middle, just like in a real war. The cards have a cost to enter the game and to perform actions (attacks), and each combatant has a limited number of credits to spend in each round, which is the equivalent to a pool of mana.
Basically, the cards can be moved to the front in each round in order to attack your adversary's cards or their health points. There's a maximum of five cards that can be placed in the front. In turn, each card has really simple stats (attack and defence). This system is pretty similar to the one in Magic, for example, but it's much easier here. The novelty, in this case, is that, if you want one card to attack, you must spend one turn moving it to the front.
Of course, there are several types of cards, and not all of them serve to attack or defend. There are ground cards, air cards, and sea cards; each one has unique characteristics that make them special. For example, there are air cards that can directly attack the player or other cards without spending their turn on advancing to the front. There are also cards that, as if they were spells, increase or decrease the characteristics of your cards or those of your opponent, and that are instantly destroyed.
We have to highlight Kards' great design, which is one of the strengths of the game. The cards not only have exquisite and elegant drawings, but they also represent real troops, weapons and vehicles. Moreover, they include a detailed description that curious players will surely appreciate. In addition, the games have a military setting and the battles are accompanied by fitting music and sound effects that immerse the player in a bellicose atmosphere.
But Kards isn't attractive only for its gameplay, but also for its collecting aspect. Most factions have 92 cards - Italy and France only have 20 each - so there are more than 500 cards in the game, and unlocking them represents a milestone. Moreover, we have to bear in mind that new cards will be arriving in upcoming updates. Just as in similar games, you can buy card packs, so there are a series of micropayments in the game that can help you speed up the process - although the cards that come out are selected randomly.
In general, as far as we've seen regarding the battles, the matchmaking is well executed; you're usually connected to players whose level - and card power - is similar to yours. Thus, there isn't really an imbalance between the players who invest money and those who don't. You can progress and unlock a whole ton of cards by being active, completing daily missions and winning games.
There's also a really fun mode called Draft. Here, strategy and knowledge about how to properly build your deck are crucial. In this mode, you have to build a deck from a series of cards you've chosen, so the key is to select the best ones in order to find a good synergy. The draft mode is a good way to play more balanced games for those who can't count on all the available cards.
Another of the brilliant functions of Kards is the huge amount of possibilities that players have when building their deck. A deck isn't fully composed of the cards of a single faction; you're allowed to add 12 cards from an allied faction. This opens up many doors to strategy, as each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses, and so the allied cards can compensate what we think our deck lacks.
There's one aspect we think could be improved, though. Kards could offer more incentives to players in order to be more active every day, either through missions, rewards, or small tournaments. Moreover, with all the possibilities a historical military game has to offer, we missed some different game modes. The ones that are currently available (Training, Battle and Draft) fall somewhat short, although it's true that the game has just come out and it still has a lot of room to grow.
In conclusion, Kards is a great game for card fans, but it's also a good option for those who want to get a first taste of the genre. The title still has a long road ahead in terms of its continued development, including new cards and refined gameplay. Maybe, given some time, it could go on to become one of the essentials of the genre. To that end, this year the game will take a leap onto mobile devices, and so it will expand its player base even more.
Last year, the Kards World Championship 2019 took place - as you can watch here - even though the game hadn't been officially released in full by then. You're still in time to try it and develop a brilliant military mind. Good luck, general.
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