Does ‘Soul Card Master’ have what it takes to defeat this veteran TCG player?

iPhone
4
 

Soul Card Master

Publisher(s)  Nate Games
Developer(s)  Nate Games

Platform(s) Reviewed  iPhone • Genre(s)  Games • Trading Cards • Release Date  November 10, 2009 (updated) • Version Reviewed  1.0.2 • Price (as reviewed)  $2.99

Pros    It is a portable TCG  •   Cheap and self-contained.  •   Retro 16-bit graphics give the game some decent personality  •   It has a story that can be enjoyed or simply ignored  •   Easy to play with a decent amount of strategy  •   3 Save slots. Very nice touch  •   Card combining is a nice feature that can unlock new cards with ones already won/purchased    Cons    Virtually empty web page will turn off potential customers  •   Having to manually save at the main town screen.  •   The game feels laggy in some menus, but nothing game-breaking.  •   A host of translation errors in the game's text detract slightly from the enjoyment and polish of the game. Hopefully they will update the app and fix some of these grammatical errors.

 

I came across the Trading Card Game, Soul Card Master, when looking for something fun that would hook me in ways that real-world trading card games have done over the last 15 years. Having taken the hobby as far as owning a retail store dedicated to gaming and running events even to this day, I am typically hard to impress when it comes to new trading card games, but this one has some new features to offer that I was pleased to experience.

The object of the game is to eliminate all your opponent’s monsters that they play. The game is pretty balanced and there is a decent layer of positioning strategy for your monster cards. The unique thing about the game is that units don’t really have a Defense statistic, but have a Counter-Attack stat. This only comes into play if it gets hit but not killed.

Let me try and give an example.
A creature that has 5 attack, 5 Counter-Attack and 10 health would be displayed as 5/5/10.

So let us say that my creature is 5/5/10 and yours is 1/10/10.

I would attack you, dealing 5 damage, but as it did not kill yours off, you would then inflict your counter attack damage (which is the middle stat) dealing 10 damage to my attacker, killing me while you remain alive.
Damage remains until the beginning of the owner’s turns, so your creature would then be back at full health on your turn.

If you ignore magic cards completely, the game would be quite bland and down to nothing but luck, but it seems the magic cards give the game quite a bit of depth. However, there really is a lack of explanation on exactly how the cards work in the beginning. there is a brief exchange between characters when you select a new card that you hadn’t previously in the tutorial that gives a glimpse of what the card you select does in context or why you can/can’t use it at that moment, but otherwise you really need to pay attention to what the abbreviations mean and how cards you previously played that have similar descriptions worked.

Overall, the game play is solid thus far, the retro-style graphics are a very nice touch and it seems that Nate Games have put quite a bit of effort into making the game attractive in addition to being functional.

The game’s learning curve is average, and I expect that the battles will become more themed and focused as the game progresses, but I don’t see the game throwing unstoppable walls in the way as long as you are continually working to make your deck better.

I would like to have more information on the cards available, and I am sure some dedicated iPhone/touch gamer will make up a database (or else I will end up doing it myself later on down the road) but it would be a major asset to the game to have this available to players.

The game says there are 90 creatures, and 60 magic cards, but little more than that. It would be nice to know if there will be additional cards available in an update or expansion. The lack of information available on the official website is a concern for potential customers.

The touch controls are a bit unusual for those who have played TCGs on the DS, PSP, GBA or other consoles in the past, since you select the monsters and cards individually on the iPhone, while you would quickly use the D-pad to select what you need on a typical console, but this is hardly a detraction.

In Conclusion

Overall, I see no reason not to buy it for 2.99 if you are into TCG-style games. It has elements of Yu-Gi-Oh, some Pokemon (different elements/type combinations) a bit of Magic: The Gathering and even hints of miniature combat (positioning your characters to their best tactical advantage)

I think it just comes down to asking yourself: Do you like card games? Then $2.99 is cheap for a self-contained TCG, heck, it is cheaper than a booster pack. Within 3 or 4 battles you should have no issues with the rules, and will quickly be saving up gold for more cards. The game is a great attempt at a portable TCG, and hopefully it will lead to the development of even more high quality games.