Next we take a look at games which combine card collecting with other genres like strategy board games, tower defense, dungeon crawling and good old fashion fighting to enhance the gaming experience.

Newsfeedicon_Facebook_teaserWorld Zombination
by Proletariat

Proletariat is taking a pretty big departure from word games and interactive sloths for their upcoming massively multiplayer faction-based strategy game World Zombination.

It’s the age-old struggle of humans vs. zombies and you get to decide which team you’ll be batting for. If you are the zombies, you can spawn huge World War Z-sized hordes of zombies and let them wreak havoc on the city. However, your undead army isn’t just limited to mindless grunts. The game features a whole slew of cool zombie types each with their own special abilities. There are strong units which can take a lot of damage, or ranged units that can leave damage. There are zombies that can convert downed humans into more zombies, zombies with flamethrowers that eventually explode and a whole lot more.

These special units are represented by cards, and you need particular cards for each zombie type to deploy them into battle. When you deploy a special unit you are actually replacing one of your existing grunt zombies with that unit. You collect the cards as you play which give you more troops to call in to complete missions. Aside from just your immediate local gameplay, Proletariat is building a larger communities among the zombie and human factions. There is a solo campaign as well as guild battles and more.

WorldZombination_040814_06Unlike with some other MMOs, Proletariat plans to have all players enjoying World Zombination in the same virtual world, so no need to worry that your friends are on another server. The hope is that by having players choose a side (team human or team zombie) that the global sense of community will continue to foster and grow.

I spent a some time with World Zombination during PAX weekend and I really enjoyed it. Ate art and design looks great and it is clear that a lot of work and creativity has gone into crafting the individual character types and their related special abilities. There is more gameplay involved than what may immediately meet the eyes as you try to decide where to deploy your undead army and what singular card or combination of cards / armies will help you survive the war.

When it launches, World Zombination will be pushed out to certain smaller markets first before a global launch in order to ramp up the servers and make sure everything is working properly (so in other words, make sure you have a Canadian iTunes account). I’m curious to see how the community grows and if there is an even show of support for the humans and zombies or if like me (everyone just wants to be a brain eating zombie).

675745574_512x512Toy Rush
by Uber Entertainment

Uber Entertaiment’s Toy Rush is a charming and fun multiplayer-focused tower defense game that features a card collecting mechanic for troops.

From RC Cars to robots, monkeys to jacks there are so many creative armaments for you to deploy in this toy-themed defense game. Or as Uber themselves put it “crush your opposition with cute stuff!”

Resources are handled via this rather cool collectible card pack system. Cards are acquired through card packs, with the usual multiple levels of commons and rares. The better level of pack you buy the more likely you are to get better cards which provide you an assortment of new characters and items which can be used to bolster your defenses. However no real money needs to be spent in order to acquire the cards and with a little grinding and luck you’ll get what you want.

Players start by crafting and arming their own bases with the likes of ray guys, rubber band guns and more, hoping that their defenses will stand up to attack by any friends who decide to try to invade. And in turn, you can try to take down other bases in a reverse tower defense style, sending your troops down the gauntlet like pathways trying to destroy enemy towers. The cards represent your troops when you are out of cards you are out of troops and must work to earn more cards.

ToyRush-7This means there is s nice resource management component to the game where you don’t want to blow all your cards on a single battle as you’ll need them for other battles or upping your own defenses. Finding the best order in which to deploy the different types of troops into battle will be crucial for the long-game. There are some nice strategical possibilities here that give the game a little bit of depth.

I’m excited to dig into this one some more soon. If you have a Canadian iTunes account, Toy Rush has been soft-launched in Canada and you can download and play now, otherwise you’ll have to wait until the worldwide release which is looking like sometime next month.


Toy Rush
Uber Entertainment

1_epic_arenaEpic Arena
by Shadow Masters and Travian Games

Epic Arena is a turn-based multiplayer strategy board game with a unique card collecting component.

The game takes quite a few cues from Hero Academy, so if you are familiar with that then you should be pretty comfortable diving right into Epic Arena.

Players deploy their troops in much the same manner and like in Hero Academy you can plan out your entire turn before committing to the actions, undoing moves as necessary until you’ve decided on the optimal strategy and eventually submitting your turn.

However there are a few notable gameplay mechanics which could make Epic Arena an appealing alternative for some and help it step out of the shadow of the game which undoubtedly inspired it. First and foremost are the cards and the games dual deck system. While sure, the main cards in your team deck do act just like the heroes in Hero Academy and you deploy them in much the same manner, the real fun comes with the special (consumable) power deck. Players get to select 5 cards from the power deck which they want to bring into battle, giving them some aspect of customization. However, once a Power Card has been played in battle it is removed from your collection. So you may not necessarily want or need to use these in every battle otherwise you will have to buy or earn more. Cards can also be crafted to power them up.

Epic-Arena-screenshot-6On each turn, players can take up to 5 actions (all of which cost the same). This can be any combination of attacking, moving and troop deployment (all with a single troop, or spread across multiple troops). And the different troop types have differing abilities, heath, fighting characteristics strength and more.

There are two possible endgame scenarios for battles and depending on your randomly generated playing field one may be more enticing that the other. One or more things called artifacts will be generated on the battlefield for each player, these are super powerful and take 9000 hit points to destroy (that’s a lot). The game ends when either all of one player’s team has been destroyed, or when all of one team’s artifacts have been destroyed, so depending on the number of artifacts which spawn, you may be better off just concentrating your damage on the lone artifact rather than trying to take out the team.

The Blitz mode is one of the real highlights of the game and helps mitigate the analysis paralysis that can happen with the unlimited undos when panning your actions. The combatants each have a pool of 10 minutes to work from and each individual turn much be completed within 60 seconds. Once your bank of time runs out, then on every subsequent turn the gods will intervene and start dealing 1000 points of damage to your artifact(s) until you either win the match, or are eliminated. There is also a fun puzzly, mission mode which tasks players with figuring out how to win pre-canned battle conditions with just a single 5 action turn by understanding and taking advantage of the special characteristics of the troops currently deployed on the battlefield. It makes for a good learning tool to help players become familiar with the troops.

Epic Arena can currently be played on Facebook and will be available on iOS platforms sometime in the coming months.

674210616_512x512Cards and Castles
by Bit Mass

Cards and Castles is a combination digital CCG and grid-based strategy game where players start by selecting one of four starter decks, each with their own strengths: Viking (warriors specializing in unit strength and knockback), Warlock (master of fire and shadow who directly damage targets), Pirate (love gold and have many tricks to weaken enemies) and Crusader (specialize in healing and card draw).

Then from those cards they build their own custom deck of 40 cards and challenge opponents to head to head grid-based battles. Additional cards can be purchased via random booster packs. These can be purchased using the in-game currency or with real money. The various cards / troops have differing amounts of health, do different amounts of damage, have different abilities, and differing ranges of attack and movement.

cards-and-castles_674210616_ipad_03Actual battles play out on a grid, with all deployed units having the ability to both move and attack on any given turn. The various units have a unique deployment cost assigned to them. The amount of gold you have available to spend on cards in each round starts at 3 and increases by one on each subsequent turn. This means that you will have to wait several turns before you’ll be able to deploy your most expensive units and in the mean time must manage resources and make tactical decisions on where best to spend your money.

The game is free to play and offers both single player vs AI and online multiplayer against friends and random opponents.

Download your copy of Cards and Castles below:

HoF_Screenshot_Beta_01Hand of Fate
by Defiant Development

The product of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Hand of Fate is a neat mashup of deckbuiilder and roguelike where players build up a deck of cards which are used to deal out the floors of the dungeon and combat is played out with 3D rendered characters. At the show, the game was being demoed on PC, but Defiant Development has a good deal of experience with iOS (Ski Safari, Heroes Call) and they have plans to bring the game to mobile as well. Though some changes may need to be made to the combat mode when it does as it is currently very controller-centric at the moment.

abc9fdcd06146d79f9cf744f94a13319_largeThe visual aesthetics of the game look beautiful with realistic looking aged cards. I think this would play very nicely on the iPad and offer a much different deck building and roguelike experience.

Also in my talks with Defiant’s founder Morgan Jaffit, he let me know that they are working on a sequel to Ski Safari as well. He indicated that they had tried previously, but the game that they had come up with at the time wasn’t very fun, so they went a different direction and they are really happy with how the new game is coming along. It will be a different game but keep some of that core that made Ski Safari so much fun. I personally loved Ski Safari so I’m excited for a true (non-branded) follow-up!

penguemicPenguemic – Word Domination

by Learn District

Finally we have the adorable and educational Penguemic – Word Domination from first time iOS developers Learn District.

It too is the result of a successful Kickstarter Campaign.

Penguemic is an educational defensive strategy game where players are trying to defend the penguins’ home from all sorts of beasts. The attackers enter from the right side of the screen and start marching toward your base on the left. Each has a descriptive name which is illustrated by the beast’s appearance. On the bottom of the screen are three unit cards, each of which contains any one of hundred words which frequently appear on the SAT, GRE and GMA, as well as a short definition of the word and a picture of a penguin dressed in a manner (or striking a pose) which perfectly illustrates the meaning of word. Players must deploy these troops to try to stop the oncoming beasts and once deployed, there is a short cooling down period before that unit can be deployed again.

penguemic_screenshot-2The design of each character, as well as their actions all help to visually reinforce the meaning of the word which that particular character represents. While in the frenzy of the game I must admit that I wasn’t always reading every single card, however I can see this still being a valuable learning tool as the more you play, the more opportunities you have to see these words and the visual cues will help to drive the meaning home and is more likely to make a lasting impression than boring old rote memorization.

Anything that helps make learning fun, or even better…make me not even realize I am learning, gets a big thumbs up in my book. I’m looking forward to playing this with my daughters when it is released as it’ll be a fun way to expand their vocabularies. You can try out a demo via your web browser by visiting this link.