Welcome to the third installment of Journey Through the CCG Graveyard! Earlier this year I started out by recapping my CCG plays from September, and then I followed that with a detailed review of the Tomb Raider CCG. And today is going to be another recapping post, talking about first impressions of the games I’ve played since that first post.
In the past few months I have played six different CCGs, five of which were new-to-me dead CCGs: Anachronism, Harry Potter TCG, MegaMan NT Warrior, Mythos, Tomb Raider (which I have reviewed, but will still discuss briefly here!), and Vs System. Because of the lengthy list of games to cover this time, I will cut to the chase and dive right into my impressions based upon the plays I will opt to take the approach of discussing them in alphabetical order:
The first game discussed is also the one I’ve played most recently. I picked up a trio of starters on eBay at an incredible bargain, including the starter I was most excited to try: William Wallace vs. Joan of Arc. That was the starter my friend and I used during a trio of games this month to close out an evening of playing games. Between the small decks, the brief overhead of rules, and the quick gameplay we were able to get in more plays than expected. He chose Joan of Arc, leaving me with my preferred choice (thank you, Braveheart, for making me excited to play as William Wallace!) It quickly became apparent that this game will typically have two qualities in most games: you cannot count on the game lasting long enough to utilize all four cards, and the order in which you play said cards can make a world of difference.
Yes, dice play a big factor in the game. Rolling doubles can bring about a swift change in the momentum of the game. However, the fast pace of the game is actually somewhat of a strength for Anachronism. Like some of the other non-CCGs I have played and enjoyed this year, it provides a nice blend of tactical elements with one heavy strategic area (the order to place the cards) where you need to figure out not just what you want to accomplish, but also how to potentially counter your opponents’ decisions (assuming you can learn what they do which, by the 2nd game, we were trying to think one step ahead in that clever mind-game). Going first in the opening round feels like a very strong disadvantage, as most of the actions are spent on positioning rather than attacking. The biggest issue I have with the game doesn’t involve the randomness, but rather having a player take all of their actions and then the other person takes all of their actions. Surviving 3 consecutive attacks, even from half health, is never a guarantee based on die rolls. Nothing is worse than knowing you might not survive to take out that last point of health they had left, and there isn’t a thing you can do to change that apart from roll high on your defense. Our final game came down to my holding a 4-1 advantage on health, surviving his attack only to whiff on all three of my attacks and watch him get to go first in the final round based on having the higher Experience, finishing me off when I had him beat. Still, this is a game we’re pulling back out next week when we meet again, this time with other decks (I’m itching to play as Beowulf!) and to do some of the easy deck construction with the small pool of cards I have. There’s a really high chance this will see a review before the month closes out if we get those games in next week.
This game returned to the table after picking up a decent handful of cards for deck construction purposes. I threw together two new decks, one with Nearly Headless Nick and the other with Minvera McGonagall, and put them to the test with my wife. Well, let’s just say the first game went quite poorly as my wife’s McGonagall deck drew a few useless cards I put in there by mistake. About halfway through my wife stopped the game and told me to fix the decks before she would play it again. Fixing required a quick change of lessons, making the Nick deck a Potions-Transfiguration deck and the McGonagall a Charms-Magical Creatures deck. After that swap, there were only two cards that needed to be replaced in total, and those were adjusted. A few days later we had a rematch, and her deck completely trampled me. I couldn’t draw direct damage spells or healing items to save myself from her growing onslaught of creatures on the board. Every time I took damage, the discard was inevitably one of the needed cards. A last-ditch effort turn allowed me to drop her down under 10 cards in her deck, but it was still too little too late. Her deck was able to frustrate me at every turn, although I imagine a rematch might not play out quite the same for her. Writing about this has reminded me that we’re a little overdue for that rematch, too, and this is the other potential review that could turn up in the very near future now that I’ve had some dabbling in deck construction.
I still really enjoy this game. The Adventures add a lot of extra take-that interaction in there to slow the opponent down, something that worked brilliantly against me as I had to discard my precious item cards early in the game and never did get them back. I still need more Witch and Wizards to build around, as the only other non-starter we have is Madame Pomfrey, who I don’t think we can effectively build around with the card pool in our collection. It also seems like there is a distinct disadvantage to not include Care for Magical Creatures in a deck, as the consistent damage they provide appears to be a lot more dependable than hoping to draw into bursts of damaging spells. The creatures also present the conundrum of where to use said spell cards. Without those to absorb some damage, it all piles on even faster to where that deck depletes quickly even with only 1-2 damage coming per turn on a consistent basis. However, the forced inclusion of those Magical Creature cards and Lessons would severely hamper the construction of innovative decks because it would consume at least 15-20 card slots in a 50-card deck in most cases to be consistent enough to matter. Hopefully expanding the card pool will present more paths to consistent decks than just dumping out creatures!
This little gem of a game was bumped higher on my radar thanks to the eagerness of the admin on the game’s Facebook page. He was trying very hard to build a little community around this game, and I used to play Mega Man games on the NES growing up so I was already curious about the game. When they announced a tournament on Tabletop Simulator, I decided to jump in and give it a shot since it would be just using Starter Decks. Over the course of six weeks I played a grand total of four games. Some weeks I had to forfeit due to a hectic schedule, and other weeks my opponent forfeited on their end. I went 2-2 in my games played, and had a ton of fun when I did get to play. Having a NetNavi with a 2-2-2 statline was pretty helpful, as it provided a balanced character to learn the game around. Some games I found myself envying the stronger stat on an opponent’s character, but after reflection this was a nice way to learn. Every match came down to the wire, and by the final game I was picking up on important nuances of timing for my cards, when to hold things, when to maybe wait a turn or two instead of Blasting immediately when I could, and more. Like Anachronism and Harry Potter, this game has a relatively simple system to learn in order to get going on the game. Like Harry Potter, the objective is to deplete your opponent’s deck first, and any damage dropped causes them to discard the top card of the deck per point of damage.
And I really like the ebb and flow of this game. It has a fine nuance of timing, where you build up as best you can for a powerful turn – or hold onto things in preparation of trying to thwart an opponent’s big turn. It feels really good to drop 8-10 damage in one massive blow, and the decks are large enough that you’re going to have several opportunities for those splashes of spike damage. Since all I have played with, and all I own right now, are starters I can’t speak to the deck construction yet but I am excited to get some cards in the future in order to modify my MegaMan and Torchman decks and try them out here locally with some friends. Heck, I’d love to be at Gen Con to participate in some of the events being planned for the game. This one is high on the fun meter so far, and with the cards being relatively affordable for the game that should make this an easy one to at least try out some more in the future. Also, my hope is to get my series of videos created on this one by the end of the weekend, so check out my YouTube Channel for a teaching and a gameplay video on the MegaMan NT Warrior TCG!
This game came to me as part of a bundle from Card Game Geek and his eBay store. I was interested mostly in the Spellfire and Tomb Raider cards and this was thrown in along with some X-Files cards. Since this had a solitaire mode written into the rules, I decided to give it a go one evening when my wife was in bed. There seemed to be some incomplete explanations in the rules for some areas of the gameplay, or at least things open to interpretation to where I’m not 100% certain that I played it correctly (part of why I am working to make videos to teach some of these CCGs!) I tackled a lengthy adventure, pulling cards from both decks in the starter to make sure I had all of the necessary keywords to discover. And sure enough, the first play that was finishable (I restarted about halfway through to adjust the deck once I had a clearer idea of what I was trying to do and how to accomplish it) ended with a run of lucky draws to bring out all of the keywords necessary after about half the deck.
This one is a game I’m not completely sold on yet. The artwork isn’t my favorite, the mechanics feel a little on the clunky side compared with something like Middle-earth (another CCG where you are exploring various locations) and I’m not exactly thrilled about the “find the keywords before you go insane” concept of the gameplay. It might be more interesting with an opponent on the other side of the table, where someone intelligent can play cards to try and thwart my attempts rather than random chance for the card flip, and I do have a friend that enjoys the Lovecraftian setting. I fear this will be an inferior game compared to another Lovecraftian CCG out there (which later became an LCG), but I’m willing to give it another attempt or two before making a video to showcase how the game works. I genuinely hope the multiplayer version of this elevates the experience.
There isn’t much to state here that I haven’t already said in my review of the game, so this will be brief. Tomb Raider is a fun CCG with a unique approach toward things with the exploration of a map made from cards. My biggest disappointments remain with the near-impossibility of losing and with the inconsistent way in which trap or monster cards are going to enter play to interfere with the solo player – playing with another person (like Mythos) would likely improve that a little bit. For more thoughts on this one, check out that recent review here.
It was a perfect opportunity to try the game with a friend. We had Marvel Champions on deck to play that afternoon, but he was open to begin with something different. So I pulled out my Batman vs. Joker starter decks and he took Batman, leaving me with the clown. Overall, the rules for this one seemed pretty simple and straight-forward on the surface, although he had some excellent questions prior to jumping into the game. Once the game got underway, it became quite apparent that things were going to be interesting yet oddly balanced. Each round we would likely increase the number of resources available by 1, allowing us to either play more cards or stronger cards, so the game would follow a relatively straight path toward more powerful cards. And ultimately it felt just like that, with slight bumps in power from turn-to-turn until it peaked around Turn 6. Neither of us could maintain a strong advantage for long, although his healing ability when drawing definitely helped him keep the advantage enough to secure a closer-than-I-expected victory.
This game does some clever things, such as letting you play a card face-down as a resource and having two types of cards that want to be used as resources in order to be played later. The almost guaranteed increase in spending power each round helps to reduce the chance of getting screwed by not drawing the right resource cards a la land cards in Magic, and I really enjoyed that. Being able to deploy characters in a front or back row, with the front-line being your primary attack/defense units is really cool. And I love the concept of Stunning characters combined with the loss of Reputation (i.e. the player’s “health”) based on their cost as they get stunned. It felt, at times, like a clever chess match because it was difficult to maintain an advantage. Which might have been a fault of starter decks as much as anything…although these starters were really quite solid overall. This is one I really want to explore further, and my friend is now curious in the relaunch of the game. I am too, to be perfectly honest, as I’ve seen the market price on some of the cards for the game. For the cost of some of those sets of 4 cards I could probably get most of the 2PCG version that has been released. Regardless, I’ll be tinkering with this one and playing it some more with what I have and, perhaps, if I do get to try the 2PCG version in the future I can make a post with some comparisons between the games.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this. I know I am loving this so far, and it feels good to have time to invest again in focusing on some of these games. In addition to this post series, I’ve made a series of videos on Spellfire and the Final Fantasy TCG over on my YouTube channel to teach the game – find me as Cardboard Clash on YouTube and subscribe! And I’m already jumping in on the next set of videos covering the MegaMan NT Warrior TCG. And so tell me, are there specific CCGs you’d love to read or watch more about?
Notes on the Journey
Total plays (plays since last report).
Tomb Raider = 4
MegaMan NT Warrior = 4
Harry Potter = 4 (+1)
Anachronism = 3 (+3)
Final Fantasy = 2
Spellfire = 2
Mythos = 1 (+1)
Vs System = 1 (+1)
Ranking based on preference so far:
MegaMan NT Warrior