From developer 1939 Games comes a passionate endeavor to create an engaging and unique CCG (Collectible Card Game) experience. Let me be the first to tell you, it hits that mark. A history buff’s dream, KARDS sets a high bar in the genre with it’s innovative and fun gameplay, a staggering number of individual cards with varying effects and a greatly rewarding match system. Come along with me while we take a closer look at KARDS – The WWII Card Game.
Alright, so right away let’s talk about what stood out most to me about KARDS. That, my friends, is the level of immersion you experience whilst playing this game. Immersion can be a difficult aspect to nail for any game, but for a card game, that difficulty is raised even higher. The soundtrack and the art design mesh perfectly to create a very natural environment. The cards each have blurbs on them with historical information about the units on the card, and for a World War II history nut like myself, that was really cool to see – not to mention how much it added to the experience of making decisions while I was playing. From the moment you get into a game, and hear the old-timey music playing on the radio, and you look at the table and the design of the cards, it’s absolutely great. Every minute detail works together very well to build an engaging game, aesthetically speaking.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How does the game play? Very well, is the answer to that question. When you first start playing this game, you’ll pick your starter deck and run through the tutorial. Now something I thought was really cool, was that in order to leave the tutorial, you have to beat AI players from the main factions of the game, barring the one you chose for your starter of course. This is great, because it’s an efficient and effective way to familiarize players with the different types of cards and tactics available to each faction. After you finish up with them, you can begin the main game. There are a lot of options available to you at this point. You can of course jump right into a battle with another player, or you can dive into the deck building process. As you can expect, this system was given the same deep love in it’s production that the rest of the game was. There are a litany of combinations you can create and, as you progress, the game rewards you very well, allowing you to create your perfect deck very quickly. There’s also a very neat recycling system, which allows you to break down excess cards, and use the resources gained from those to create whole new cards. Card packs are rewarded when you hit certain goals and earn achievements, but if you’re the impatient type, there is a store where you can purchase them, either with your own money, or the in-game gold, which is also awarded for completing tasks and other objectives. However, this will never be a necessity to fully enjoy the game, and to do well in your matches. The game is excellent about rewarding the player, and you should have no problems excelling, whether you spend money or not. The game also features a fairly interesting levelling system, which sees you rising through the ranks of your chosen faction, seemingly peaking with the ever-enticing Officer’s Club, reserved for players who achieve the rank of Field Marshall in three different factions.
Now let’s talk about the matches, and about the different ways to play. There’s the regular Battle mode, and then there’s the Draft. In Battle mode, you’ll be placed into a match with another random player, both of you using your decks to best the other, the main goal in each game being to destroy the other player’s headquarters. If you spend too long in matchmaking, which doesn’t happen often, as the game has a quickly growing user base, you’ll be placed into a match against an AI player, where you’ll earn the same rewards as if you were playing against a human. Great consideration from the devs considering this is outside of the player’s control. Either way, you both start with your base hand, and as per usual you’ll draw a new card at the beginning of each turn. The cards themselves have a value at the top, which indicates how much they cost to play. As the game goes on, your max play points, referred to as Kredits in game, rises. In the style of Hearthstone, this makes the pacing feel very exciting, as you both get to throw out more and more powerful cards as the game progresses, giving it a really intense feel. Because of the way it’s constructed, all the battles feel very competitive, which makes for a great feeling when you win. The variety of units makes a big difference for the battles as well, as you’ll have regular infantry, tanks, planes, and ships, that can all be played in a bunch of different ways, allowing you to maximize their effects. The battlefield is well-constructed, and features a pretty interesting frontline system, which makes for a lot of fun action as both players jockey for advantage. The Draft mode is similar in the way combat functions, with one main twist; you draft your entire deck from a selection of random cards. Once you draft your deck, your gauntlet begins. The goal is to make it through a series of matches with this improvised deck without sustaining three losses. As you continue to win, you’ll be given better and better rewards in the form of card packs and gold for the store. I really liked this mode, and it made the stakes of each game feel even higher than before, as you have to use tickets to play draft mode, which you have a limited amount of. It’s high risk, high reward, but there’s no risk that you won’t feel rewarded after each victory.
Wrapping up this review, there are a few more things I need to mention. The game has a Discord chat, where members of the community can talk to each other, and this can be a great help to new players, again something for which the developers must be commended. There are also tournament modes planned for the future, and a World Championship, so the best players can test their skills against one another. With constant additions and improvements coming all throughout the rest of this year, KARDS is a game you’ll be able to keep playing for a long time. Overall, KARDS is a very good CCG, and whether you’re a fan of that genre, tactical games, or history (especially if you’re a fan of history), you should definitely check it out.
Developed and published by 1939 Games, KARDS – The WWII Card Game left early access and is now available as a full release on Steam, with plans to expand to mobile later in the summer. It is free to play and always will be, so there’s no excuse not to give this one a try.