Tap Cats: Battle Arena is a free-to-play collectible card game where players collect cats from different factions. Cards have four tiers of rarity and can be leveled up and fused to increase their power. Both a solo campaign and PvP mode are available. Matches are fast, with each player having only 10 cards in a deck.
- Quick and easy matches
- Long campaign available
- Clean art
- Multiple quest lines plus daily quests
- Very little strategy during matches
- Many mechanics use randomness
- Large power advantage for rarer and upgraded/fused cards
- No synchronous PvP
The main focus of Tap Cats: Battle Arena is collecting cards and leveling them up to improve their combat skills. Each card can be upgraded 2-5 times (based on rarity) and fused twice. This grants additional stats or abilities. There are over 30 abilities in the game currently and more than 200 cards. Cards are divided into more than 20 factions with 4 to 19 cards each. Restricting decks to one or two factions provides bonuses, but is not required. In addition to the deck, players also choose a hero. Heroes synergize with factions and determine a player’s starting health. Heroes level up as they are used and build reputation with their aligned factions, increasing the bonuses of those factions when in the hero’s deck. I enjoyed the themes of the different factions and the multitude of heroes. It was appealing that cards could be upgraded, but it was also clear that higher upgrades, fusions, and rarity cards were significantly better. All these things can be acquired with real money which will discourage some free-to-play players and make the competitive path much more difficult. Here are some comparisons of initial cards at each rarity and their fully upgraded and fused forms:
Decks in Tap Cats: Battle Arena consist of 10 cards. Players start with a hand of 3 cards, draw one each turn, and play one each turn. Cards are always played on the right and they slide as far to the left as they can, leaving each player’s conga line of cats to blender themselves against each other the further to the left they make it. Players cannot alter the order of the cards on the field, meaning the “oldest” cards are always at the left. Cards activate their abilities and attack, starting with the left (oldest) and ending with the right (newest). Damage and ability affects stick on cards, damage is permanent and abilities last up to a round. Damage between cards is one sided, with the exception of an ability that allows a small amount of damage to be dealt to attackers from defenders. Abilities either act on the card using it, on the card directly across from it, or on a random ally or enemy. A few abilities can affect all allies or enemies. Many abilities are random, which limits the competitiveness of the game in my opinion. The inability to move the cards after they’ve be placed or control where they’re placed also limits the strategy. For most of my matches I found myself simply playing the best card in my hand based on a few rules from how I built my deck. Rarely did I need to look at what my opponent was playing, which made the game feel very one sided. Even on normal speed, I could easy play a match in about a minute.
It’s no real surprise that the games feel one sided though, considering that there’s currently no synchronous PvP. There’s asynchronous PvP where a bot will play your opponents deck (you can even turn a bot on for yourself and watch it play your deck), but given the questionable intelligence of the bots sometimes, I don’t think the experience is the same. The game is still in early access, so hopefully a real time PvP mode will exist by full release. What the game does provide is a long solo campaign providing tons of basic cards from each faction as well as upgrade materials, energy and tickets (used to play PvE and PvP respectively) and premium currency. Playing through the monthly ranked brackets earns players additional rewards such as hero shards, skins, and box fragments. Box fragments can be combined and opened like a faction specific booster back. There are also multiple quest lines, including daily quest, to supply the player with additional loot.
I enjoyed the clean modern style of the art in Tap Cats: Battle Arena. I liked that it continued in a consistent style through all the UI, hero art, etc. However, I’d have liked to see animations on the cards, even if it was just a one-time animation when they attacked or were played onto the field. But there’s still a lot of promise for things to be added before a full release. The main screen already includes a link to a story mode (separate from the campaign) and a guilds arena, both are marked as still under development.
Overall I found Tap Cats: Battle Arena to be a simple and fast collectible card game. It lacks some key features for a more competitive audience, but a casual player can have fun collecting and upgrading cards and building their cat army. There are promises of new cards and events every month, so it’s certainly something players can come back to. But competitive players should best look elsewhere.