KARDS Game Review

KARDS is a free-to-play WWII themed collectible card game. 5 factions are currently available: Germany, Russia, USA, Britain, and Japan. Players gain resource each turn to play cards from their hand, move units, or make units attack. Units are divided into infantry, tanks, fighters, bombers, and artillery, which each have different move and attack rules.

Format: PC via Steam
Play time so far: 2 hours

Player as Russia defeating an A.I. playing Britain
Released in Early Access April 12th, 2019 by 1939 Games

Quick Overview

Major Pros:

  • Thematic art style
Major Cons:

  • Unintuitive deck builder interface
  • Slow to get cards to customize starter decks
Minor Pros:

  • Card sound effects
Minor Cons:

  • Bomber vs Fighter distinction
Decks can include a secondary faction as an “Ally”

In-depth Review

Basic gameplay in KARDS consists of the following. Each player draws a starting hand of cards (4 for the player going first, 5 for the second) from their 40 card deck and then chooses any number of them to put back and redraw. There are 3 zones on the battlefield: a support zone for each player which contains their city card starting at 20 health, and the frontline which either player can occupy (but not at the same time). Players gain resource called “kredits” each turn, up to a maximum of 12. Cards are either units (are played onto the field and then cost resource to move around and attack) or orders (have a one-time effect immediately). Each unit has different costs to utilize, rules for moving/attacking, and possibly special effects. Victory is achieved when the opponent’s city has been reduced to 0 or less health.

Bomber description reads: bombers can attack targets anywhere on the battlefield and are not dealt damage by units they attack, except by fighters. Bombers deal no damage to enemies that attack them.
In-game encyclopedia can be used during matches and contains keywords as well as other information

One of the things that first attracted me to KARDS was the graphical style. I love the thematic art style of the cards, theming of the table, color palette, and wear on the cards. The sound effects for each card also made me excited to play, although I wish there was more diversity in some of the sound effect categories, particularly for infantry.

Britain order card called Cup of Tea. The image shows a british flag and the words keep calm and carry on. The card's effect is to give all the player's british units plus 2 defense.
This is my favorite card

I found most of the user interface in KARDS to be readily understandable. In most cases any additional information I needed about a card was available on hover. However, there were two issues I had with the user interface. First was simply that the visual distinction between bombers and fighters was too subtle, given that they behave very differently in combat. Second was that I found the deckbuilding interface to be very unclear. I was frustrated that I couldn’t see my entire deck list at once and it took me a few minutes to understand what all the symbols under the cards were indicating.

Two rows of cards for the Japanese faction. It's visually unclear if there's any meaningful difference between the top and bottom rows.
The cards in the top row are those in the deck, while the bottom row is the player’s collection

For better or worse, I didn’t spend too much time in the deckbuilding scene because my ability to get new cards was pretty minimal. Players start be playing some beginning matches against AI and unlocking a starter deck for each faction, then one 5 card pack is given for free. Packs are then acquired either with real currency or by get gold from quests. 1 quest is given every day and it appears they all give 5 gold upon completion. Since packs cost 10 gold, it seems the game is weighed so free-to-play players will get a new pack every other day. This can make building a custom deck for a single faction a struggle since on average a pack will contain about 1 faction specific card for each faction. Technically slightly less than that, given the faction neutral cards.

3 missions are shown each providing 5 gold upon completion. They require deploying infantry, deploying units with the blitz ability, and winning games against bots. the beginning of a list of 363 achievements is also shown, each offers either gold or card crafting resources for completion.
Other than a daily quest, achievements are the other way to get gold for new packs

Recommendation

Overall I think KARDS looks promising and definitely a lot of love has been put into the look and feel of the game. I’m interested to see how it evolves with more cards and a potential draft mode in the future. PvP queue times are already good for new players, so I recommend collectible card game players and WWII buffs give the game a try.

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