Card Crawl Review – Go forth and loot

On March 17, 2015

App Type: Uncategorized

Card Crawl Review – Go forth and loot

Our rating:

By: TinyTouchGames

Version #: 1.4

Date Released: 2015-03-12

Developer: Arnold Rauers

Price: 1.99

User Rating:

Not Nethack. Nor Dungeon Crawl. Nor Brogue. This is not what you may expect if you are a dungeon crawler. What can’t be argued is that you should purchase Card Crawl as soon as possible. Best game of March for sure.

What is so special about, and what exactly is Card Crawl? Card Crawl is “just” a solitaire card game. But it mixes in looting, health points and monsters in such a clever way that it is an absolute joy to play. My current favourite time waster, Card Crawl will stay in my iOS devices for as long as it is compatible with them.

You are a 13HP adventurer facing a 54 cards deck. As expected, you have two hands and a backpack. On each turn you are dealt 4 cards you need to handle, cards of 6 types. Sounds easy? Well, in its core it is. Cards range in the following categories:

  • Swords are used to attack monsters, and deal their nominal damage. If the sword is stronger than the enemy, the remaining attack points are discarded. Quite obviously you need the sword at hand to use it!
  • Shields protect you of enemy damage. If an enemy attack is stronger than your shield, you’ll lose health points. Again, you need the shield at hand to use it.
  • Monsters are out to get you. They will attack you with their stated power, which is also their HP. So, if you attack with a 2-sword a 10- monster, it turns into an 8-monster. Once they have attacked, they are discarded. Monsters appear with attacks of strength 2–10 (in order, Ravens at 2–3, Slimes at 4–5, Spiders at 6–7, Goblins at 7–8, Trolls at 9 and Souleaters at 10)
  • Potions restore your HP. You need at least one free hand to drink a potion, of course.
  • Coins are used to determine your high score. You can put them on your backpack or in your hands to cash them to your treasure.
  • Special action cards. More on this later.

In each turn you need to remove 3 cards from the 4 dealt cards. This can mean wielding/equipping (or putting in your backpack) swords and shields, killing monsters, drinking potions or cashing-in coins. The troublesome part is that more often than not you’ll find yourself with, literally, your hands and backpack full. So, can’t wield anything else and can’t hold a potion. Crap! In these occasions you can exchange potions, swords and shields for their coin value with the dealer. If you give him coins he’ll thank you, but you won’t cash them. You’ll hate these moments.

If you are about to be completely crushed (say, you are dealt 4 enemies and can do nothing to three of them to get another hand dealt) you can sacrifice 5HP (which then increase to 7HP, 9HP…) to redraw all cards, but before taking any card off the table. If you do, you no longer can re-draw. Beware, this is a total last resort: the base deck is quite balanced for narrow wins/narrow defeats, so giving away 5HP can easily mean complete defeat, and more likely than not with the last hand (can’t count how many times I’ve been down to 3HP with just a 1-shield facing a goblin and a spider…). Same goes for throwing away high value swords, shields or potions. If you want to finish the deck you better drop the coins, even if it hurts to do so.

The gameplay is enhanced by the addition of special cards. Each deck has the addition of 5 special cards, and you can unlock more by winning games (no IAPs, this is a complete game.) These cards add some powerful mechanics, like for instance Sap which directly removes a card from the board for later (go away, you Souleater!) or the ultra-powerful Midas Scarf which turns any card to their value in gold. There are 20 cards you can unlock like this. In the normal mode, 5 special cards are chosen at random from your available cards, in constructed mode you choose your 5 cards among them.

So, what do I think about Card Crawl? If it hasn’t seeped already, I love it. A quick time-waster, the only minor drawback I find is that it seems to drain my battery incredibly fast for what the game is, I assume it’s due to the 3D look of the dealer and card animations. Minor complaint, I can always plug the damn device.

Some tips and tricks

For each won game you get coins to buy special power cards. The most bang for the buck early on are the Trade, Sacrifice and Leech cards, in this order.

  • Trade: You can trade any card for 10 gold. The awesome catch? When you drink a potion or cash a stash of coins they turn into 0-point cards, but you can still trade them for 10 gold. So, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
  • Sacrifice: You will give back as much damage as you have received (so, 13 minus your current HP.) This means that you can kill Souleaters (10 damage) with one shot, if you handle your HP well enough.
  • Leech: You’ll attack for at most 5 points, and get back 5HP.

Getting the highest score is basically maximising the output of your cards. Ideally you want to cash in all coins, use all swords on enemies tougher than these swords and deplete all shields. Then, you can sell the remaining stuff for easy profits. These 3 special cards (which are relatively among the cheap ones) are giving you essentially free sale opportunities worth all 10 points (trade sells for 10, sacrifice can save 10 points worth of swords/shields/potions by killing a Souleater, Leech can save 5 points in attack/defense and 5 more in HP.) The king of the crown though is the most expensive card in the game, Midas Scarf.

  • Midas Scarf: Convert any card to their value in gold.

So, you will turn a Souleater (10 damage) into a 10 coin card. Ding ding ding! You generated 10 points and saved 10 more in attack for a whooping 20 points in possible benefit!

Other handy cards are Morph, which converts a card into a random card (I’ve had Souleaters converted to strength 11 swords, for an awesome profit of 21 points, but this is rare, but even if converted to a 4-shield you get 14 profit) and Fortify, which adds 5 to any card (well, this is probably the weakest among the coolest cards.)

Go and crawl!

Quick Take


Would I Buy Again:10 times or more

Learning Curve:Small

Who Is It For:People with spare moments

What I Like:Fast paced, original, fun

What I Don't Like:Battery usage could be better

Final Statement:Go get it get it!

Read the Developer's Notes:
Card Crawl is a solitaire style Dungeon Crawler played with a modified deck
of standard cards.

Clear the Dungeon of 54 cards by using item-cards, slaying monsters and managing your limited inventory. Each run you can use 5 ability-cards (mini deck building) which will give you unique skills. By collecting gold you can unlock 15 ability-cards which enable new tactics and even better highscores.

Card Crawl’s 2 single player game modes are enhanced via Game-Center to compare scores and the associated decks created by each player. A typical game can be played within 2-3mins and is a perfect one more game experience while waiting in line or commuting.

Article By

Ruben Berenguel is finishing his PhD in Mathematics while writing in about being a 'geek of all trades'. He also happens to be the senior editor in the What's on iPhone network: any complaints go to him!

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