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iPhone  header logo

Kard Combat

For: iPhone


Product: Kard Combat | Developer: Hothead Games | Publisher: Hothead Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler, Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Kard Combat iPhone, thumbnail 1
If you're a fan of popular card game Magic: The Gathering, you'll no doubt rub your hands at the idea of an iPhone title based on the turn-based battler.

Alas, no such game exists - but while we wait for publisher Wizards of the Coast to get its act together a brand new release is doing a fine job of keeping the seat warm.

Kard Combat is not just another collectible card game for iPhone. It's co-developed by Richard Garfield, the original designer of the Magic: The Gathering series.

You can really feel his expertise and experience shining through in the game design and balancing. A little extra customisation would have had us shouting its name from the rooftops, but for now we're more than happy to recommend Kard Combat to any Magic enthusiast.

Gather round

The Kard is a dark order of magi who rule over the forbidden kingdom from their evil Black Tower.

Every 1000 years, the magi battle it out to determine who will be the rule of their clan for the next millennium. The time has come for you to put some cards on a table and wreak havoc with numbers and possibly paper cuts.

It's a flimsy setting, but when the action is this addictive it's easy to forgive a weak plot.

You're presented with a table that features two rows of six spaces, and five element columns stacked on either side - see the screenshot above for a better idea.

During your turn, you can take a card anywhere from the bottom and place it into one of the six slots in the middle, as long as the slot is empty and you have enough mana points.

Each card has three stats - attack, mana cost, and health. At the end of your turn, each of your cards attacks and damages either your opponent's cards or your opponent's health directly, depending on where they are placed on the table.

Cards also have special abilities that come in to play, changing the flow of battle and hopefully swinging the game in your favour.

Not too easy, not too Kard

There's far more to it than that, with mana collecting each turn, special effects coming into play, and card combinations, but this is essentially how the game plays out.

The gameplay is gloriously deep, and Magic: The Gathering fans will definitely feel right at home, pouring hours, days, and weeks into working out the best combinations and tactics.

There's a lot to see and do, as well. Four towers need beating, with each taking a good few hours to demolish. You can also take on single duels, and then go and check out all the cards you've collected from your various battles.

The biggest pull for most, however, will be the outstanding multiplayer components.

You can play online against friends or strangers, and action is asynchronous, so you can make your move and then go and do something else while you wait for your opponent to respond. In this way, you can have multiple games going at a time.

All hands on deck

It would be nice, however, if the game was a little more customisable.

Other than choosing your mage type, there's no way to pick out the cards you want to play with. A set is randomly chosen for you before each game.

This will no doubt disappoint many players, although it's still not enough to keep us from plugging hours of play into this wonder.

We'd also like it if there were some statistics recorded that we could sift through. OpenFeint scoring is available, but we'd really like to have some in-depth numbers that we could analyse as a way of improving our game.

The final slight disappointment is the way the game is packaged. The first five levels are free to play, but then you need to either buy towers separately or splash out on a one-time payment to grab everything in one go.

Even with all this in mind, we'd still fully recommend Kard Combat to any and all tabletop card-battling fans, especially if you're a Magic fan.

Kard Combat
Reviewer photo
Mike Rose | 18 July 2011
Until Magic: The Gathering comes to iPhone, Kard Combat will rule the dark magic roost, with hours of single-player card battling action and wonderful multiplayer options
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