I’ve been playing a bunch of Card Crawl (iOS) over the past couple of days. It’s a solitaire game that gives the usual card suits a genre makeover. Instead of diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades you’ve got coins, shields, potions, and swords, all numbered from 2-10 (I’m teaching Bartle again in a couple of weeks, so this metaphor is resonating with me). The face cards have been taken over by monsters, ranging in strength (again) from two to ten. You have a max health of 13, and your goal is to survive the dungeon while maximizing the gold you collect.
So it’s an optimization puzzle with a hefty bit of randomness; the spice here is a set of magic spells of various degrees of usefulness. One might help you dodge a particular bad “dungeon hand” (the selection of four cards you face at a given time), while another allows you to vampirically damage an enemy, while others kinda “break” the game by allowing you to manipulate numerical values or morph cards completely.
In the “normal” mode of the game, the barkeep randomly shuffles in five of the spell cards that you’ve unlocked. In “constructed,” you get to pick your five. The point is always to chase a higher gold score, and there are global and friend leaderboards to help you out here. The juicy risk/reward enters in by means of the shop, which will trade your useful items for more gold. Sadly, I’ve left my friends in the dust (Jason Killingsworth used to be my favorite nemesis, but he’s busy playing ARAM, or whatever it is Rioters do), and I’m quickly gaining on the global leaders.
I’m anxiously awaiting an update to the game that will let me customize the dungeon deck further. Until that glorious day arrives, I’ve devised a system to make Card Crawl a little harder for myself. The goal here isn’t so much to make it brutal, but to increase the degree of mindfulness that the game requires. I’m still tweaking these, but here is what I’ve been doing if you’d like to pep up your crawling game:
Souleater: kills you if its damage will take you to one or two life
Troll: immune to spells
Goblin: ignores shield
Spider: when it damages you, potions become ineffective until a new dungeon hand
Slime: if you have a sword when one appears, you must use it on the slime
Crow: when it dies, you must sell whatever is in your backpack