At the end of April, Blue Manchu released Attack of the Artifacts, an awesome expansion to their already exciting free-to-play game Card Hunter. I had never played Card Hunter before I ended up with the task of reviewing the expansion, but I have no idea how I missed out on playing this game the minute it came out. I’m a huge tabletop gaming nerd, so I was definitely enthusiastic about the opportunity to play a hybrid tabletop RPG/collectible card game on my PC.
If you’re as new to this game as I was, you deserve some backstory. In Card Hunter, you’re actually playing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign within a wider meta-story. You’ll experience Gary, your GM (Game Master), getting pushed around a bit by his older brother while he learns the ins-and-outs of hosting a tabletop game.
After his setup of each “campaign,” you’ll be thrust into the card battle portion of the game. You and Gary will take turns drawing cards from your decks that allow characters on the board to move and attack. Understanding of tabletop gaming elements such as terrain and line-of-sight will be crucial to your success at defeating the monsters Gary is controlling. The characters and cards you control are augmented by the items you earn from each short campaign. There’s also “pizza,” the in-game currency you can purchase that allows you access to more loot faster.
I was immediately immersed in both the original game and the Attack of the Artifacts content in the form of new cards and places to battle in Cardhunteria. It took a bit to work up to the level where I could play through the new campaigns, but the new items were available almost immediately. These items, as mentioned, translate into new items for your army, which consists of up to three customizable tabletop figurines.
I began with a Dwarf Knight and ended up getting an Elf Priest and Human Wizard to control as I played through the game. These character roles are pretty self explanatory, and all have strengths and weaknesses exacerbated or compensated for by the races you choose. Elf characters have enhanced movement, as you might expect, which translates well to a battle medic type build that allows you to quickly move and heal your allies while dealing damage as well.
The items are numerous and give you access to a wide range of effects that include both enhancement and detriment cards. While certain types of items are limited to specific slots (standard, really), I didn’t expect the huge range of flexibility I was awarded when it came to item choices, and even more new items are added with the Attack of the Artifacts expansion.
This type of flexibility is what keeps me playing a game like this long after I should be in bed. At the end of every battle and campaign, I was awarded a new chest, and this highly addictive game rewarded me frequently and quickly with new gear to swap to test different types of decks. Early on, you can decide to have your wizard’s offense focus on short but wide bursts of fire, or long-range single-target bolts of lightning. I ended up customizing my priest with an offense-heavy balance of buff, attack, and healing cards. My knight was slow moving, but was armed with a deck of brutal attack cards.
At the heart of this game is truly fun campaign storytelling. Gary delivers information with humor and flair, and I found myself laughing out loud at the campaign explanations. Basically, this game is a must-play for CCG enthusiasts looking to diversify their PC gameplay with a hybrid tabletop experience, especially since it’s free-to-play.
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