Kard Combat ™ Review

By , on July 14, 2011

Kard Combat ™
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • ‘Tower’ mode incrementally teaches mechanics; also provides tangible ‘boosts’ to each mage.
  • Four flavors of decks currently available; heal, attack, passive and controlling.
  • Refined tactical style; less dependent on luck of the draw.
  • Turn-based online play; matches paused if you go offline.


  • No deck building; simply handed 20 cards each time you play.
  • Players can leave games to avoid losses or giving wins.


Kard Combat has its strong points, in particular its approachability for those who are usually put off by the fine-details in collectible card games, but combat can feel dry when your options are limited by default.

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Editor Note (Nov 9, 2011): One of the major weaknesses of Kard Combat when it was released was its lack of customization - something further exascerbated by only having a handful of mages to play with, limiting the overall amount of unique cards to try out. Instead of adding in deck manipulation, Hothead Games has opted to add more mages (albeit at a cost) while also adding in local hotseat (a boon for friends who don't own iDevices). We still feel the lack of customization makes it hard to consider it a serious competitive card game, but it's updates do deserve recognition. (Final Score: 3.6 -> 4.0)

We teased the game a while ago, but Kard Combat by Hothead Games has finally dropped on the App Store and collectible card game fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Why relief? Despite Richard Garfield (co-creator of Magic the Gathering) helping out with the design of this card game, there’s not a booster pack in sight and better still, those who have found themselves out of their depth in the past will appreciate the simplicity of this title.

Unlike most traditional CCGs, players are given access to an unlimited deck with a selection of their cards made permanently available to them. The limiting factor here is the amount of ‘mana’ you have available, with each card (of which there are four for each of the five mana types) depleting the pool of energy when summoned. Only one card can be used per round (though you can skip a turn), meaning you’ll have to choose between using up one of the limited amount of slots on the field that are available or activating a spell.

Although each of the four currently available ‘mages’ share a lot of cards in their deck early on, completing a 33 stage tower will earn unique cards and boosts that give them their unique feel. If you stick to the free game you’ll only be able to dip your toe in to each tower, however each mage can be purchased separately, as a bundle or completely unlocked depending on how patient you feel.

Where hardcore CCG fans and casual players are likely to split ways is on the ability to control the deck you play with. Online play versus friends or random players doesn’t require a completely unlocked deck, but it does help a great deal. Unfortunately the inability to play around with the cards you have available can make fights terribly dry as the amount of tactics at your disposal is limited. This is a boon for those who simply want to jump in and play, but those who enjoy tinkering around with CCG mechanics are left waiting for the tentatively hinted at ‘draft’ mode.

What Kard Combat offers is a unique blending of CCG mechanics in a package that’s simple and refined while providing multiple entry points for players ranging from simply the curious to the hardcore and competitive. The first taste is free, so it’s definitely worth checking out.


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