32 people found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 4,267.6 hrs on record (4,231.1 hrs at review time)
Posted: Jan 2 @ 7:51am
Updated: Jan 5 @ 11:56pm

Nigh Perfect
Innovative gameplay, old-school dungeon stories under a cute player frame story, overall clean, NOT pay-to-win, and *gasp* a fantasy setting where Humans are NOT boring! $:^ ]

Since I've played this for years and could ramble about it for years, I'll force myself to keep this brief for your sake. $;^ J Probably everyone else has talked about it earning innovation awards and describing it as "Dungeons & Dragons meets Magic: The Gathering"; therefore, I'll jump into things I find interesting/good, then bad.

Setting, flavor, etc. CH parodies *playing* old-school D&D adventures and the Game Manager culture which it started, but CH plays the adventures themselves mostly straight to contrast the charm of the frame story's players at the table. Play the campaign controlling three fantasy characters at a time, or bring one character alongside other players to form a co-op party. Even if you're unfamiliar with this kind of setting, the frame story presents sibling dynamics and socially awkward mishaps you can still enjoy without grokking all the RP jargon. $:^ J Everything is played out in cards, including character movement on the maps, but tabletop pen & paper RPG "dexterity checks" and such have been translated to many cards (armor, blocks, specially volatile attacks, etc.) requiring six-sided die rolls to succeed; likewise, "character points" have been translated to permanent power tokens you earn via leveling up, which then let you equip items you have enough power for - those items in turn including character Traits like Altruism and Clumsy, because sometimes your priest shows to be a Talented Healer in the heat of battle, or your wizard might Trip and have to cast spells from the ground for a moment.

Mechanics, strategy. Its board game aspect allows for different terrain, distance, line of sight, etc. making positioning key! Its card-playing aspect feels like great "what-if" moments during the campaign, and like psychological warfare during PvP. Of course, the card-playing is fun, but like any good RPG, (and any good battle card game,) the pre-encounter prep helps determine the outcome: building your characters means picking your races and classes, and piecing together their individual decks; whether you enjoy thematic flavor or min-maxing your win chances, you "write" pros and cons on "character sheets" by equipping items (each item consisting of cards that go into that deck). For example, if you want to Pulverizing Bludgeon some damage through an opponent's shield sometimes (when that attack card is drawn), you might equip the safer Infused Greatclub (weapon item) with several weaker attacks filling up your deck, or you might opt for the riskier Enormous Mattock (weapon item) with all great attacks but two handicap Traits (which also "shrink" your deck, letting you find your good cards faster); if you go risky, then you might also have a Human Priest who keeps some Purge cards on-hand to cleanse the Warrior's weapon drawbacks - or cleanse an enemy of buffs when needed. Planning ahead! Whether adventuring or PvPing, your party works together in unique ways you create! $:^ b (Or, perhaps they don't work together. Perhaps you just have three Elf Priest Loner Vampires. Again, you decide your party's mechanical synergy and stylish flavor!)

Not pay-to-win. 1. You can finish the whole campaign without spending a dime. 2. There are people who've attained and maintained #1 spots in PvP who've never spent a dime. 3. There's no stupid energy system at all. ~ Need I say more? ~ You can spend real money on items and such if you want, but without tactical skill, you're just advancing your collection - and good random treasure chests you can get for gold every few hours anyway (upgradable if you play and win in leagues). Real money also permanently buys value-rich adventure expansions and cosmetic character costumes. Temporarily, money can subscribe you to the CH Club, speeding up your loot chase, netting you one extra random item per earned win. ~ Actual P2W messes I've played reek of big spending to stay competitive, free players conceding to second-class status, and the overall playerbase accepting this situation. No such thing in CH.

The community. See, one might argue, eh, a community just "happens" around a game. Roll your dice on whether you get a good one or not. Except, here, the devs specifically cultivated a nice community, first with the rules (being a jerk is against the rules, meh heh,) and simple reporting interface, and second with in-game volunteer moderators picked from the playerbase itself. Also, in years past, the devs supported community contests and used creations in-game; more on this at the end.

Humans are *gasp* not boring. Dwarves are slow and extra robust/raging, and Elves are fragile and extra fast/tricky, yet those middle-of-the-road Humans are not unspecial do-nothings. Their unique racial skills are based on leadership and teamwork. Isn't that just cool? $:^ b This translates to weak cards like "Attack, Soldier!" creating someone a new attack card out of nowhere, and overpowered insanity like Delegate granting an ally basically a whole extra turn all at once. In adventures, a Human adds great leadership value, whereas a whole team of Humans can overpower monsters via shifting responsibilities and positions. In PvP, a Human Priest is a gold standard for background support, and a whole team of Humans brings several interesting options.

Consistent, charming artwork. In short, Ben Lee did a bang-up job. What's nice, in my opinion, about a single artist handling the entire project, as opposed to many (most? all?) other collectible card games is that it's consistent. The serious dungeon scene of the baron's daughter chained unlawfully in Shieldhaven Prison, the hilarious Werecake Slices of the (clean!) Penny Arcade crossover expansion... the different styles coming from the same artist causes an intangible unity within the distinctive backdrop of photorealistic tabletop cardboard cutouts emblazened with stylistic, cartoony imagery.

It's clean! There's like, what, one bad word in the whole thing. That's unnecessary, but it's still a far cry from it seems the vast majority of entertainment and media these days. Also, the closest thing you get to the stupid "chainmail bikini" garbage is the fact that the default Elf Warrior guy is shirtless. So yeah, there's some nakedness in the game, but I'm aware most people would disagree and not even call it nakedness - the rare man here or there with no shirt, the rare woman here or there with something lowcut - again, it's a far cry from the majority of mass media, for which I'm grateful.

Customer service. You have problems? They're on it. I've had issues myself, and I've seen others face problems - some tech, some billing - and they're always on it. Just, period. Good stuff.

Cross-platform servers. Whether you play through the CH website, through Kongregate, or through the Steam app, the whole community is joined together. Yay. $:^ ]

The bad. 1. See my "clean" paragraph for some bad. $;^ J 2. The GUI is a bit clunky in some areas, but is overall fine. 3. CH was developed in Flash, and Flash support is generally on its way out, which means Card Hunter has reached its sunset years, sadly, but at least the devs have said they don't intend to close the server. Now you see why I said "more on this" about community support. What can ya do. So! While the game remains up, enjoy it for what it is and can continue to be. $:^ ]

Have fun, do well, and happy hunting!
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3 Comments
Cesar Mar 28 @ 4:00am 
no pay 2 win at all, no paid content, no subscription, no microtransactions, sarcasm FTW :D
Zetlin Feb 24 @ 11:25am 
I'm concerned that this game is no longer updated or taken care of. I can't find any information online about this, not on the wiki the blog the reddit or steam forums. It all feels a bit like a ghost town with dates from 2017 or 2018. I have no issue buying extras after spending hours playing a f2p game if I have no option to complete the game for free. I just don't want to fund a game that is no longer in development.
Mksaron Jan 22 @ 9:42am 
Great review! Couldn't have described it any better ;)