Calculords is a lane-based tactical card game where your math skills are the only thing standing between you and victory. (I know, I know — that’s horrifying, right?) Calculords isn’t your typical card game where you deploy cards from your hand onto a battlefield. Instead, the game requires you to add, subtract, or multiply values in order to meet the card’s ‘summoning’ costs. Calculate your way to Soldiers, Tanks, Mutants, and even UFOs, then rain down vengeful laser beams of destruction upon you foes in this “edutainment” game.
Have the developers got all their calculations right, or do they need to go back to the abacus? Read on to find out…
Calculords is a retro-styled, mathematical problem solving, lane-based, Sci-Fi card game (yep, that’s a mouthful!). The game has plenty of wit and humor thrown into the mix, too. Gameplay is quite a simple affair – as long as you are good at basic arithmetic (but don’t worry if you aren’t, because the game motivates you to get better at it!).
The game board is separated into three lanes, with each player having a base at either side of these lanes. You will control troops on the left hand side of the board, and the AI opponent controls the right side. Both players’ bases start with a set number of hit points.
The objective is simple — be the first to annihilate the opponent’s base by reducing its hit points to zero. To do this you will need to summon Soldiers, Vehicles, Mutants, and other support cards to your lanes. Your troops and other cards come from a previously constructed deck and are drawn at random each turn. The cards you draw sit below the main combat area on the left, and to the right of these are the numbers you’ll be using to calculate with. Sounds simple enough, right? You have no idea the hell that awaits you…
There are three types of units that can be ‘calculated’ into combat: Soldiers, Vehicles, and Mutants. There are additional support cards than can be played, but these are single use and disappear after. Each unit has base values that are shown on the card. AP is the card’s Attack Points and represents the damage it will do to enemy units. The card’s HP (Health Points) is the amount of damage it can sustain before being destroyed. When a unit attacks, it will attack against the enemy’s HP, taking into account any Armor effects which block the first X amount of incoming damage.
Some cards will carry special abilities along with their base statistics, such as Armor, or Double Speed. Some units are purely aggressive, whilst some are push-type troops that reduce the amount your opponent advances. There is plenty of variation here, especially as the game contains over 200 different cards. If you’re in to building a hefty collection, you’ll be playing for a while! Just remember: the numbers are your friend, not your enemy…
The top-left corner of a card is where its summoning value resides. Most games work on a resource system, or summoning costs in order to bring their units to the field. Calculords takes completely different approach and asks that you calculate your troops into play. Let’s use an example to make this a little clearer… and to show off my math skills! (They suck, trust me.)
Let’s say you have a big monster of a Vehicle that you want to bring into play. The number on this Vehicle is 72 and we have the numbers: 2, 3, 3, 6, 7 and 8 available. At first glance it would look like it might not be possible, but when we can add, subtract, and even multiply numbers, it becomes easy. First we’ll have to multiply the two 3s, giving us a 9. Next we’ll multiply the 9 we just got with the 8, and now we have the 72 we need. That’ll leave us with the 2, 6, and 7 for other cards that we’ll want to bring into play after. See? Not so tough after all.
If you are able to use all the number cards and have more cards to play yet, you’ll be given another set of numbers to help bring the rest of your cards into play. If you then manage to use all the cards, you’ll earn a point bonus. Use all the cards and all the numbers, including the second set, for a double point bonus. Points are useful for the rewards you’ll get once you clear a round.
Combat occurs when your troops are close enough to the enemies, and vice versa. This doesn’t happen straight away as they will need to advance first (your troops come into play next to your base). Unless a troop has the Double Speed ability, they advance a few steps at a time. This gives you time to mount a counter-offensive or defensive strategy in order to protect your attack units behind higher HP units, as units at the front are hit first with no overspill being done to the unit(s) behind. The turn player is considered to be the attacking player, so their units will be the only ones to attack that turn.
MODES AND FEATURES
Calculords only has one mode, the single-player campaign. You are the last of a race, the Last Star Nerd. It is up to you to control the last of the Calculord cards to victory against the evil Hate Bit. Sadly, that’s as deep a story as you get from Calculords, but I really didn’t expect epic novel writing from the game after seeing its retro-style graphics. At least we can be thankful it doesn’t contain the same terrible storytelling from the ’80s!
There isn’t a need to drop any money on Calculords, but if you do decide to, you can. There are some reasonably priced card packs in the games store at $1.99 each. Once you buy that pack, those cards can then be obtained by playing the game, limiting the amount of repeat purchases needed to obtain more than one of a card. Finding those cards in the main game will be a long and painful process though, but if you’re up for tackling it, it’s there.
This goes hand in hand with how much of a grind the game can feel. I found myself against a brick wall very early on, as early as the second level, in fact. I had to play through it a couple of times before I could level up, and the game did last a while. If you’re the type who doesn’t like a grind, then the game is designed to make you use those in-app purchases to progress faster, by accessing more powerful cards that help you along with the difficulty.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Calculords has a simple deckbuilder that doesn’t require you to know math as well as the main game does. It simply asks that you have a minimum of 30 cards and even helps you out by telling you how many cards you currently have in the deck. In order to add or remove cards from your deck, you just tap it. Holding down your press will bring up more details on that card, the only way to learn if that card has special abilities.
Tactically speaking, Calculords‘ main strategy comes from using all your numbers in order to get another chance at using the other cards in your hand. You don’t need to be a math genius to do this, but having a basic understanding of math is important. What I didn’t like was the omission of a division button, which would have come in handy plenty of times.
You’ll also want to know that it is possible to multiply cards by 0 and 1 in order to keep the value and use up the last of your numbers if that is all that remains. You can also subtract down into negative figures in order to add up into a different positive value, too. Useful tricks to know if you want to be able to bring all your troops out in a single turn.
Calculords was one of the top releases of 2014, and with good reason. It is what we could refer to as an “edutainment” title, a rare thing in the TCG/CCG genre. This is where the game is legitimately both educational and entertaining. You could quite easily give this to a younger player who is beginning to learn the basics of math. Calculords would probably facilitate their learning further without them knowing it, as they’re too busy having fun.
I enjoyed playing Calculords up until I realized that in order to have a more ‘rounded’ and ‘fair’ experience I would need to spend money. I don’t like it when a game is too skewered towards either grinding or paying to win. I really should make it clear that you can enjoy the game without spending a dime, and technically you can, but you’ll find it difficult if you don’t.
Calculords has an enjoyable mix of game mechanics and education. Using math problems to play a card battle game is a unique experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. The retro appearance and funky sounds will get you remembering the ‘good old days’ of gaming, too. It may be a bit of grind at some stages, but stick with it, as the game will reward those who stick around with plenty of fun moments, as well as some brain training. Math-tacticians, unite!
For more screenshots, click here.
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