Card Monsters, An In-Depth Review

7.7 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 8/10
Sounds: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10

Simple to learn and play. | Great introduction to the TCG genre, for beginners and younger people.

Lacking in strategic depth.

Browser-based

Free to play, with in-game purchases.

May 9,2012

English

Card Monsters is a browser-based, entry-level tactical trading card game that provides the thrill of collecting and battling cards without the need to spend big money in order to do so. With its lighthearted card art and a simpler approach to combat, this TCG is most appropriate for newer players and a younger audience.

It might not be the next Magic: the Gathering, but is it a good game? Read on to find out…

Fighting-on-Different-Battlefields

The main combat screen usually features a variety of different backgrounds,usually with thematic placement of the battlefield’s slots (such as “crossing an ice bridge” here). I really liked this as it made it feel more RPG-like.

Gameplay

Card Monsters has a very simple style of gameplay, with a story driven campaign and lengthy starter scenario to ease new players into the game. Battles are very straight-forward in that you play the cards you have access to at the time, which makes the decision-making process simple.

You start with a hand of 2 monster cards and 2 equipment cards. Monsters can be placed onto the battlefield, and the equipment cards to a monster after it has been summoned. Your main resource to do this is Crystal Shards and these are replenished at 2 per turn. You can speed up your resource-gathering by sacrificing cards in order to gain an extra crystal and play a bigger card that turn.

Once you can no longer afford to place or sacrifice any cards, your opponent then gets to do the exact same process of summoning, sacrificing, and equipping. Once that’s all done and everyone’s set-up their board, the battle starts. Combat is fully automated. Your monsters are the first to deal damage and use any special effects of their own, or from an equip card. The opponent’s monsters deal their damage next and then that completes the round.

Placing-Monsters

Here, you can see most clearly how the card slots indicate which monsters’ attack types are able to be played onto those slots. This creates a bit more variation in terms of the tactics required for playing monsters.

There are two areas to the card placement: a front row, where the melee attacks will usually be played, and a back row that is suited to the ranged and magical attackers. Identifying which attacks your monsters can do is by identifying on the cards the symbols for each type of attack. Some will have more than one type of attack, making them far more versatile when it comes to putting equipment on them. Their health is located below their attack values and sometimes the attack value is replaced with other useful skills, as well.

What’s great is that there are no life points to keep tabs on – the only thing you ever need to worry about is your monsters outlasting your opponents, as this is the win condition of the duel. Your duels usually end within a few minutes, so it’s great for those with very short attention spans or young wriggle-worms who can’t sit still for very long!

Unlocking-New-Areas

At a glance, the world map gives you an idea of your progress of completion for each area by depicting the percentage of how much you’ve completed there.

Modes and Features

Card Monsters‘ campaign mode is a story that sees you guided by an older adventurer. He lends you a helping hand with tips, strategies, and providing cards. Each section of the story is broken down into smaller battles and you are rewarded for their initial completion, with the option of re-visiting these for extra rewards either immediately or later on (at the cost of your Light Energy, which is the game’s Stamina system). Your progress for each main story section is shown as a percentage and once you’ve cleared the basic arch of that story, you’ll unlock new campaigns on the map in the Quest screen.

I liked the option of being able to earn extra rewards for replaying some battles, as this means you don’t hit a pay wall too soon. You earn Gold (soft currency), Crystals (used for upgrading cards), and a host of other items for your efforts and these in turn help you to buy items in the shop.

The shop is what you’d expect to find in browser-based games of this nature: simple, clean, functional and designed with bright colors. It’s not overly apparent in the main menu system though, and it did take me a few minutes to figure out where it was! Once found, I went straight in for the kill with some Booster Packs, and there are many options to choose from. There are now quite a number of expansions for the game, so there are hundreds of unique cards available so far.

After-Opening-a-Booster

I liked this neat feature of being able to “redraw” the contents of a booster for a lower cost than the price of a new booster. This helps you cycle through to a pack that you’re happy with, rather than accepting the random results of the first pack.

Boosters are reasonably priced based off of the amount of gold you can earn from playing, but some are locked to the premium currency (Edgebee Tokens). This doesn’t mean that all the good cards are in the premium packs alone, as I managed to pull some pretty decent rare cards from the standard offerings. Obviously as with any booster packs in these games, the better packs with the best cards will cost you more gold, so some saving is required (not great if you’re impatient like me!).

The other purchasable items within the Shop are Crystals, and also individual card singles, which can only be purchased once you become a member at a cost of 1000 tokens (which are given back as in-game currency straight away). The Crystals are a great way to add extra power to your cards after they’ve acquired enough experience points to become Charged. Some Crystals will grant EXP boosts, color changes (which lets you equip cards to other cards that they normally wouldn’t be able to be equipped to), Light Energy recharges, and foil-version transformations, to name but a few of the offerings.

There are other areas to explore within the game and these offer some longevity to the overall experience, adding some extra replay value as well. Swarms is an unlockable mode that has you fight off swarms of a particular card type; these start off weak and the difficulty gets progressively harder, but these are scaled with greater rewards being offered.

The Duels mode is a ranked system where you challenge other decks and as you win, you’ll collect points. The daily Top 5 are rewarded with gold, which is a different amount each day. Another cool little feature, which I actually really liked, is the collection. In here you can see at a glance all of the cards you have collected. These can be filtered by the individual set releases, and in greater detail on the cards themselves, with variants being shown too.

Achievements-Available

Working towards particular achievements will give unlocks and rewards such as particular cards, or Light Energy. These are a great way to gain a sense of progression over the longer life of playing the game, too.

Deckbuilding and Strategy

Card Monsters uses a color system similar to games like Magic: the Gathering, but simplifies this by not having a mana system for them. Once you’ve collected enough cards to start constructing your own deck, you’ll start to see the synergies between the cards and their color systems. Due to the game’s simple nature, you can get away with no clear cohesion and just fill your deck however you see fit, and this obviously works for either beginners or younger gamers.

I really liked the implementation of a colorless mana system here as this allowed me to fill my deck without having to worry about being resource-screwed. I found myself being drawn mostly to a 3 color deck and opting for equip cards that suited those colors and had a variety of different applications. You have access to cards that make your monsters stronger (weapons), heal them, or give an added bonus such as flight, grant a ranged attack ability and many more effects like this.

Sadly, this is about as much strategy as you can put into a game plan here, as the dealing of the cards and your hand size is limited to two of each type of card per turn. I often found myself sacrificing a card in order to draw another, but later wishing I still had the card that I sacrificed. This is often a problem with a TCG that limits how much interaction you can have with multiple cards at once.

Card Monsters isn’t a game that is too deep in strategy though, being more about short-term tactics than long-term strategy, but this isn’t a draw back in this case. Even though there are moments where you really wanted a certain card from your deck in the current situation, it isn’t a hard game at all. The last thing I think Edgebee wanted is to turn away younger players with an experience that is too disheartening with its difficulty level, hence the lower difficulty overall.

Deck-Editing-Screen

This green/blue/red deck I’ve built takes advantage of the fact that some monsters are “dual color”, which means you can equip cards of either color onto them for greater choice during battle. More choices nearly always equals more chances of winning.

Final Thoughts

What I liked most about Card Monsters it the really simple approach to a good TCG. They haven’t overstuffed it with unnecessarily complicated systems, modes, and features. They’ve kept it to a minimum and made what they have designed work very well.

If I were looking for a TCG for a young gamer to get into, this would be a very nice fit as it really doesn’t have anything that I would consider ‘graphic’ or violent content for them. The art style reminds me of children’s cartoons and is of a similar style to programs shown on TV currently, so there is a familiar visual style for younger audiences here.

A major problem with this game however is the cost of the tokens, which are needed for premium purchases or to use for general purchases instead of gold. They do feel a little on the high side by comparison to other TCGs of this nature, so be warned if you let your kids loose in this game that you’ll have to closely monitor and control their spending.

I would have liked there to be a bit more strategy for the more seasoned of TCG players, however I’m assuming that isn’t the developers target audience from the art style and overall presentation. It might appeal to new players of the genre as a great, gentle introduction to some of the concepts and gameplay mechanics, however.

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by
Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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