Kingdoms CCG (Collectible Card Game) is an online fantasy trading card game that provides a fully fledged strategic deck-building and battling game with a single-player campaign, guilds, tournament modes such as drafting, constructed and sealed play, card crafting and unique Hero abilities that can be triggered during play.
A lot of these elements are familiar from other games, but the way they are synthesized into a complete whole, with a few unique touches of its own, is what really makes this game stand out overall.
Read on to find out more…
Kingdoms CCG starts out with a battlefield separated into two halves, each controlled by a single player. Each player has 3 character slots, a shared Rune-Word slot in the middle of the field, and a maximum hand size of five cards. Each player also has a starting amount of Health and Mana, determined by the player’s chosen Hero, as well as three unique abilities possessed by that Hero. These can only be triggered after a certain amount of turns have gone by by using up the required amount of charges, with 1 charge added to all abilities each turn (unless cards affect this).
Players also draw 1 card and gain 2 Mana per turn, but they can choose to discard a card from their hand in order to gain 1 Mana and can do this as many times per turn as they have cards. You don’t want to do this too many times however, since card draw is fairly hard to come by in this game, making cards a valuable resource to hold onto in your hand for playing.
Creatures will attack the turn after the turn they come in (“summon sickness” in other games), and when they attack, they attack the creature only in the slot in front of them or the enemy Hero if the slot is empty. Creatures deal damage equal to their attack, and when they lose HP they do not regain it at the end of the turn. An attacking creature will also be dealt damage by the opposing Creature unless abilities prevent this (flying creatures will attack over, but always defend in-coming ground attacks, for example).
Last Hero standing, wins.
One of the more unique aspects of this game is that when creatures die, they will leave behind a “Corpse” tombstone for a whole turn. This stops you playing on that slot unless you pay 2 Mana to remove it that turn, but it will disappear on its own the round after. Lots of cards interact with Corpses in a variety of ways, making them their own kind of entity which needs to be strategically managed. This is one of the best things about the game and really alters the strategy of doing things like chump-blocking with smaller creatures, making that a less effective way of dealing with big attackers.
So what’s it like to play, overall? The core game of Kingdoms CCG sounds like a familiar affair – fantasy Heroes battling it out with decks of creatures, equipment, spells and so on. While there is nothing new there, it is the way the game handles these elements that makes Kingdoms a game perfectly suited for the middle-market between casual gamers and more hardcore strategy card gamers.
This halfway point is somewhat under-represented in the mobile app market, where games tend to cater towards one audience or the other with little room in-between. I think Kingdoms achieves this, whether it was intended or not. It fills a niche in the market without treading on too many other toes at the same time and still provides a rewarding strategy experience without losing any depth.
Gameplay Modes and Other Features
Kingdoms CCG has a variety of modes and features which make the game feel much larger than just the single-player campaign. The campaign however does provide a lot of content to get stuck into. It’s not exactly a linear affair, but there are set pathways for you to follow and explore and you need to end up more or less at the same place eventually. It’s designed well enough and is a fun introduction to the deeper game overall.
What makes the campaign interesting is that certain battles will require specific deck construction limits, and these vary a lot which force you to make radically different decks just to enter. You can’t rely on a single, unchanging deck to carry you all the way through the campaign so you have to adapt to these requirements. While it costs “energy” to attempt each match, I never found myself in a situation where I was stuck for energy.
While the single-player campaign is a very sizable chunk of the game, it is the Arena and Tournaments where most players will end up focusing their efforts.
Kingdoms CCG‘s Arena is the straight up ranked PvP mode, offering Limited and Standard rule sets to play with. The rarity restrictions in Limited give players with lesser cards (and deck-tweakers that love restrictions) a chance to play, where any deck can only have a maximum of 8 Rares, 2 Epics and 1 Legendary. This is opposed to Standard’s restriction of only a maximum of 4 Legendaries. Completing Arena matches also unlocks Quest requirements, such as win 50 matches, play 10 battles with a specific Hero, etc. with prizes of gold if you complete them.
Kingdoms also has a variety of tournaments on offer throughout the day. These can have modified rules sets as well, for example the Draft tournaments might be from specific expansions of cards instead of the usual core set draft packs, or unique sealed events where you have to open a bunch of packs and build a playable deck from them. The prizes on offer differ depending on the tournament, but they’re usually very worthwhile such as booster packs.
Draft and Sealed are my favorite modes to play in Kingdoms CCG as I enjoy the challenge of putting together a limited deck and trying to win with it. Kingdoms handles these very well, with a short timer so that players have to think and play quickly or forfeit the game. It might be a bit brutal on new players, but it ensures a healthy tournament life for the game if things are kept moving along swiftly and I applaud the developers for including this into the game.
There are also Guilds you can join, which can engage in war with other Guilds and participate in the Guilds League. There is loot available for Guilds that are successful doing this, so once you’re wanting to get deeper into the social aspects of the game, Guilds are the heart of it.
Deckbuilding and Strategy
The advanced tutorials in the game actually do a pretty good job of explaining some of the different deck strategies to be found in the game, such as Aggro, Control and Chain Combo decks which are familiar archetypes from other card games. You’ll find these in the bottom left corner of the screen when you start the single player campaign. There is also the added benefit of earning a core pack of cards every time you finish one of those tutorials, so they’re worth completing just for that alone.
Deckbuilding in the game is quite simple and straight forward, with a well-designed interface. You’ll need to first pick the Hero you want to build around, as this will determine the alignment and Kingdom type that will restrict some of the choices available to you for your other card picks, as there are opposing Kingdoms who will not co-exist in a deck together. Deck size can also range between 15 minimum to up to 40 and 60 card decks, depending on the format you are playing. A 15 card deck works well in the campaign but won’t work in tournaments, for example.
A lot of the strategy also comes about in the form of archetypes or tribes. These are usually typified by the game’s ‘Kingdoms’ which share an affinity for the same alignment and have similar card types in them. For example, one tribal deck I use is built around Faeries, where Faeries gain abilities depending on what other Faeries are on the field. While they are small creatures, they can offer each other decent buffs to help bring up their power level, and they’re just fun to use.
There are similar tribal decks in the different Kingdoms so it’s worth experimenting and finding out what’s available. Just keep in mind that Hero powers are also important, and they need to sync with the overall strategy of the deck too.
Kingdoms CCG is one of the most unique games on the market to date. I say this not necessarily because of it’s mechanics, which are somewhat largely borrowed from other games, but instead because of the overall package the game comes in. They did not just create the core card game and stop there. There is a fully fledged online experience here that goes beyond just buying packs and building decks which is rare to get on mobile apps of this sort these days.
Furthermore, everything just feels so polished here. The care and attention to detail shown by the developers makes this game pleasurable to navigate and play, rather than frustrating or a chore. The interface is well designed, clear and attractive. Everything is easily accessible, if hidden behind a menu or two on occasion. The production values are really high quality and this extends all the way from the art to the mechanics and card design.
There is also such a large card pool with several large expansions already released, making the strategic depth of this game already quite impressive. For those looking for a half-way point between an extensive deck-building strategy game like Magic: the Gathering and the simpler mobile style of games like Hearthstone, Kingdoms CCG fills that space perfectly. It’s a little bit more detailed than Hearthstone but not as overwhelming as Magic: the Gathering. I can definitely recommend checking out Kingdoms as an authentic digital TCG/CCG experience.
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