What happens when you combine card combat with basic RPG elements? You get Clash of the Dragons –an impressive and fun card battling game that places you in a fantasy world of magic, dragons, legendary weapons and of course, the ever present foreboding doom that you must prevail against. So the question is: is it any fun?
Well, the fact that this is a card battle game already alienates a lot of players –the good thing is that the combat is pretty straightforward and easy to figure out. While there are still a few unique rules in Clash of the Dragons, most of the important things can be figured out without the need for a tutorial but that does not mean we recommend skipping this helpful startup: going through the tutorial is actually pretty rewarding and it is short and brief enough to not detract from the overall gameplay experience.
The Web, Cards and Your Mouse
Online card battles are more than just fun, they are also very convenient. Sure, you will not get that authentic feeling of actually touching each card as it rustles against your fingertips when you shuffle and the digital format pretty much fails to convey the feeling of luck you get from drawing a great starting hard. Putting those purist conceptions aside, browser based card battling is actually a pretty great treat: you get to play and enjoy a whole roster of cards without having to spend your cash –well initially at least (Clash does make use of micro transactions in order to generate a wee bit of income).
Your Own Character
There is a very simple avatar creator function in the game that allows you to choose and determine how your character would look – on a basic level at least. You can edit the hair style, facial expression and skin tone (as well as your name of course).
The options are pretty rudimentary. For the face, you will get an assortment of facial expressions ranging from smiling to frowning. Some of the options look odd as they provide you with facial options that can only be roughly described by words ranging from stupefied to constipated. Seriously speaking, just stick to the first three faces available if you do not want to have a character that looks like it ate something gruesome.
The skin choices are a little more conservative, providing you with natural human shades of flesh ranging from almost alabaster white to dark. Nothing out of this world here like the colors green or blue –which would have actually worked with the weird faces. The hair selections are, at best, uninspired. While there are a few semi punk-pieces in the selection, going all cockney in a medieval world is not exactly a common notion of fun. So expect most players to stick with the more conventional cuts available.
Given all of that, those of you looking for more in-depth avatar customization will want to go elsewhere. However, this level of character customization does works fine with this card based RPG.
Your Own Path
Once you finish making your character, the game pops you straight into the tutorial stage for you to get the basic concept of the game: basically, you move around small quest maps and keep exploring until you encounter enemy units. You will then move into card combat mode where you and the enemy both aim to drain each others decks. When you win, you earn a few experience points and also some gold with which you can buy in-game resources.
The tutorial ends with you being given the chance to choose between four different classes of characters –each has its own unique specialty. The key factor here is that regardless of what class you are playing, this is still a card game, so make your choice depending on the character stat bonus instead of the what the character’s actual class is (basically, an assassin does not necessarily kill faster, but it does have a bonus to strength and agility).
Depending on your class, you will be more effective using certain types of cards –there is melee, ranged, dark magic and light magic –to name the basic types. And there are a few other extra card types that spice up the gameplay. No one class is necessarily better than the other, and it all boils down to your strategy and cunning.
Speaking of which, the game is pretty well balanced –the fact that no specific card is extremely powerful or no specific class is cheap to use make the game pretty enjoyable. And considering the fact that there is a social element to be observed here, we are very thankful for the fact that the game provides players with an even playing field.
Three Cards, One Goal
In actual card combat, you are given your deck (you start with 15 cards, but you may have up to a total of 20 at the start of the game), and you get to draw three cards to use as your weapons, skills or spells. The goal is to keep dealing damage to the enemy while keeping the damage you receive to a minimum.
The deck serves as the life gauge for each combatant so try to be efficient about consuming your cards. This is actually a good rule as it ensures that the combat does not take too long. When you run out of cards, you die –this makes it likely that players will find themselves in battles of attrition; which is something that often happens in other card games when some decks just refuse to die.
Depending on your class, some cards will become more efficient or powerful, allowing you do deal damage and receive bonuses that are beyond that of the card’s actual value. Each card provides players with both attacking and defensive values –which players should take note of early on. While not all of the factors in the card battles are easily felt at the start of the game, getting used to the system is pretty important later on.
The Other Players
One great thing about Clash of the Dragons is that there is actually a thriving gaming community that is supporting it. There are already plenty of interesting deck builds for every character class and playing style. Once you get the hang of things, you may want to look around for some rather clever ideas on how to create a good deck.
More importantly, you can connect with your friends in order to make your campaigns a whole lot easier. Though currently, most players would rather link up with clan mates instead of their own armies as the clan function provides players with a more stable group of people to play cooperatively with.
If teaming up is not your thing, then Clash of the Dragons still has something to offer: PVP combat. Facing off against other players can take a while considering that this is a turn based game so expect some matches to stretch out. At the same time, players of the game better practice a lot in the story mode before they can bring their A-game to the online matches since some of the participants can get really competitive.
If competing with other players really is not your thing (and there plenty of players that are like that), then you might find some satisfaction playing the game’s single player quests. There is a pretty large map with plenty of enemies for you to fight with –and we certainly recommend trying this first before starting any battles with more seasoned players.
Each enemy encounter will have you fighting against a small party of enemies and you must continuously beat them in card matches in order to deplete their HP. Some enemies take only a single match to bring down, some take several. Do note that you will be using up your energy points in order to start any card battles.
Energy points will replenish over the course of the day, with one point being restored every few minutes. Also, remember that leveling-up will completely restore your energy bar, so try to take that into account when dealing with enemies. When you have a choice of several enemies to fight, it is important to take note how much experience points you will earn and how much energy you will spent. When doing this, you could potentially play several matches in a row by making the most out of your level-up refill.
Easy to See, Easy to Play
While each card has its own unique ability, the game does not dwell so much on the small details. You can further beef up this approach by focusing on using cards that are the specialty of your class. This means providing melee cards to fighters and ranged attacks to assassins (same idea works with the mages).
Figuring out the flow of the battle takes all but a quick glimpse of the game board. In a single look, you can compare your remaining cards (this stack serves as your health) with that of your opponent. And also, you read a log of the battle’s flow at the scrolling text box on the right side of the screen.
Having a nice functional user interface is certainly a good thing, considering that card games are all about the menus, but there is also something enjoyably fantastic about the artwork used in the game cards. While the backgrounds and character details are pretty ho-hum, the card’s artwork is on a whole different level. If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you will love the impressively well detailed depictions of dragons, mages, kobolds, orcs, and many other unique creatures. Ok it’s hardly like the dragon encounters in Skyrim or DAI but for a card based game the developers have focused a lot of attention of the depictions allowing them to come to life.
A Fun and Enjoyable Card Battling Experience
From a development perspective, coming up with an online card battle game is easy from the programming standpoint, but critically insane in the planning stage. You have to take into account gameplay balance, replay value, how many card combination attacks are possible, what kinds of deck setups can be made, and of course, how many cards there will be in the game (and production-wise, digital is way cheaper than actually printing out and selling physical cards). That being said, the guys behind Clash of the Dragons did a pretty good job.
Of course, there is still room for plenty of improvement, such as enhancing the combat flow and user interface (especially the deck editor window) as well as providing even more cards to enhance the variety of gameplay offered. Farming is a big part of this game when it comes to improving your deck (and for collecting cards). Having the option to go all out with funds is one thing, but actually farming your way across battles was also made to become a rather enjoyable experience. If you did find this game enjoyable, we do encourage you to buy at least one gold card pack to show a bit of love for the folks behind the game (and it gives you some rather useful cards as well so win-win).
Overall, Clash of the Dragons is a fun and enjoyable card battling game that has a great single player mode that has a rewarding experience and a fun online versus community that provides you with plenty of great people to compete against.