Published on September 10th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
“I Floop the Pig!”
Card Wars: A Card Game for Cool People
This past year Cryptozoic added another popular license to their library of games. Partnering with Cartoon Network they produced Card Wars: a game that you might remember seeing in the Card Wars episode of Adventure Time played by Jake and Finn. The episode was an exaggerated and fantastical representation of many people’s (or maybe just my own) experience of trying collectible card games for the first time. It addressed many of those collectible card game staples: beginner’s luck, unfair card draw advantage, taunting your opponent and even a Magic player’s worst nightmare, land destruction. Card Wars is easily the most beginner friendly and silliest collectible card game I’ve ever played.
Cards Wars is more similar to a living card game model in my opinion as buying booster packs isn’t really needed to play and enjoy the full game. To get into Card Wars a player will need to purchase at least one of the collection packs as they are the only way to get Landscape cards needed for the game. Each collection pack has two pre-made decks (40 cards each) for each player and eight Landscape cards (four for each player). Right now there are two different collection packs: Finn (Blue Plains Deck) & Jake (Corn Deck) and BMO (Useless Swamp Deck) & Lady Rainicorn (Sandylands Deck). Coming soon will be the royal beatdown box featuring Lumpy Space Princess (LSP) & Princess Bubblegum and their set will introduce the concept of dual lands (using two Landscape types) and a new Landscape called the NiceLands. The introduction of new collections help keep the game fresh and with each collection pack around $20 buying the new sets for cards won’t break the bank.
I assumed that the decks in the game would be character specific like Lady Rainicorn would just have rainbow flying creatures; but that is not the case. You aren’t playing a character as much as you just have a deck that you can modify and change at any time. The pre-made decks are associated with a character and if you ever want to reset your alterations, Cryptozoic’s website has a decklist for each character.
The art featured in Card Wars are creatures, buildings and spells that you would probably find in the Land of Ooo and were even in Jake and Finn’s decks in the Card Wars episode. If you aren’t a fan or haven’t seen some of Adventure Time you may be put off by the silliness and rather generic titles of the cards. For example, in the BMO/Lady Rainicorn pack (all images featured in this article are from that pack) there are SandyLands Creatures ranging from ‘Wall of Sand’ and ‘SandSnake’ to ‘Lost Golem’ and ‘SandWitch’. There are also UslessSwamp cars like ‘Green Merman’ and ‘Extraordinary Spider’ to ‘Hot Eyebat’ and ‘Tree of Undeath’. I like to keep in mind that this card game is also probably more for kids who have different needs from a card game than an adult would. A kid probably isn’t interested how your 1/1 first-strike, red/black creature fits into the Ravnica lore and might find more enjoyment in saying things like ‘I floop, The Pig’ or ‘I attack with Green Cactiball’!
As in typical CCG fashion, the game supports two players in a head to head match and if you have played Magic the Gathering ever in your life, learning Card Wars is a breeze. To show how easy it is to learn without context, here is the turn sequence as printed in the rulebook:
1. Ready all of your cards.
2. Draw a card.
3. You have two actions to spend.
4. Do you want to Floop?
5. Do you want to spend 1 action to draw a card?
7. End of turn.
That’s it. No worries about mana ramping, all cards cost two or less and yes, some are free, and you can always draw a card as an action so also no worrying about top-decking or running out of cards. Each Landscape a player controls lines up with the opponent’s Landscape to create a lane. Each lane can only fit one creature from each player and those creatures will attack each other unless you Floop-ed them to use an ability. A Floop-ed creature cannot attack and will take damage. If there isn’t a creature in the lane to take damage, the player takes damage. The first player to reduce the opponent from 25 to 0 hit points is the Cool Guy aka winner! This game is so simple to learn and teach that you could play this game right now after reading this.
With Card Wars’ simplistic phases and options it is easier for players to focus on using their creatures, spells and buildings to work together. The starting decks are full of synergy and have suggested strategies that are pretty easy to figure out on your own. Lady Rainicorn’s basic strategy is to move her creatures around and send them back into her hand to remove damage and continue to benefit from creature abilities that trigger when they come into play. BMO has a deck where spells and characters become more powerful when she has more cards in her discard pile and she has a lot of discard pile retrieval.
Card Wars is however not immune to bad card draws. Even though you don’t have to worry about land or mana, it is important to still pay attention to your starting hand and mulligan when needed. You don’t want to end up like me: having beefy creatures in hand that I can’t play until I have met the ‘5-10 cards in my discard pile’ condition.
Cryptozoic is very good at turning out licensed games that feature simplistic gameplay and design which captures the brand and audience of that license and Card Wars is no exception. Compared to the popular CCGs I attempted to play as a kid like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and my most recent attempt with the My Little Pony CCG, Card Wars is a much better card game because it features gameplay that is very easy to comprehend and strips away a lot of the upfront experience barrier that new players face in those other card games. I feel that Card Wars excels as a collectible card game because it doesn’t take the setting, characters and game too seriously. It’s hard to be a fiercely competitive and serious player when your characters are Sand Knights who wield striped umbrellas and sand castles for heads. If you’re a fan of Adventure Time or know of a kid who wants to try getting into CCGs with their friends, Card Wars is an excellent starting point.
If you want a more vivid and 3D-virtual gaming experience while playing Card Wars, there is also the iPhone app where players can create digital decks, face AI opponents and battle your favorite Adventure Time characters across the entire Land of Ooo and if you also have the physical card game, some cards contain codes that let you unlock cards within the app.