REVIEW: Deck of Heroes

I should probably have my nerd card revoked for saying this, but I’ve never even tried a strategy card game up to this point in my life, let alone bothered to understand its appeal. I mean, I can barely stand to play ‘Go Fish!’, let alone a variant of Poker or Rock, Paper, Scissors with some form of fantastical creature drawn on them. Not that you should confuse my lack of fluency in these games as contempt or a dismissal, I just really don’t think I’m any kind of authority to be talking about them. But, here I am, with Deck of Heroes ($1.00).

Minus a storyline or any kind of roving mythology, Deck of Heroes is simply a digital card game, albeit one with a decent amount of unique cards (108) and a more well-known, well-played game serving as its inspiration (that’d be Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone). While this game isn’t as flashy and willing to raid your wallet1, Deck of Heroes does let you roll as one of four races (Human, Orc, Elf, and Undead2), then put together a team of cards from that pool, or just choose from a handful of ready-made decks.

Once you’re in-game (there’s local and online versus modes, or you can play the A.I. solo while you wait for a challenger to show up), the setup and conditions for each turn-based battle are pretty straightforward; eliminate your opponent, and survive. This involves the use of said cards, representing a particular minion / bonus perk from your chosen class. Each ‘turn’ in a game allows you to stock up on mana (your means of buying cards / effects), or add cards to your available hand to choose from.

The ‘strategic’ part comes in how you stack your cards, and where you deploy your minions. You can place a maximum of six cards on the top and bottom rows, with the top row serving as your ‘defensive line’, soaking up any incoming damage and / or attacking your enemy’s lines. Each card has its own ‘attack’ stat and ‘health’ count to consider, so you’ll need to plan your round’s moves accordingly. Minions will cancel other minions out should the numbers be in your favor, or you can whittle down your opponent’s health. Other ‘buff’ cards can amplify those choices, such as by swapping cards / rows, spawning a random minion, increasing stats, etc.

Deck of Heroes - Screen

Unfortunately, the ‘strategic’ element can be largely circumvented simply by having patience. There’s little to stop you from building up your mana pool to its max limit, then repeatedly calling in heavy hitters to quickly take out enemy minions and / or wear down your opponent’s health. That lack of serious strategy hurts the game’s single-player portion (the A.I. is perpetually one step above ‘brain dead’), but Deck of Heroes is undoubtedly intended to be played against another human opponent, either online or locally.

The end result may not as fancy as other games of this sort, but Deck of Heroes does a passable impression of a strategy card game… provided you have a friend to play against. I can’t stress that part enough. If you’re in this purely for the hope that the A.I. can provide a meaningful challenge, you’re better off looking elsewhere for your fix.

  1. Sorry, Hearthstone, your not-so-F2P ways make for easy fodder. 
  2. This is XBLIG, so you know zombies have to make an appearance at some point. It’s required by law.  😉 

5 thoughts on “REVIEW: Deck of Heroes”

  1. Somewhat like Tim this was not my thing and honestly I was not at all hot on the idea. In fact… I actually tried to talk him out of making this game and in no small manner. That said I am really impressed by what he was able to roll out in such a short time compared to all those blatant quick cash in attempts Indie Games gets flooded with. This isn’t a cash grab it’s a dollar and there is tons of depth in strategy.

    Addressing your point of progression, this is actually something he is aware of and actually tried to strike the best balance. Matches ‘are’ designed to be fast and after so many rounds you will be throwing your heaviest stuff without fail. Given how well you’ve managed your heroes health directly relates to how many of those heavy hitting rounds you will survive. Still, I made it bluntly clear I’d personally like to see some ‘options’ for different modes and such for anyone who wants a longer game because as noted the current progression is very aggressive and lends heavily towards finishing games quickly.

    On a final note, this is not the last version of the game and at least some feedback out there should fuel at least one more if not several updates for this title. If you know this developer or follow him at all you know he doesn’t just leave his games to die and for that we can all be thankful because that is too often the case.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Quanrian! I agree, it’s not a bad game for what it offers, and I certainly never got the impression that it was meant as a ‘cash grab’. There’s games that feel rushed, and games that feel like blatant rip-offs, but Deck of Heroes isn’t one of them.

      As far as the gameplay goes, if the matches were meant to be ‘aggressive’ and end quickly, then I’d say the Dev succeeded. 😉 It seems that you’ve got the same idea that myself and Chris Antoni had, in that the game could use some additional work on extending the matches and / or finding a countermeasure against spamming the ‘heavy’ attacks to win. The ‘card’ genre isn’t one of my favorites, but I’m sure that other players would appreciate any updates the Dev has in mind. 🙂

  2. In testing I noticed the ability to go for 2 power and get heavy hitters as the best strategy. If the weaker enemies had some advantage (perhaps harder to hit, making heavy hitters vulnerable to them) it would have seriously changed the game. Then you’d want to split your summons between big and small cards to even out your ranks.

    That being said, I can see the amount of work the developer put into this and I feel really bad it didn’t do as well as his other games on the service. He’s definitely up there with BandanaGames as people I admire who make games on XBLIG.

    I think that if he allowed some sort of “play against the computer until a player becomes available” mode that it would really help you find people to play with. Drop in multiplayer definitely is the ONLY way to go with a new game on xblig in my opinion.

    1. Whoops! That’s on me for not explaining that part (I added a line to the review), but there is a drop-in multiplayer aspect. While you’re playing the AI, you can be ‘challenged’ by other players that come online. There’s also a ‘quick join’ that will immediately search for players, before putting you in a match with the AI if no one is found.

      This won’t have an effect on how easy it is to build up mana (you’re right, the game definitely needed some kind of limit / counterattack to this) and take over the game, but it does make a very honest effort to find you opponents. They’ve done a good job there. I’m still not a fan of the genre, though, so I’ll be waiting for Lootfest 3. 😀

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