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.
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.