Card Hunter – which you should absolutely play according to our Card Hunter review – was and is an X-Commy tactics game and committed CCG that didn’t quite make the dent it might’ve if it’d had, say, Ken Levine at its head rather than lesser-known Irrational co-founder Jon Chey.
But if anything can bring new players to the board, it’s imminent expansion Attack of the Artifacts – in which scheming, sentient antiques are coupled with an intriguing tournament system.
One of Card Hunter’s highlights was its flavour text, which played on the wide-eyed high fantasy of first-edition D&D to infuse its scenarios with plenty of malevolence, maleficence and the odd bit of malcontent.
The angry objects beneath Black Plume Mountain are happily in keeping with that vibe. It’s their machinations that’re responsible for a new set of endgame opponents – monsters which, said Chey, are “more monstery”.
“Less Goblins and Trogs,” he told PCGamesN. “More Intellect Devourers, Mind Flensers and Rust Creatures.”
We’re delving into the D&D underground, then, to test the mettle of already very-well-tested Card Hunter campaign veterans – though Chey assured us that 50% of the new modules will be “lower level stuff”.
Beyond that welcome garnish, the real meat of the expansion will be in multiplayer. Attack of the Artifacts will debut organised league play. Leagues promise in-game currency and, most intriguingly, constraints – like fixed decks which swap out your usual party members for monsters.
“One of the ones that we’ll be running when we release is Artifact Anarchy, where you play the three sentient weapons that are the stars of the end-game campaign content,” enthused Chey.
“That lets you get access to cards that you’d never get to use in regular play like Mental Flensing, a card that kills the target in two turns if they can’t get rid of it…”
On top of such mechanically-horrifying concepts, there’ll be a gaggle of new cards shuffled into Card Hunter: some to “shake up” players too comfortable in their decks, others to provide solutions to specific campaign problems, and still more to get the multiplayer metagame moving again.
All of which is mystery enough to merit a return to the finest skirmish-level strategy game since Firaxis’ XCOM, and probably till Julian Gollop finishes Chaos Reborn. Anybody else wistful for the whine of Gary the Game Master?