This review hurts. Curious as to know why? This game hurts. Rarely, and we’re talking “lunar eclipse on Friday the 13th while the Cubs win the pennant” rarely, we find a game with no intrinsic value: A game lacking style, strategy, creativity or even fun. This game is lazy in the most frustrating sense. We’re not even going to attempt to give this game some sort of colorful context or thematics. This is Adventure Time: Card Wars. Adventure Time is a wonderful, wonderful series about a boy adventuring (and growing up, despite himself) in a post-apocalyptic world where kingdoms are made of candy, dictatorships are alive and well, magic is very real, and his older brother is a wise-cracking dog in a healthy relationship with a Korean-speaking rainbow unicorn. See, there’s a world to this show, a shockingly fleshed out and imaginative world that people of all ages want to explore and play in. Seriously, the fanbase for this show is ravenous and would probably drop some serious cash to enjoy One would assume making a game around it would not be that difficult.
So we’re baffled that they would choose the card game to be based around an episode where Jake, the dog/older brother mentioned earlier, forces Finn (the main character) to play an overly-complicated card game where Finn has to lose in order to keep Jake from going crazy. The episode actively mocks the eccentricities of Magic the Gathering’s mechanics and player-base, and it’s undoubtedly humorous. However, the irony of making a card game based on an episode mocking card games was probably lost on Cryptozoic.
Each player receives four over-sized cardboard slats which act as your lands. Each turn, you receive two points to spend playing monsters and constructs or casting spells. You get one creature/monster/poorly drawn thing and one construct per land. Each monster-whatever attacks the land adjacent to it. If there’s nothing blocking it, it attacks that player a la Yu-Gi-Oh. Whoever takes 25 hits loses the game. After one round the only thing really lost was patience and time.
You’ll only ever be able to have 8 cards in play maximum: By the time you’ve managed to strategize, you’ve probably already played a few monsters just to keep yourself afloat. Well, sorry bucko, you’re kind of stuck with them. Oh, but you just drew a monster that will let you do this cool thing and– Nope. Sorry buddy. You already have four monsters, so you’re stuck. Hm, well, maybe the constructs do something cool and game-changing? Oh, nope, sorry, they’re few and far between. In four games, we only ever had a maximum of two of them on the field. That’s a quarter of the “board” that’s completely unused. So, maybe the art can save it? Good art can salvage a mediocre game, just like mediocre art and hinder an otherwise wonderful game (we’d mention Ascension but half of Skip-A-Turn genuinely likes the sketchy, freaky art so…). Well, sorry again: The art here is a major disappointment. Adenture Time is a colorful, vibrant, superflat show that has the opportunity for some fun (if not simplistic) art. The game decided to keep the simplistic and superflat stylings but drop the fun, vibrant, colorful, and/or interesting parts. The art is either lifted directly from the show, is ugly in a not-charming way, or is just lazy. Some of the cards are honestly the exact same, with a change of hats and a recolor.
To make sure it wasn’t our own snobbery running rampant (we have played an excessive ammount of Hex Hex as of late), we even brought in an outside friend who adored it… For one round. Then seemed to lose any and all enthusiasm by the time it came to a second play-through. And then asked if we could go play Mario Kart 8 instead of playing a third game. That is a great way to just summarize this game: There are more fun things you can be doing then looking at bad art and a boring game.
Skip-A-Turn might have found it’s new standard for horrible games with this one. Munchkin might have the maturity of a 15 year old boy on Reddit, and Kill Doctor Lucky might be a slog, but at least there was effort there. A strong concept hindered by weak mechanics, or an attempt to reach a niche audience, there was an effort for a good game. This game wants you to buy it based on your love for an extremely popular cartoon, and nothing else, and that’s despicable. Games are brilliant little ideas in a box, not pre-processed American cheese that couldn’t be bothered to make itself presentable. Pass, burn, and drink to forget that this game has 107 “collectable” cards and sells it’s booster packs for 7 bucks a pop.
Buy Adventure Time: Card Wars
Skip-A-Turn Variation: Set off to find a new home: Go watch Adventure Time on Cartoon Network, play the Adventure Time Video Game, and wait for a good board game or RPG for the Adventure Time franchise.