Apart from my life-absorbing hobby of video games, I also spend a lot of time at the tabletop, and some of my favorites are card games. I am not talking about Solitaire here, more like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh, only without the obscene amount of card collecting, AKA spending lots and lots of money. The games I play are suitable substitutes to the complex style of collectible card games without hurting the wallet, deck-building games such as Ascension, Dominion, as well as more obscure imports such as the anime fanservice ridden Tanto Cuore. So when I heard about Sword Girls, it piqued my interest and I signed up and got into the beta.
Sword Girls an upcoming PC game developed by Zeonix promises a melding of two of the things I have mentioned: a ton of anime fanservice, and a ton of money. Money down the drain, that is. Much the like the recent Pokemon Trading Card Game Online Beta, Sword Girls is a flash based collectible card game where you actually buy the cards, using them to construct a powerful deck for use in both single and multiplayer matches. Using the recent example of many free to play games, Sword Girls doesn't “require” that you pay any money in order to play it; a least that seems to be the apparent intention. But the offer is there if you want to. And if you don't want to spend the time earning materials in game to craft these same cards, you are going to have to pay.
It isn't all bad, by any means. The game is intimidating at first for those who are not familiar with tabletop games, and the tutorial doesn't do an excellent job of helping new players in, but Sword Girls can be quite a bit of fun once you have taken the time to wrap your head around it. The cards used in the game can essentially be boiled down to character cards and spell cards, with some cards being used to battle your foe directly, while others are used to add enhancements and modifiers to aid you in this goal. Sword Girls feels quite automated, with the players only direct action in the game being the play of actual cards; after that, the game goes on auto-pilot for the rest of the round while it calculates who attacks who and how many life points are subtracted from each player before having you do it all over again.
To simplify, in Sword Girls you build a deck of thirty cards using booster cards and starter packs which are purchased before play. You take this deck and draw a hand of cards that are used to battle. Your opponent then does the same. The person who plays the right combination of cards, has the best cards in his deck, and builds the best overall deck is usually the one who comes out on top: the meat of the game is deck management, and that is where most of the strategy lies.
The real draw of Sword Girls compared to other similar titles is the distinct bishojo anime theme which will be adored by those who are attracted to that art style. Nearly every single card features a unique female character, some more racy than others, offering just enough shameless fan service to drag in the intended crowd while not horribly frightening everybody else. In that regard, Sword Girls definitely excels so far in what it sets out to do.
As for the game itself, it is an early closed beta right now, and will be on hiatus for a month before coming back in November. It has its problems, certainly; I really would have loved some video resolution options, as being forced to play in a small window is a drag. The game really feels like an exercise in futility if you don't have all the best cards, and the gameplay feels a little chaotic and random, but the ability to use materials to craft cards as an alternative means to buying them is a smart move, and one that certainly feels a little more modern than something like Magic: The Gathering Online.
Sword Girls is shaping up to be an interesting game, and fans of card games and anime alike should flock to this one. And hey, while you're at it, why don't you check out Tanto Cuore?
Sword Girls Beta Impressions
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