I’ve been sidetracked from LOTRO the last few days playing the Card Hunter beta. Never played a tabletop RPG – have an untouched Pathfinder beginner’s set sitting on my bookshelf (guilting me with memories of that particular impulse buy from Amazon) nor an online card game, but I heard about the Card Hunter beta and decided to register.
The game is great – lots of fun. For a beginner like me it does a fantastic job of introducing you to the (virtual) table top RPG world. The whole thing is designed to look like a tabletop game. The graphics are cute and fun. The tutorial quickly takes you into an actual game & shows you what to do (basically step by step “click here”, “do this” “click that” sort of instructions). Despite the help it still felt a bit overwhelming at times. My fault though – I click before I think - it’s why they made me hand back the nuclear reactor keys. Some of the card descriptions also didn’t make much sense to me at the start (what is this thing called “dodge” … ah yes you can see I’ve never played a warrior well in WoW), but when you start to play & use the cards you quickly get to grips with it all.
Andy is your guide – he’s the virtual GM taking you through the game. His character adds another dimension to the whole thing – he makes you feel like you’re actually sitting around a table with friends playing a D&D game (or starring in an episode of Big Bang Theory where they do that – which is my only real D&D reference point). The constant chat about pizza (an in-game currency you can choose to use if you want to) made me hungry though (from now on Dominos will be rubbing their hands with glee every time I log on).
After one or two starter games you find out you’ve been playing Andy’s brother’s set of characters & you’re then taken to the character selection screen (the Inn) to start creating your own. I picked a Dwarf Fighter called Swedgin – he was later joined by an Elf Wizard called Seashell & a Human priest called Terema. Then I really started to play,
Currently my little team is Level 5 & I’ve played about 8 campaigns. I’ve had a brief foray into Multi Player mode with an entirely different set of characters (they give you a pre-made set to get started) but I only played a tutorial session against Andy & I lost – badly – so have gone back to single player campaigns for the moment, licking my dice induced wounds.
It seems I need practice – lots of it. This game is showing up my limitations on several fronts – not least counting and reading. You know those basic things they teach you in nursery school. Turns out I’ve been doing them rather badly all these years. I don’t know how many times I‘ve carefully moved my little wizard to a square 6 feet away from the enemy, perfect for my next spell, only to find out I’ve miscounted and I‘m one square out of range. How can I not count to six? I mean…really!
And reading- yes – I keep on misreading the cards and misunderstanding their effects. One time I helpfully cast Frenzy on the enemy & another time - again helpfully for the enemy – a debilitating spell on my fighter (who was only 1 health point away from death, so I managed to swiftly finish him off). My poor team - they tremble in fear every time I select a card. It usually means a painful death for one of them.
But I’m getting there. Slowly I’m working out how far I should run/dash/walk (finger on screen, tongue on lip, brow furrowed - one square, two squares, three squares, there, that does it - yes amazing how it works when I actually think about what I’m doing). I’m also learning how to recognise and use blocked terrain (boy did I celebrate when my elf hid behind a wall …bloody coward though) and how to pull together a deck that makes sense (in the beginning I was just looking for the highest gear level – WoW thinking I suppose - but then the card thing finally sunk in… ah yes I’m playing a card RPG - maybe I should actually think about the cards I want to use).
So the beta is great fun and very addictive. I lost a good two hours on it last night & have played a fair bit this evening. I’m learning to think tactically. “It’s like chess!” I shouted to my husband today, as my dwarf warrior got ready to finish off an enemy troll with a rather vicious chop to the head. Or at least he tried to. Turned out I was one square short. Guess I still need to work on the counting.