Card Hunter has been slowly building hype for quite a while, and now it's time to build some decks and go a-questing.
Card Hunter is not an easy game to explain. It combines deck-building card games, board games, and traditional tabletop RPGs (pretty much every variation of analogue gaming) into a purely digital free-to-play title, and somehow it works. The game has attracted a lot of praise from its beta, and now the full game is ready to challenge all would-be adventurers.
The design of Card Hunter comes from Irrational Games co-founder Jonathan Chey, with help from Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield, and the feedback of 50,000 beta testers. The game is equal parts parody and homage to classic Dungeons & Dragons adventures, with combat taking place between cardboard miniatures on a tiled board (all digital, mind). Players control a party of three heroes, but rather than managing a list of spells and abilities, actions are drawn from each character's deck of cards. Each of those cards, in turn, is tied to a piece of gear: a sword might add several attack cards to your deck, while armor pieces add defensive cards to counter enemy attacks. You'll still be hunting down loot and slaying goblins, but the randomness inherent in drawing cards from a deck will make you think twice about how to equip your party.
Card Hunter is available right now, for free, at the official website. You can access the bulk of the game for free, but high-level adventures will be easier to handle if you bribe the dungeon master with pizza (the game's premium currency) for extra gold or loot drops.