A few months back, I saw this post on Penny Arcade about Card Hunter: http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/card-hunter-closed-beta-hands-on-classic-dd-filtered-through-a-card-game-an
Which prompted me to go and sign up for the beta.
Last week, I finally got an invite to join. I decided to play against type on my Fighter, going Elf instead of Human or Dwarf. This means that my Fighter is more like a mobility Rogue, ad my Dwarf Cleric is in some ways a better tank than the Elf.
The thing that Card Hunter captures is the classic dungeon-crawling, cardboard stand-up using kind of game from the days when you were ten and playing D&D in the living room, no one particularly interested in story.
It’s been interesting for me to see the Deck Building game style applied to a very familiar setting and genre – Deck Building games have been building in popularity over the last few years, largely on the back of the success of games like Dominion, Ascenscion, Thunderstone, and so on. For more on Deck Building games, check out this list on Board Game Geek: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/68782/top-10-deckbuilding-games
In Card Hunter, each piece of equipment for your characters comes with its own selection of cards. A sword for my fighter might come with several types of chop cards, which attack two enemies at once, but also include a parry, which gives a chance to block an opponent’s attack. A Wizard, on the other hand, would have Arcane Items that give them their rays, bolts, and blasts. Each character can level up and gain more slots, and with each new slot comes the chance to make your deck bigger an more diverse, able to handle stranger challenges like enemies with heavy armor, or who unleash devastating attacks. You can even equip racial or class-based skills that will give several-round buffs to the healing that you do or the damage dealt from certain types of attacks.
In terms of edition, Card Hunter most resembles 4th edition D&Din terms of how combat works, since the individual attacks all have specific statistics and levels of frequency. But again, that style of D&D was largely informed by MMORPGs, where you could have an array of special attacks and it was easy to use, since the computer did all the back-end mathematics and book-keeping.
Card Hunter, so far, is no revolutionary force in gaming, but if you want a dose of some old-school D&D and don’t have the time to gather a handful of friends around the dinner table and bust out the Dungeon Master’s Screen to send your friends through a module or your painstakingly-crafted homebrew setting, it may be just the thing to whet your appetite.