Collectible card games (CCG) are pretty hot right now in the world of video games, as the usually-tabletop medium has made its way into the digital world. So it was fairly exciting to hear the news that 1939 Games, founded by Guðmundur and Ívar Kjartansson, formerly of CCP games, have created a digital card game of their own.
Less exciting was finding out that it’s based on World War 2. This is well-trod ground in both literature and in video games, and you always end up side-eyeing anyone who’s super pumped to play the Axis powers. That said, given the vastness of World War 2, there’s still a lot of potential for strategy games, FPS and RPGs alike, so we decided to give it a whirl.
Starting up is a quick process–you’re given the option to choose a player name. It’ll pick your Steam account name by default, but you can enter whichever name you want. There’s also an option to sign up for news in your email, which you can skip if you desire.
The visuals are pretty sharp and crisp, with some neat animations that didn’t need to be included in a card game, but are a nice touch, enhanced by the sound effects to add to the immersive experience.
Which side are you on?
The game is pretty simple on the face of it. You pick a nation’s deck to start with, and can only unlock the other nations’ decks by defeating them in battle. You have a headquarters with a set number of “kredits”—each time you strike the enemy’s headquarters, some kredits are removed from their HQ, and you win when those kredits reach zero.
You are dealt an initial hand of four cards, each of which have kredit stats for defense and offense. Some of these are units like infantry, tanks and airplanes, but some of them are special effects cards or support cards that can either deal additional damage to enemy units or provide support to your own. Other cards provide special defenses, like smokescreen or anti-aircraft.
The battle begins
Fighting revolves around the front line. You advance cards forward and pit them against enemy cards on the other side of the line. Who breaks the front line depends on the offensive and defensive stats of the cards played. However, each card deployed costs a certain number of kredits, and you gain (or lose) kredits in battle, so you have to choose carefully.
As the battle continues, you can expect the front line to move forwards and backwards many times, especially if you’re new to the game. Don’t let that bother you; think carefully about which units to deploy, when, and against whom.
I randomly chose the Soviet Union, who after a tough struggle ended up successfully defending Stalingrad and defeating Danzig (the city; not the singer), thereby unlocking the German deck—which I’ll never be using—and crushing the AI-controlled Nazis.
This game is fun against the AI, but I suspect the real challenge comes from going against more experienced players online. Mercifully, there is no chat function apart from selecting a predetermined set of phrases to send to your opponent, none of them containing any slurs.
There’s a good balance between pure RNG and strategy, which isn’t easy to achieve in a CCG. This could easily be a game you could play with your friends and have a good time at it. But if you ever do encounter someone playing as one of the Axis powers, promise me you’ll do your best to utterly destroy them.
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