Is that a rocket in your pocket or are you just happy to still be alive?

Review: Missile Cards

Windows, coming soon to iOS •

YOU’VE PLAYED 5 hours.

Nice of Steam to keep a tally of how much of your life you spend gaming, isn’t it? I don’t really need Steam to explain that crap-I-stayed-up-too-late-gaming-and-now-it-is-2AM feeling, though. I shouldn’t have started playing so late, but then again, I didn’t expect to spend five hours on Missile Cards, a game I had just installed earlier that day. Problem is, I just couldn’t stop.

Missile Cards is a turn-based card game that mixes the defend-your-base action of the classic Atari game Missile Command with the solitaire-style tactics of Card Crawl. The result ends up being the perfect storm: a game that is simple to play yet hard to quit.

In Missile Cards your goal is to defend a base from inbound comets, nukes, and other threats using missiles, cannons, lasers, shields, and other defenses. Both threats and your defensive measures are represented by cards in a fifty-card deck. Cards are automatically drawn each turn and played onto a conveyer belt that moves steadily to the right. When a threat, like a comet, clears the conveyor belt it appears on the game board and begins plummeting, turn after turn, toward your base below. If left unchecked, comets will destroy part of your base and nukes will take out the whole thing. Sustain too much damage before you clear all threats from the deck and your base is annihilated. Smart thinking, and your array of defensive weaponry, are all that stand between you and annihilation.

The grunts all call this The Neidermeyer.

Defenses can be equipped into one of four slots and if a defensive card isn’t equipped before it slides off the conveyer belt it goes back into your deck. Each defense costs a certain number of action points to play—you gain two action points per turn—and must also charge up before it’s ready to fire. This creates a tense race to get a missile or cannon equipped and charged up before your base becomes just another crater.

Missile Cards is a high-score chaser and points are earned by destroying the aforementioned threats. The closer the threat gets to your base the more lucrative it becomes to destroy it. This push-your-luck aspect adds further tension to the gameplay.

Oh, this is the worst-looking Base Laser I ever saw. What, when you buy a Laser like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh?

Each turn is loaded with choices. Do you equip a strong defense ASAP or let it cycle back into your deck for use when you might need it more? Do you blast a comet or take the hit and save your defenses for later? Do you let a threat fall the maximum distance to earn the most points, or do you need to more aggressively clear the sky? These decisions stack up and make for interesting and, even better, harrowing turns.

With each successful defense, you’ll gain XP,  which lead to base points which improve your base’s defensive capabilities. You can increase your base health or regeneration and add helpful tools like lasers and shields. Recovering fragments of exploded comets and nukes allows you to construct new and more powerful tools, in the form of cards that can be added to the deck.

Bit of a close call, Nick. Let’s do better, okay?

Missile Cards is a hard game, and it’s meant to be. It rewards good decisions and strong lines of play and punishes failures with annihilation. There are five different bases, each with its own deck full of threats and defensive cards, and the challenge level ramps up steadily as you go.

If you’re looking for a game with fun turn-based tactics and high replay value Missile Cards is definitely for you. Its quick gameplay makes it ideal for gaming sessions from a few minutes to a few hours thanks to a high one-more-turn effect fueled by the ability to keep improving your defenses. The game is available now for Windows, but the developer, Nathan Meunier, is working on a mobile port which should arrive on iOS later this year. When it does, it could give Card Crawl a run for my go-to pocket timekiller.

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Notable Replies

  1. Definitely enjoy this, haven't made it past the second base yet though (f-ing nukes)

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