Probably the weirdest Venn diagram I’ve ever imagined in my head, consists of mathematics, role-playing games, and turn-based strategies. More often than not, you’ll see any given 2 of these combined – number-crunching DPS data on some MMORPG somewhere, monitoring resource intake so you can plan future moves in strategies, or just turn-based RPGs like say, Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. What if I told you there was a game that covered all 3 bases? That’s Calculords.
Calculords is the brainchild of comedian Seanbaby, of Cracked.com and EGM fame, and Ninja Crime – who may have the best studio logo I’ve ever seen – and combines all these into a sort of tower defense game. You have two card decks – a unit deck, and a numbers deck, and you have to combine these to storm your opponent’s base. Units have an assigned number value, and in order to deploy them, you need to create that number, using your number cards. You can get bonuses for clearing your hand of numbers, units, and an extra bonus if you clear both in one turn.
The battlefield is made up of 3 lanes where you can place your troops, and push on to the far side of the map. Units are either attack units, or push units. Attack units deal out good damage but have reasonably low HP, while push units are tanks and can take a lot of damage, but can’t dish out as much, and in some cases, not at all. Certain units, like motorbike-based enemies, traverse the map faster, some units have shields that need taken down before taking HP loss, and so on. You are given a starter deck to begin with, and cards can be obtained either via in-app purchases for expansions, or by defeating enemies. The free version drops 2 cards per win, with Fun Club members (their name for the premium, ad-free experience) getting an extra card per win.
The game looks like a NES game, and it would totally be right at home there, as there’s nothing super-complicated about the game, its controls or mechanics. Everything’s really easy to figure out, and while there may be some strategies for later battles that may need some thinking about, but it’s simple enough that you shouldn’t be stuck for too long.
As far as the freemium model goes, I haven’t bought any of the expansion decks (6 new cards, and adds duplicates of these cards to win drops), but with the way your unit cards are pulled randomly, I can’t imagine that it makes the game very “pay-to-win”-like, much like many other mobile games. Calculords is far from impossible to play without spending a penny, and ads are restricted to one at the end of every battle, so they’re very unobtrusive and don’t detract from the game experience.
Rounds don’t take terribly long to blaze through, they’re usually about 10 or 15 minutes each, so it’s a great fit for mobile platforms, where you can just have quick games while travelling. What I really like about it is that, in an era where monetizaton in mobile games is everything, losing rounds doesn’t encourage you to pitch in more money in order to make things easier. That’s probably the main part of what makes me want to recommend this game to friends.
Appetizers is a bite-sized look into the growing mobile gaming world. The experiences may be shorter, but they’re just as sweet as a full-course meal.