GAME REVIEW: Kaijudo

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Wizards of the Coast launched their newest trading card game earlier this month. The game is Kaijudo and we were lucky enough to be sent a few decks and booster packs to take a look. Given my proclivity towards certain card games the boss handed me the stuff and said do it, so after the jump, thanks to the help of a few friends, your Major Spoilers review awaits.

KAIJUDO
Style: Trading Card Game
Publisher: Wizards of the Cost
Price: Decks at $11.99 Booster Packs at $3.99

Kaijudo is a TCG much like any other. This particular one is a reworking of previous WotC game Duel Masters and is both based on and working with the Kaijudo cartoon. Unlike other games based on children’s fare, this does have the two companies working together toward a cohesive whole rather than the cash grab normally being made. That said there are a few flaws.

FLAVOR

Having never seen the series, nor heard of it until given the cards, my flavor experience has to be compared simply to the cards and game itself. On a macro level the game holds up fine. Summoning monsters and casting spells to get at your opponent in a battle is so simple it’s hard to miss. Kaijudo even manages to take it a bit further and really nails this front. On the other hand, the weird mix of technology and magic and some of the exceptionally ridiculous names caused by this pull me out of the mood a lot. There is also much variance between seriousness and goofiness, as evidenced by a card called Karate Carrot. Being pulled in a multitude of directions like this was problematic, but the game as a whole held together well.

MECHANICS

Of course, this is where the meat of any game lies, and Kaijudo is a game first. Wizards of the Coast makes another TCG that bears some comparison, and we’ll get to that in a bit (oh boy will we ever), but for now let’s focus on Kaijudo alone. Gameplay is very simple and rewards aggressive strategies vehemently, the faster the better. With no way to recover your life and only six attacks necessary to win, the game goes fast. That is not a problem in and of itself. Where the issue sits is with the lack of interaction this encourages. Unless your opponent has something that specifically states otherwise, you never have to attack their creatures, you can just swing for the win as fast and strong as possible and walk away victorious. This also makes the creatures that can block both far too powerful and far too necessary. But that’s what the game gives us, so we work with it.
Now, as for the comparison, Kaijudo very much feels like a lite version of Magic: the Gathering. The turn sequence is basically identical, the mana/color/civilization circle/setup is. Even the idea of spells and creature works the same, down to the use of tapping (only possible here because of Wizard’s ownership/copyrighting of that word). Where it differentiates itself enough to matter is threefold. First, there are no lands, instead any card may be played for mana instead and that card produces mana of whatever color it is. Second, combat is done individually and creatures attack either shields (explained in a moment) or tapped creatures. Third and most unique, there isn’t a life total, instead each player starts with five cards face down called shields. These shields are attacked and broken by your opponent, which puts the card in your hand. If you have no shields and your opponent attacks you, you lose. Many people see the first thing as better than Magic, I’m not one of them but arguing the point is useless. As for the second, Magic is better; this promotes less interaction which is just poor design. On the third, I like it. The shields are what give Kaijudo its own identity as a TCG.

BOTTOM LINE: Pass

I enjoyed my time with Kaijudo. The game itself is entertaining and unique. While the flavor dissonance bothered me, I imagine fans of the series may enjoy it more. The fact that this feels like Magic-lite both helped and hindered my experience, but never ruined it. There are really two reasons I won’t be getting the game myself. First, I’m not quitting Magic any time soon and I don’t need any more games adding to that money-sink. Second, the price tag is far too high with booster packs costing the same as Magic while having six fewer cards and I can’t help but feel that Wizards is shooting themselves in the foot with that. That said it still is a decent game that should at least garner the attention of fans and people looking to get younger players into gaming without overwhelming them which earns Kaijudo a respectable 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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