Although big studios are increasingly upping the ante for features in card-based mobile games due to the breakout success of titles like Hearthstone and Clash Royale, it’s refreshing to see some games that opt to strip away many of the complexities of current CCG’s and card battles, for simple, yet addictive gameplay.

Wartime X is just such a game, and though you won’t find in it any of the flashy 3D animations and graphics now commonplace in big studio titles, you will find an offbeat indie card battler that’s laser-focused on unique characters and a solid game engine. To put it plainly, other card battlers are playing hair metal, these guys are more punk rock. It’s a return to the fundamentals so-to-speak, with a few cool extras to keep players coming back for more.

A Uniquely Familiar Game Engine

Wartime X, at its core, is built on a game engine that fuses the card game classics Poker and War. This means that aside from learning the nitty gritty of character stats, most players will be able to pick up the game almost instinctively.

Players are dealt three card hands comprised of the standard 4 suits, with characters’ stats (their attacks, blocks, and holds) determining whether they can land a successful blow against their opponents, block an attack, or hold extra cards in the next round of combat to give them an added advantage.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that Wartime X gameplay is a blend of luck and skill. You just can’t win every hand you’re dealt, and at times it’s super frustrating. Much like a game of Poker, a few bad hands can sink you, but there’s still much to be said about the way you play the game. Unlike Poker, thankfully the 3 card hands mean that gameplay is very quick, this is something that sets Wartime X apart from many other mobile card games.

A Comic Book Cast Of Characters

The original cast of characters are the icing on top of the game engine that adds both an additional layer of skill to the game and provides a mission element to Wartime X. Players can unlock hero and villain characters and play through two separate mission campaigns that take place in the war-torn cities of the real world.

It’s sort of like Marvel meets Sin City, and the hero/villain dichotomy and the eerie all-blue design really drive that point home. I actually didn’t notice the completely blue design the first couple of times I played, but it really sets the apocalyptic tone of the game.

Cool Character Abilities

In addition to unique stats, each character has 3 abilities that can be used to dramatically affect the outcome of a battle, provided you use them strategically. Abilities, like other items in the game, come in limited supply, and there’s nothing worse than running out mid-battle because you used them for a quick kill on an easy enemy.

I recommend waiting until the third or fourth screen of most missions before resorting to abilities (especially in the later missions) if you can afford it.

Speedier Than Your Average Card Game

As I said before, one of the most unique features of Wartime X is how quickly the battles move. This one way that the game seems to be going against the grain of more methodical strategy card games, which while fun, often take some time to complete.

This leads me to my main gripe with the game.

Live PvP Would Make It Better

Though Wartime X does have a Leaderboard-style player vs. player arena that is unlocked when a player reaches Level 30, it seems weird that the game doesn’t support real-time battling. It’s fun to see how your team stacks up against other players’, but it would be more fun to directly face those players in battle. It’s a feature that would make the game drastically more competitive.

The Bottom Line

Wartime X is a lot of fun to play, and it’s a great reminder of how a game doesn’t need to be complicated or flashy to create lasting value for players. Adding a live PvP feature could really help the game to take off.

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