Arithmetic/comedy card game Calculords busted down the doors to my brain this weekend and is still holding it hostage. Calculords gives you a set of numbers and three mathematical operators (add, subtract, and multiply) which you use to summon cards of different costs into a lane-defense battle — and it’s completely engrossing. I’m obviously a true believer, but the game is bound to be divisive — at base it’s about remembering your multiplication tables from third grade, which is no doubt the gaming equivalent of a broken glass-eating contest to many. No matter what, it’s inarguably the most original game we’ve seen around these parts in a long time.
This is a deep and unusual game, so here is some help with the basics.
The most important thing to do each turn is get the first CALCULORD BONUS. Even if you only deploy one or two cards, be sure you can clear all your numbers. If you don’t do this, you’ll probably get overrun and atomized. The most basic way to Calculord is to make the number you need, then turn the rest of your numbers into a 1 or a 0.
The big numbers are intimidating, but less so when you break them up. 115 may seem stupidly impossible to math together, but it’s just 23 times 5 and anyone can calculate their way to those numbers. I doubt anyone needs my help with the number stuff, though. We all went to third grade– it’s pretty amazing how quickly your times tables come back to you when they’re all that stand between you and cosmic death.
Tactically, WHEN you deploy your guys is as important as WHERE– if a unit buffs people, you want him to go in last. If a unit has DOUBLE TIME, you don’t want him getting jammed up behind your slow units. If a unit has lots of HP, you should probably play it first so he ends up on point and blocks bullets for your fragile guys.
A lot of players have been getting annihilated by the game’s second boss. If that’s not happening to you, I’m proud of you, Star Nerd. If not, here are some hot tips.
- KRAK sends exploding lunatics out every turn in lane B. So unless you want your units to also be exploding lunatics, forget about mounting an offense in lane B. Instead, drop a unit there every few turns. It will die spectacularly, but it should also set off a chain-reaction of explosions that will kill her entire column. Don’t wait too long to do this. If they’re close enough to your base when they pop, they can kill you.
- Push units (green cards) are vital, and she has none in her deck. A single brave unit of yours can block a dozen of hers. Your guy will go out hard, but his sacrifice will prevent any of those enemies from damaging your base that turn. The way combat works is that you don’t hit your opponent’s base if they have a unit protecting it. Push units shove enemies back before a fight, hopefully squashing them against their base and leaving it wide open to your lasers.
- Focus on lane A or C and put every unit you can there. Each unit you put into play will shift others to the right to make space for itself. If the lane is completely full, you can actually kill enemy units this way. So the more space you take up, the better. Vehicles are perfect for this since they often take up two zones. Cards that have the SQUAD ability are great too.
- Whichever lane you pick to put your army, protect the other two with the bare minimum of resources. Turn disposable trash units into heroes by throwing them in front of KRAK’s men. GUERRILLA STRIKE is a tactic card you start with that will hit all enemy units in a lane for 1. With her fragile, fast soldiers, this can sometimes wipe out a huge chunk of her army.
- Hope that she doesn’t counter your brilliant strategy. Her deck isn’t exactly built for cleverness, but at any time she may double the speed of her troops, turn them all into push units, or instantly blast a column of your men for major damage. So I guess my tip here is that a single-minded battle plan only works until it spectacularly doesn’t. Supplement your deck with tactic cards to add some versatility.
- If you’re still having trouble beating her, go back to FANCYBOT and pound on him until you’re a higher level and have better cards. Despite him being a terrible fighter, he drops some good stuff like SMC P1 TANK, NEUTRON SNIPER, and TURBO SAUCER.
- Calculords is the philosophical opposite of a pay-to-win game, but if you’re still having trouble, the store has some pretty crazy powerful cards you can just buy. Each of the five mini-collections ($1.99) are designed to power up a different deck-building style. I’m personally into spazzy, risky, rush decks, but a defensive deck where you armor and buff the hell out of one push unit is probably the best way to take out CPL KRAK. Each commander has a few holes in his or her game that clever players will be able to exploit, so my main advice is to believe in your brain and let it lead you to space victory.