Editors' Choice Game of the Year 2015: Card Crawl

By Dave Neumann 30 Dec 2015 0
Have we mentioned that the art is great, too? Have we mentioned that the art is great, too?

I looked. I swear that I looked for any other game that might fit the bill for our Editors' Choice winner this year, but nothing came close to the love we have for Card Crawl. It's quite possibly the perfect iPhone game, straddling a line between tactical decisions, long-term strategy, and casual gameplay that made it only slightly less addictive than these Percocets I've been downing since yesterday afternoon.

There's not much more that I can say about Card Crawl that hasn't been covered in its review or numerous award posts. Luckily, I don't have to. I managed to get a hold of Arnold Rauers, one half of the Tinytouchtales team, and we chatted about Card Crawl and what happens now that they're rich and famous.

Pocket Tactics: At what point during Card Crawl’s development did you realize you had something special? Did you realize that you had something special?
Arnold Rauers: Card Crawl had a pretty turbulent prototype phase. I started with a completely different concept.

The first iteration was more luck based and had horribly complicated rules. After about a month, I completely stopped development and threw away the whole project. The second attempt was closer to my inspiration, Scoundrel, an unreleased game by Kurt Bieg and Zach Gage. This time i took the base of Scoundrel, which is the idea of valuing good and bad cards against each other. I added the hand slots idea early on and had a running prototype in about two days.

The backpack slot came later, but i knew that i had a really good game when i came up with the shop mechanic. In Card Crawl you can sell item cards to the little Shopbox next to the dealer. This the main way (without the ability cards) to gain more gold. The cool thing about selling cards is that it automatically makes the game harder since you might need the sold items later in the game. This is the one brilliant thing that i really enjoy and think is what Card Crawl makes a good game. Obviously the Ability-Cards are a big thing two. But the Shopbox did it for me.

PT: Which Special Ability is your favorite, and one that you will add to just about every game?
AR: I do like cards that can swing the game in both directions bad and good. From the first set i like Morph, but from the 1st expansion my favorite is Bounty, because you can do some crazy good scores with it. From the 2nd expansion Chaos is pretty cool, but can end a game pretty quick. The one that has the most utility is probably Devour since it can turn any Monster into another random Ability-Card which can be super powerful.

PT: Can you give us any hints or insight into where Tinytouchtales goes from here? What’s your next project, and what will happen with Card Crawl in the future?
AR: I’ve talked about that on my blog already. After my first somewhat successful game (the 9th in total) it’s always a tough decision what to do next. For me it comes down to finding the balance between "more of the same" and "creating something new". This way you can cater to your existing fans--there are, luckily, quite a lot--and also try to create something fresh that maybe new players could be interested in. This is why I decided to stay within the solitaire style card game genre. I think it’s a super interesting design space that has a lot of restrictions which are always good for creativity in terms of gameplay. I can say that i already have found Card Crawl's spiritual successor and am actively working on it. It’s very likely that we will announce it in January when the flood of games around Christmas has gone away. Mexer and Oliver have also confirmed that they are in for a second round, so awesome art and sound are guaranteed as well. Let’s hope that I can design a game that can at least live up to a fraction of Card Crawl's success.

For Card Crawl I will see what the future brings. I just recently posted about a possible balancing patch, which would include a few ability card design changes and a highscore reset. Also we are thinking about the Streak-Mode and if we should add something that makes Streaks more difficult over time. The good thing is it’s always a lot of fun to open up Card Crawl again and work on it, even after so many hours of tinkering.

PT: We've found it fun each time we open up Card Crawl, too. Thanks for chatting and congratulations!

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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