Update: All keys are gone. Winners will be notified by e-mail. Thanks to everyone for participating!
Blue Manchu kindly provided us with 30 beta keys for Cardhunter. To enter, just a post a comment on this blog post and make sure your e-mail works - that's it :). We'll contact the first 30 entries via e-mail. First come, first served.
Cardhunter offers turn-based strategy in the style of a tabletop role-playing game. You can either play through a very challenging single-player campaign or battle it out against other players online. The game is browser based and free-to-play.
Gamers who are passionate tabletop role-players certainly seem to appreciate Cardhunter's setting. Personally, I wasn't too interested in the retro-style, pen & paper roleplaying imagery and much more curious about the strategy part.
Overall I thought it provided a good challenge - a decent treat for turn-based strategy fans. I felt the difficulty between different adventures wasn't always linear, but overall there was a steady-increase and the last few ones might even managed to get you stuck for a few hours.
A lot of the difficulty comes from the fact that you have to figure out how to deal with different types of enemies: From slow-moving Trolls that hit hard, to super mobile ranged-damage dealers, and zombies that are stronger when attacking with other zombies close by. Cardhunter definitely provides a very diverse range of opponents. You also have to figure out how to move in different maps and terrains. There is no shortage of having to employ situational awareness.
However, I felt as you get close to the final showdown, things become more gear-dependent (quick advice on the side: never sell any gear, the equipment system means you might have to re-equip a lower-powered item at a later point). This can be a boon if you love gear-collecting-style games. The fact that you are limited in how many high-level items you can equip, makes it important to hold on to excellent lower level gear that won't count (or not as much) towards that level and pick your few high-level items carefully.
In a way, the item dependency (and unfortunately also your strategic efforts) can be set off by a luck factor. A quick primer on how combat works: Each character has a card stack from which they draw 3 cards at the beginning of each round. The actions your characters can take in each turn are limited by the action cards you have drawn. The cards in the stack are determined by your character's gear, but which of those you have available in each round is up to your luck. Surrounded by enemies and only drawing movement cards? Tough. Far away from the action and your best melee attack card pops up? Tough. But of course this can also work in your favor.
You can beat the entire game without having to spend a single dollar on it, though expect some serious challenges in campaign-play that way. If you are looking for a more casual gaming experience, you can make things easier by purchasing some of the in-game currency: Pizza. Any pizza you buy in the beta will be re-credited to your account for use in the live version. If you're looking for the best way to go about this, Tobold has written a great post on making the best out of your money in the game.
Overall Cardhunter is a great strategy title that'll easily provide you with some turn-based challenges for a month or more and at its price point of zero, it's an absolute steal.