I summon Blues Eyes White Dragon…erm, wrong game.
Collectible card games have been making a comeback over the last few years. No longer are they only games for those kids you used to make fun of in the library at lunch. Instead, they have gained acceptance in many circles across generations. So when has it ever been a better time to launch a new property? Wizards of the Coast thought there was no better time than now. In a three-pronged attack, the company unleashed their newest CCG, Kaijudo. Marketed as a game for kids, WotC was looking to recapture an audience that’s been ripe for the picking. However, is Kaijudo the right product? Or is it going to be another fad, discarded in the toy boxes of tomorrow’s youth?
To answer the question right off the bat, yes. Kaijudo is the product that WotC needed, not only for diversity, but also for an audience that might not be ready for Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering. In a marketing move that I haven’t seen being attempted in some time, Kaijudo was launched into three different entertainment branches at once. Not only was the CCG being offered, but also an animated TV show voiced by Scott Wolf, an iOS game, and a browser-based game that you could bolster your deck by obtaining codes inside of the real booster packs. For a company looking to capture the attention of children, giving them the option to watch it on TV, play it on their phone, or play over the web was surely the right way to go. Kudos to Wizards of the Coast for aggressively pushing Kaijudo.
So what is it that makes Kaijudo worth playing though? It all comes down to the simplicity. Decks don’t reach egregious numbers like is possible in Magic: The Gathering. However, like its older brother, starter decks do start out at 40 cards with no limit to how many you can have in your hand at any given time. The rules of the game are easily picked up after a single test game. Even if you have any questions during it, a quick reference is available on the card sheet that has been provided with the deck boxes. It was quite a handy thing to have, especially when introducing the game to a child. A shield system is used to represent the life of the duel masters, and it is a much-needed boost in the way of simplicity instead of needing to use counters.
Simply stated, five cards go face down on the table. Once an attack lands, a shield is lost. Kaijudo turns this loss of life into a positive, as that card is then put into your hand. As usual, Wizards of the Coasts offer a robust FAQ for anything that might pop up during play.
Battles end up taking very little time to complete. Completing the five testing rounds plus a starter round took no longer than 45 minutes to complete. However, if this is from the actual length of gameplay or the balance of the decks is hard to tell. Turns are structured in such a way that there is little room for argument as to what will occur. With each side having a chance to attack and defend, it is no surprise that the game proceeds at a quick pace. In the attack phase of Kaijudo, you can choose to attack a creature or the opposing duel master. You better be prepared for some flavor text to kick in afterwards. The nice thing about Kaijudo is that many of the cards don’t leave you in the lurch. Using ability like “blocker” can really save your butt. There is no killer card either, though there are some in Kaijudo that will certainly ring your bell.
To give you an idea of what you’ll be dealing with, here is the flavor text straight from the official rules:
An untapped creature with “Blocker” can be tapped to block the opponent’s attacking creatures.
A creature with “Double Breaker” breaks 2 shields when it attacks the opponent and isn’t blocked.
A creature with “Fast Attack” can attack on the turn it’s put into the battle zone.
A creature with “Guard” can’t attack.
The “Powerful Attack” ability is always followed by a number, such as “+2000.” For example, a creature with “Powerful Attack +2000” gets +2000 power while attacking.
A spell with “Shield Blast” can be cast immediately for free instead of putting it into your hand from a broken shield.
A creature with “Skirmisher” can attack only creatures. It can’t attack your opponent.
When a creature with “Slayer” loses a battle, the other creature is also banished.
A creature with “Triple Breaker” breaks 3 shields when it attacks the opponent and isn’t blocked.
During testing between the Razorkinder and Tatsurion decks, it was noticed that games tended to be very one sided. The Tatsurion deck dominated the Razorkinder, even when decks were swapped between players. As the Razorkinder set takes a little more time to gather mana resources to play high cost cards, it becomes a game of trying to balance defense tactics against your shields. As the Tatsurion deck has a lot of cards with high power numbers, keeping those monsters on the table is a task in itself. Kaijudo, even for a simple game, causes you to think ahead multiple steps in order to combat this. Apparently though, I was just terrible with the deck.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cards, the card boxes, and the art of Kaijudo. Styling of the cards is very cartoon-ish, but this is to be expected in something that is branching out at this level of multimedia connection. Getting that out of the way, I have to comment that I really liked it. There are certainly some cards that are better than others, but the fact is, nothing looks terrible. It certainly beats some of the 90s-style 3D renders of the monsters than can be found in some places. My personal favorite has to be Scaradorable.
The quality of the cards and the boxes within the Kaijudo Battle Deck is something I cannot comment on positively. At first, I thought the tablet boxes were great. Then I found out they were cardboard after I tried to open one of them incorrectly. The edges peeled up, and the graphic layer separated. The deck spacer inside is just a thin piece of cardstock that barely keeps everything inside as well. If it weren’t for the magnets on the flap holding everything in, the boxes would be useless outside of looking pretty on a bookshelf. The Kaijudo cards themselves feel cheap; foil cards included. Most commonly, the complaint was that they were “too thin.” Foil cards have a coating on them that blocks liquid well, but is clearly noticed by your opponent if you have it in your hand. It was kind of a letdown to handle the cards given how much I prefer physical card games to digital ones.
Kaijudo brings with it an aura of simplicity when two people sit down at the table. Unlike many card games out there, a myriad of different techniques and effects don’t exist to muddy up the game. Because of this, the game moves much more smoothly through a match rather than spending time arguing over what the effects do and which take precedence. Removing that factor will really draw people of all ages. As Kaijudo is marketed toward kids, it was a smart maneuver to make it friendlier for people to get into. Being fortunate enough to have a young child to be able to witness just how easily kids could get into the game was something worth smiling about. Wizards of the Coast hit gold with Kaijudo, if only for giving a father and daughter some common ground at the dinner table.
Game provided by PR for review.