July 19, 2012 by Jeff
For months now I have been getting press releases and links and information about a new card game called Kaijudo from Wizards of the Coast. It held almost no interest for me.
The problem is that is looked like Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic, or some other such collectible card game. How often do these sorts of games show up and then fade away. With a few exceptions these are generally fickle fads without staying power, so why invest my money and energy into acquiring and building a strategy for doing well at this new fad-game?
Then WotC sent me a review copy of the first Kaijudo offering, so I figured, “alright, fine, I’ll try it out”. My son (6 years old) was very excited when he saw the box and so the next day we broke it out and gave it a whirl.
I have to say, he loved it, and I found myself enjoying it as well.
The set comes with two pre-built decks with decent boxes for carrying/organizing your decks, play mats, and instructions on how to play that literally fit onto a small piece of paper.
That’s how easy the game is to learn and play.
The rules feel exceedingly like a simplified version of Magic. Strip out all the interruption effects, the large pool of life points, and using land for mana and you’re very close to this game.
It uses some interesting mechanics to replace these things that add a layer of interest to the game while keeping playing (and I imagine deck building as the offerings for the line grow).
Instead of land for mana, you actually use your normal cards for mana. So no need to make sure you have enough land in your deck and it adds the added strategic element of deciding which card your going to use for mana (making it otherwise unusable).
Instead of life points you have five shield cards. Cards drawn at random from your deck and placed face down, so no one knows what cards they are. When they’re gone you can be attacked directly…and one successful such attack ends the game. It makes the pacing of the game very fast. There are some creatures you can summon that can block attacks, but not too many, and with only 5 chances to survive before the game is over things move wrap up fast. What’s more, when one of your shields is broken in an attack, you get to add that card to your hand. So being attacked has a benefit.
So I guess the gist is that Kaijudo is interesting, simple enough to play that my 6 year old does an okay job at it (some of of the deeper strategy was difficult for him to grasp, but that was more due to a refusal to read all of his cards before he decided what to do), but complex enough that I enjoyed the strategy of the game.
It needs some growth to be sustainable, I think (more cards, more varieties) and how that happens will be the trick to the success of the line. It could become a money-vacuum that drives me out as other CCGs have, it could become overly complex to the point that I can’t play it with my young son…but it could, just maybe, become a really good bridge for my son to step up his gaming exposure to more complex games with time while still being fun to play for many many years.
I still don’t know if this is going to be yet another fad in the CCG turnstile, but for a relatively cheap price I can get the two first decks and have a great game to play between a father and a son.