Card City Nights 2
Children's Card Games, In Space...2!
Much like my first impressions of Crash Drive 3, I picked up Card City Nights 2 in the same Fanatical bundle. This one was a unique pick as indie TCG games are unique to come by. I have covered indie roguelikes that featured cards as a core gameplay mechanic. One Step From Eden was one such title. CCN is a Trading Card Game through and through. It is also an original one not based on an existing game.
My experience with the series is limited. Despite the "2" in the name, I have not played the first one. Steam reviews state that the original is remembered fondly. The second game expanded on mechanics that were either a hit or miss. Considering that this was all new to me, I didn't have the original game to go by. I did, however, make some comparisons to other card games I've played.
Yu-Gi-Oh Meets Final Fantasy 8?
If I were to describe the gameplay of Card City Nights 2, it would be a mix of several different TCGs. There are elements of Hearthstone, specifically the UI surrounding each player's hit points. Gameplay-wise, I'd compare it to Yu-Gi-Oh, Connect 4, and the Final Fantasy 8 minigame, Triple Triad. As the latter may not be as well known as the others, Triple Triad involves placing cards anywhere on a field. The cards "connect" with others and the strongest number "beats" the other card. For example, if a card had a 4 towards its right and a card with an 8 on its left side was placed next to it, the card on the right would "win."
CCN 2 doesn't follow the rules of Triple Triad or Yu-Gi-Oh, with the latter borrowing elements from its "Link Summon" mechanic. There are arrows assigned to each card that "point" in a general direction. When two arrows from different cards point towards each other, they "link" and a connection is formed. In basic terms, you link three cards together with arrows pointing at each other. Then after a set number of turns, any card that has a resolution effect is activated. Usually, these effects are "After resolution, deal X damage to the opponent," but some are unique in terms of healing or disabling effects.
There Are No Designated Zones, It's Every Duelist For Themselves
Historically, TCGs features two sides of a board (or multiple depending on the number of players). Players place their cards in their zones and interact with each other in that way. In Card City Nights, the entire 3x6 board is open for both players meaning board placement is even more important. If you have a card that points to the left and lower-left corner, you'd want to place the card in an area that will net you an advantage.
Conversely, if you see your opponent is starting to build a link combo, you can disrupt it by placing one of your cards in their spaces. Card City Nights 2 is a simple game to grasp as building combos is a key element. Limit or eliminate the means to do so and you'll win games. Take too long in drawing cards and you'll lose health as well. It becomes a question of whether you should start your links and do damage to your opponent or limit their progress instead.
CCN 2's Art Style Is Goofy Yet Charming
Everything about Card City NIght 2's aesthetic is the type of goofy charm you would expect to see in old Newgrounds flash animations. It coincides with how silly the story gets, as it is self-aware. The game begins with the protagonist who wakes up in a freezer and upon realizing they've been there for months, are told about a card game tournament. That's it. There's no further explanation as to why I've been in a freezer or no cause of concern. Just card games.
You visit various locations in space and duel others via card games while also talking to the various residents. An example of how self-aware the game is is with the first opponent. To be considered a part of the league, the player has to defeat an "F-Rank" player. They are by no means confident or callous, rather they accept that they aren't a good player. This is almost yelling at the player that this is a "tutorial fight," but it comes off as humorous. Most of the game's dialogue comes this way, with character designs as interesting as the personalities themselves.
Despite Being Five Years Old, The Scene Is Still Strong
While nowhere near as massive as the heavy hitters including MTG Arena or Master Duel, Card City Nights 2 routinely receives updates and a core player base thanks to the Steam boards and Discord. For less than a dollar currently (and around $7 regular price), there's a surprisingly in-depth TCG game with unique rules and a warm charm.
Comparable to other TCG games including SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters Clash, there are no "pay 2 win" mechanics. As you play you earn more cards that better suit a specific game plan. While it has a decent learning curve, once players get the hang of it, CCN 2 is a fun game to play in bursts.
Card City Nights 2 is available on Steam and mobile devices.