Review: Tekken Card Tournament (Mobile and PC)

Review: Tekken Card Tournament (Mobile and PC)

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These cards are currently exclusive to Datablitz.

Last week I made a post about a Tekken Card game being officially available in Datablitz. The card game was originally all digital on the iOS, Android, and PC (web) platform when launched back in April 2013 while Namco announced that physical cards would be released this July. I certainly wouldn’t imagine fighting game fans, Tekken fighting game fans or even core gamers to give a damn about this card game because it has the killer combination of features that scream “money sink” but In spite of everything that would make us go “meh”, I felt Tekken Card Tournament is a game worth exploring because: a.) it’s a card game (I used to be card flopper a long time ago so there is some appeal and novelty to me) and b.) mobile games are short pick me-up games which are designed to be played over an extended period of time in bursts of short game sessions. Despite the notions of “core gamers” that mobile games do nothing for people but suck them dry of money, these games actually serve the purpose of entertaining people and giving them that instant gratification (of kicking ass) in ways even handheld console can’t. Tell me, when was the last time you fired up your handheld console, got into a game anytime, anywhere, and finished a match online against a real person in under five (5) minutes? Mobile games provide you with that entertainment during the shortest downtime and what better way to enjoy a mobile game with familiar characters from a familiar franchise with sound game mechanics? Mobile games certainly won’t replace core games but they’re here to stay so we might as well enjoy them too whenever we can.

This is  a review of Tekken Card Tournament on how the physical cards function to complement the game itself. I will not treat the physical cards (which you can theoretically play without the mobile app) separately because the focus of the game in general still lies within the digital realm of the game.

Here’s what you need to know about the game for starters:

  1. You need a deck of fifteen (15) cards to play the game. You will be given enough cards to fill out a deck if you play the mobile/web game where you need to make an online account. Otherwise, you will have to buy a lot of booster packs to play the game. There are no starter decks to my knowledge.
  2. You can choose from the following characters: Kazuya, LiliPaul, Nina, Xiaoyu, Panda, Yoshimitsu, and Law while Heihachi is a physical booster pack exclusive.

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  3. Speaking of online, the Tekken Card Tournament app requires you to be connected to the internet to play. #dealwithit
  4. The game is cross platform so you can log in your account on any supported device (iOS/Android/PC).
  5. You can play against computer opponents with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, and hard) which are unlocked at certain levels or face-off against other players online around the world in the Free Fight (where you can battle people from your friend list or random strangers) or Online World Wide Tournament (ranked matches where winning earns you points and losing decreases said points.)
  6. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s HP to zero and to do that you have three simple commands to choose from every turn:
    1. Focus: This command allows you to draw a card from your deck (both players start with zero card in their hand)
    2. Attack: Choosing this will expend all your cards and deal damage to your opponent. The damage is calculated based on the sum of all the cards’ attack value.
    3. Block:  While self explanatory, the block command can only nullify attack values of the first two cards of your opponent while the maximum hand size is five (5) cards. Against a full hand, you can only block two out of three strikes.

Tekken Card Tournament stays true to its fighting game roots. The action is fast with each player’s turn having a ten (10) second time limit, players are forced to think on their toes and matches will last from 3 to 5 minutes only and that’s pushing it.The game shines when you are able to assemble a proper deck. However, there hurdles to building your deck. Like any collectible/trading card game, buying cards will cost a lot of money. While most cards can be purchased with gold (the game’s in-game currency you can acquire by playing in matches) they are extremely expensive and popular cards are normally unavailable for purchase as singles in the online card market. This is why there are booster packs available in the digital store and the release of physical cards which you can trade with other Tekken Card Tournament players. If you’re not particularly interested in the physical cards, you can trade QR codes of each card with players around the world (in an ideal setup where people don’t scam you) without having to ship cards to each other or just find like minded people locally and trade cards with them.

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There are three types of digital booster packs in Tekken Card Tournament:

  1. First Pack: The only booster pack you can buy with gold. This pack contains three cards and a chance for one to be an elite card: an upgraded basic card with silver borders. Cards from all seven (7) characters will appear randomly. This pack costs 3,000 Gold
  2. Themed Packs: These are sold for credits (real money) and contain three cards where you are guaranteed one (1) elite card and a chance to get a rare card (the next level card after elite, it has a gold foil border). Theme packs focus on four (4) specific characters depending on the set. These packs cost 150 credits.
  3. Ultra Pack: The most expensive booster pack sold for credits contains five (5) cards and guarantees you one rare card, a chance at an elite card, and also a chance to get a super-rare card. This pack costs 400 credits.

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You cannot trade digital cards with players but you can sell cards you don’t need at the card market place for as low as ten times the card’s value, check out the simple list below:

  1. Basic cards (bronze boarders) cost 5,000 gold to buy and sell for 500 gold.
  2. Elite cards (silver boarders) cost 20,000 gold to buy and sell for 5,000 gold.
  3. Rare cards (gold foil) cost 80,000 gold to buy and sell for 40,000 gold.
  4. Super Rare Cards (marked “SR” with a special gold stamp boarders) cost 640,000 gold to buy and sell for 320,000 gold.

While it looks like you will be compelled to spend money to enjoy the game, you can take the long route of grinding for gold AND credits to complete your deck. That’s right, you can earn credits through ranking up, rolling it as a match bonus reward, unlocking simple achievements (such as playing in matches X times), and participating in the online world-wide tournament (all rankers no matter what position will receive credits).

You can also earn gold in a similar fashion through match bonus rewards, achievements, and a daily log in reward where each consecutive day you log in ads a +1 to the multiplier of the gold bonus you get for  just logging in. As of this moment, I am on my 8th consecutive day logged in so I have a x8 multiplier on my gold reward. (Update: the maximum multiplier is apparently x10)

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While I spent money to fast-track my game, for those who would like to grind up, I suggest that you keep your gold for purchasing cards directly, fusing cards (combining 3 cards of the same kind to upgrade it to the next level) and save up your credits for Ultra Packs to be guaranteed 40,000 gold and potentially earn 320,000 gold if you score a Super Rare Card when you pick up a card you don’t need, better if you get the cards you need from the booster pack but that rarely happens, especially to me. I strongly suggest you don’t buy First Packs because your end-game will be to acquire Rare Cards above all, these gold-only booster packs only give you a chance for Elite Cards not even a guarantee. First Packs are pretty much traps to make you spend your gold and get frustrated at not getting anything you need which may in turn compel you to spend real money to get cards to sell for gold.

Even with all the generous bonuses you get, completing a deck without spending money will take a lot of time. We’re talking several weeks of dedicated playing and possibly getting your ass kicked every so often until you can build a decent deck to fight with other players online. You also have to deal with stamina issues when grinding. Borrowing a title familiar to people, if you know Mafia Wars, you know what stamina/energy/or something does for you. You need stamina to fight in battles whether it is against the computer or other people and you’ve got only five (5) bars of that. You recover one (1) stamina bar every twenty-five (25) minutes so that’s only five (5) battles every hundred hours or so. You could purchase a full stamina bar for 25 credits but you’re better off saving that for booster packs. While you need stamina to earn XP to level-up and get gold, you can still challenge your friends or fight with other people online in Free Battle mode to familiarize yourself with your deck, you will gain no XP, Gold, or bonus rewards if you participate in a battle without stamina.

 

Decks consisting of rare cards are impossible to beat if your deck is just composed of random cards slapped together because that’s all you have. You’ll be stuck fighting the computer opponent mostly on easy until you are able to fill out your deck with decent basic or elite cards including a power card, which increase your character’s HP and give you special buffs or perks during the start of a match or for the duration of the entire match. You need at least a basic power card to thrive in any game mode. You should aim to stock your deck with Elite Cards and Rare Cards with the proper abilities depending on what type of game play style you want.

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For example, I prefer suppressing my opponent’s ability to strike and to accumulate cards so I’m using Lili whose abilities consist of damage modifiers and free parries which cancels the attack value of an opponent’s card  when their cards in play (or their hand) consists of 3 cards or more to make dual exchanges (when both players use the strike command) extremely unfavorable to force them to limit the cards on hand, or to be afraid and lose their hands in fear of getting damaged. One nice rule in this game is when both players use the block command three times in a row, it forces everyone to discard their hand so turtles get penalized hard but this rules can also be used as a strategy to get out of a stalemates where you can’t attack because it will leave you open to a finishing blow if your opponent blocks your strike.

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Each character has a unique playing style described by the game when you are selecting your first character and deck and just to give another example of varying play styles, Paul Phoenix’s attack value on cards are extremely high, some of them gain exorbitant amounts of bonus damage when activated under certain conditions. He can beat you in one strike if you’re unlucky or your opponent manages to setup his attack perfectly but the draw back with this deck is the fact that most of his powerful cards either deal damage in some way so if you are able to suppress his attacks by allowing no damage to go through, a Paul user can beat himself without you having to strike him at all from taking too much damage from his own cards.

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There is little need to mention the physical cards unless you are invested in the game like I am. While seemingly having a higher rate of acquiring Super Rare Cards, physical booster packs also guarantee you a Rare Card in ever pack but also includes a collectible artwork card which does nothing for you in the game. I got four (4) artwork cards out of the five (5) packs I bought so out of the twenty cards (each booster pack contains five cards) I got, four of them are  completely useless where it matters, the card game. It’s worth noting that I have opened more than ten Ultra Packs from the in-game store from spending real cash and using the credits I earned in-game and did not get a single Super Rare (SR) Card. My assumption is that there is probably a guarantee of a few SR Cards in every box. On top of that, you can always trade cards you don’t need for cards that you actually need with other players and the fact that you can acquire cards for your in-app deck by scanning QR Codes means you can trade cards without having to exchange them physically if the person you’re dealing with isn’t a douchebag who will scan your card and block you from whatever form of communication you use to broker the deal. 

Good Points:

  • Deep game play mechanics with a fast pace makes matches quick and satisfying, that’s pretty good for a card game.
  • The game allows you to earn credits just by playing the game regularly so you don’t have to bust open your wallet every time you need new cards or a booster pack.
  • Regular card updates keep characters interesting and also balances out overpowered decks.
  • The graphics are good for a mobile game and while the maps and songs are limited, they stay true to the Tekken style.

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Bad Points:

  • AR Cards only have one pose regardless of card rarity. They quickly lose their novelty, as in right after you realize you cannot pose your AR character.
  • Artwork cards shouldn’t be part of the five (5) card booster pack. Come on, people buying these booster packs want to play a game more than they want to collect nice looking cards that do absolutely nothing.
  • Online play can sometimes be disrupted for unknown reasons. You can win or lose matches by default depending on whose internet gives out first.
  • The matchmaking system may need some tweaks to be able to accommodate and encourage new players to continue playing by adding match ladders based on deck quality (they are ranked from D to A++). The current system can pit my B rank deck against puny D rank decks. While that’s fun and all with an instant win, I don’t see new players enjoying that very much.
  • While Heihachi is a physical card edition exclusive, Namco Bandai does Tekken Card Tournament players no favors by not including a starter deck for Heihachi. You’ll have to buy A LOT of booster packs to get enough cards to complete a Heihachi deck. I only have three (3) Heihachi cards while one of them is a Power Card so that’s 13 more cards to go (hooray…)

Things That Swing Either Way:

  • Micro-transactions are necessary but I know people will not welcome the idea in general because there is the potential to spend more money on these cards than on a retail game but then again, the question you have to ask yourself is how long does one play a game exactly? PVP-centric games like Tekken Card Tournament can be played for far longer than any retail game but it all depends on how the game developers implemented new content to keep the game refreshing.
  • The game is always online so people with mobile phones will still need a data plan or a mobile connection to the internet to take the game anywhere and in places with bad reception (I’m looking at Globe), you won’t be able to play your game properly.

In conclusion:

Tekken Card Tournament requires a lot of patience and dedication to build a decent deck to enjoy the game properly. While the in-game rewards can help you gain cards without spending money, buying booster packs are not that big of a cash grab as you can be smart about your purchases to manage your in-game and real money funds to yield the most cards out of what you spend. The physical cards definitely opens more doors for players to acquire the cards they need without having to grind or rely on booster packs. The fast paced game play (matches finish under five minutes) allows you to enjoy a match anytime anywhere which is great if you’re out a lot or too busy to play games which require you to invest an hour or so in playing to actually enjoy a playing session. The great thing about integrating a card game with an online system is the fact that you can actually get something out of a match with another person to acquire more cards with. When was the last time you played a game of Magic: The Gathering with other people and got a new card out of it? Never, unless you place cards up as ante. I’ll continue playing Tekken Card Tournament for now and I’ll even spend money on it again eventually but in the meantime, I’ll be content with the cards I got and grind up for the the rest. If you’re playing the game now, you can look me up: mrslash.

Tekken Card Tournament physical cards are solely distributed by Datablitz. They are sold at P249 which isn’t far from the $5.55 SRP placed on it. You should call a branch near you to inquire and reserve booster packs if you’re interested in buying some.