Card Crawl is a Dungeon Crawler build around a modified deck of standard cards. The basic idea of the game is to clear the Dungeon (a fixed deck of 54 cards) without dying and as much gold as possible. The gameplay evolves around managing your limited inventory and health, by using equipment and special cards. Monsters and equipment cards are fixed, but each play trough you can use five special ability cards that can be chosen by the player (mini deck building). Different ability cards can be unlocked by spending the collected gold.
Tinytouchtales is a Berlin based Indie-Team founded in 2012 by Arnold and Wiebke Rauers. Together they create games and interactive stories for touch screens. For Card Crawl Arnold invited Mexer to help out with his magical art skills. Max Fiedler, aka Mexer, born in 1977, lives and works as a freelance illustrator, animator and game-designer in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Arnold, from Tinytouchtales, has chatted with us about the ideas and concepts of the game.
Can you tell us some details about the original ideas and concepts behind the game? What made you choose to build a playing card game?
As with all of my ideas, I had the original vision of a dungeon crawler based on a card deck with me for quite some time. When I was searching for similar concepts I found out that one of my favorite designers Zac Gage had already made exactly that game called Scoundrel.
Together with is partner Kurt Bieg they designed Scoundrel back in 2011, but due to some undisclosed problems they never released the actual game on any platform besides a rules PDF.
This was my starting point, when I sat down to start prototyping. At that time I was big into Hearthstone my first collectable card game. Since I never played Magic the Gathering or anything similar, my vision of the game was to create a single player version of Hearthstone that could be easily played within two or three minutes.
I took some of the basic principles of Scoundrel and added several mechanics. Things like the inventory management, used cards blocking other cards or the ability card mini deck building idea. But the biggest break through design wise was the selling mechanic, which pushed the whole game to the next level. Besides collection coin cards which will increase your score, you can decide to sell inventory cards which will raise your score further, but this automatically makes the game way more difficult since you will miss inventory cards to survive the later threats.
I think what Card Crawl does very well is that it combines several smaller loops or mechanics in an interesting way and this is why it’s a pretty interesting game even though it’s design space is pretty small.
I picked cards because they work really well on touchscreen devices, they are simple and they are very well known to players. Everybody instantly knows what you can do with a card which lowers the barrier of entrance quite a bit. Also I do believe that there’s a strong community around traditional games (not only card games) which is interested in board game like experiences on their devices.
Additionally I think that playing cards have a wonderful aesthetic and I enjoy playing card games in general.
Have you ever thought of producing a physical pack, either self-funded or through something like Kickstarter?
I actually printed a run of several cards. But from an design stand point I would say it’s impossible to bring Card Crawl into the analogue world with it’s current design. The whole game is based around the changing values of the cards and it would be super hard to physically alter cards the way they are changing in the game all the time. From a marketing standpoint I would love to print the game just for aesthetic reasons and as a collectors item. The illustrations by my partner Max Fiedler are outstanding and would look great in a printed deck. As for the funding part I would like to try Kickstarter but I have no experiences nor a plan on doing right now, but if someone with the right deal would come to ask, I surely would consider a partnership.
Arnold has kindly given the World of Playing Cards ten promocodes to download the game for free, these codes are first-come, first-served: