Mobile Trading Card Games

Recently I’ve gotten into playing some of the trading card games on my Android phone and tablet. I figured I’d offer some of my observations here about the various games I’m playing (or that I tried and decided not to continue). I guess you could consider these “reviews”. Hopefully something I have to say helps someone else who is looking for this sort of thing.

Technical Information

I’m only playing the games on my Android devices. I have a Samsung Galaxy 3 phone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.2 device that I play on. So anything I say about the performance of the game comes from that standpoint. It also means that I don’t play any games which are exclusive to the iOS platform.

Also, I tend to play games which are published through Mobage. I like the fact that I can spend $10 on some Mobage coins (their version of in-game currency) and be able to use that on any of the 5 or 6 games I’m playing at the time.

That doesn’t mean that I have never tried any other games, but since Mobage is a pretty major player here, you’ll find most of my reviews relate to their games.


I’m writing these reviews for a couple of reasons. First when I first got into this hobby, it was hard to find information about the games. Granted the Google Play marketplace has reviews on it, but those are usually fairly limited. Hopefully by talking about some of these style of games that I’m playing it will help others as you make decisions about what you may want to try out.

Second, I have in mind (and have started on the system design) my own TCG. So by reviewing the various games critically, it has helped me think about what features I like and dislike in the games. So I guess by reading this, you’ll get a feel for what I may put into a game of my own.

About the Genre

The grandaddy to these sorts of games are the physical trading card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon. In translation to the mobile device, they’ve had to make some adjustments, however. For instance, most of the games don’t really have the back and forth “battling” like you may be used to in the physical games.

However, several features are there. Like the idea of a “rare” card. In a physical game you buy packs of cards hoping to find some rare card in one of them. In the mobile versions there are usually several ways to get cards (see the Free to Play? section below) and the scarcity of certain cards and the thrill of finding a rare one exist there too.

Free to Play?

Most of these games are listed as “Free” in the Google Play marketplace. Now, as you might suspect, some of these games have large studios of artists and developers behind them. So they obviously have to pay those people somehow, right? The standard way is to offer premium items through their in-game shop. For instance you might be able to buy a potion which refreshes your Action Points (allowing you to keep playing longer).

The most common way to get money from you is to offer cards. These typically take the form of some random pick from the pool of available cards. The higher the cost of the card pick, the more likely that you’ll get a rare card in the draw.

One of the parts of my reviews will be to discuss how viable it is to think that you can play the game successfully for free. Most of the games you can play for free. However your ability to be successful in battle, the rate of your progression through the game, however will be more or less limited by how much money you’re willing to spend.

I’ve often said that “Free to Play” is a misnomer. Game companies are in the business to make money. If all they just give away 1000s of hours of work, they won’t be in business very long. I’ve often found that “free” game developers are usually very good at finding ways to entice you to spend money on the game. Mobile TCG’s aren’t the first time that I’ve disocvered that I spent more money on a “free” game than I ever have on subscription based MMOs (for example).

Review Strucutre

So, my plan is to use the following basic structure for each of my TCG reviews…

  • Overview – Explain the concept of the game, the setting, etc. I’ll also provide a Pro/Con list in this section for the attention deprived so you can see at a glance if you want to keep reading or not. 🙂 Note that if the game has a referral system, I’ll also list my referral code here. Most games encourage the players to recruit others. By using a referral code when you sign up for one of the games, it gives you a special card / item and it would also give your referrer something too. There is no difference to you in using my referral code or someone else’s.
  • Gameplay – I’ll review the flow of the game play for the game. How do missions / quests work? Are there other special features that bear discussion?
  • Combat – I’ll spend a bit of time talking how combat works in the game. One thing you’ll find for me is that in general I find the combat in most of these games to be less than engaging. In some cases, I find them to be plain boring.
  • Cards & Artwork – Part of the fun of any TCG is the artwork on the cards. I’ll talk about the style and my personal preferences on whether I like the style or not as well. I’ll also talk about the collection aspect of them as far as quantities of cards available, number you can hold at one time, etc.
  • Free to Play – I’ll talk about how viable it is to play the game without spending real life money. This will talk about some areas where it is obvious the game design is such that it encourages you to spend money. Note, all of the games do this. They are businesses after all! But some are more obvious than others.
  • Events – If I’ve played the game for some time, I’ll offer my views on the special events that they have run.
  • Social Aspects – Almost every game I’ve played has some sort of guild / order structure. They also have Allies or Friends that are seperate from there. I’ll talk about the features of this system and what I like / dislike about it.
  • Recommendation – I’ll wrap up by talking about my overall feeling about the game, who it might appeal to, and whether I would recommend it to a friend.

Moving On…

Ok, that’s enough about my plans for now. I’ll try to add some reviews over the next few days. I’ll create some category tags so it’s easier to find these on the blog. Also, if you have any suggestions on what I might want to try, I’d be willing to hear them. 🙂 My current list of games that I plan to review are:

  • Currently Playing
    • Deity Wars
    • Rage of Bahamut
    • Marvel World of Heroes
    • Hellfire
    • Transformers Legends
    • Fantasica
  • Tried But Not Playing
    • Dark Summoner
    • Legend Cards

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