Kard Combat, Shadow Era and Orions 2 - A bunch of collectable card games flooding the App Store

If you are one of those players that used to carry a deck of Magic: The Gathering everywhere as a kid or still does, I have good news for you. Unfortunately Wizards of the Coast is not porting their online version to iOS, but its creator Richard Garfield wants to bring the experience to our Apple devices. The best of it? He is not alone in his aim to bring the ultimate collectible card game to the App Store.

The collectable card genre has struggled in the past with video game conversions. For many players, a big motivation behind these games is collecting the actual cards, trade them and spend time organising and admiring the artwork. This aspect is completely lost with their digital counterparts, but at least the new generation of CCG for iOS include certain level of customisation and the option to purchase cards within the app. Here's a selection of the most recent launches and notable mentions. 

Kard Combat

This is the surprisingly cliched name of the card game developed by Hothead Games with the help of co-designer Richard Garfield. Available as a free download with in-app-purchase unlockables, you play as a mage from one of the four "races" available—Holy, Death, Machine or Dominator— and choose  a deck from over 100 cards, which the developer promises to keep updated. My first impression is that the game is real easy to pick up since the resource system is very simple and every card is placed on its own mana column. 

Shadow Era

If you're digging the classic card art style and board game experience, Shadow Era brings a free-to-play experience with the added bonus that it can be played on web browsers too—key to avoid endless waits in multiplayer lobbies. The game mechanics will be very familiar for those who player Magic: The Gathering, although the tutorial when you launch the app for the first time has enough depth for newcomers.

Starting with a simple deck, in-app-purchases get you advanced cards for your collection, but you can also earn resources within the game to buy them with its own currency. I found the battle animations a bit over the top and for some reason, players keep dropping multiplayer games in the middle of a battle.

Orions 2

I loved playing the first edition on my iPhone creating my own deck trying to have the perfect combination of cards and conquering territories. The sequel contains the same good aspects of the first edition plus the online multiplayer powered by Chillingo's Crystal / Game Center network.

Designed as a very simple CCG for mobile platforms, it strangely adds some building and micromanagement areas that I'm not sure contribute to the core gameplay. Probably the biggest drawback is the lack of support from what seems to be a one-man-team, something evident in the first version and that has got many fans complaining about since updates were promised when Orions 2 came out.

Battle Realms

The original real-time strategy title for the PC is getting an iOS makeover to as a card game to be released in mobile platforms… as a card collectible game. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering the bewildering universe of the Liquid Entertainment IP to go mobile in the next year.

The studio already has experience with multi-platform games—including Facebook— so this could be a killer feature assuming the game is fun. The iOS version is expected to feature upgradeable units and the elements seen in the PC game. Note this is still in development and not many deatails have been released yet. The art sketches look very promising at least.