444Developer: Denis Buslaev
Price: Free ($2.99/£2.49 remove ads)
Size: 307 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
It’s a much simpler game than those genre classics, which means that while it’s not as deep, it’s also more immediate and accessible. You can fire off a quick round of Cards of Terra without having to worry about some wider metagame.
Like all good Solitaire games, it’s ostensibly about clearing a stacked pile of cards. In this instance, that means pulling a Yojimbo and setting various color-coded factions against one another.
Drag a spear-carrying red orc with a value of 1 onto a blue swordsman with a value of 2, and you’ll get rid of the former whilst reducing the latter’s health to 1.
The real tactical interest comes from the special abilities and unique behavior patterns of some of these cards. Horses stomp through multiple up-turned cards, Ent-like trees grow stronger with every round, and archers are worth keeping around for their habit of attacking random opponents each turn.
Such free hits are invaluable because you have a limited pool of move points to draw from, though you can gain more by ‘freeing’ (i.e. turning over) golden prisoner cards. Those hit points can also be used to directly attack unit cards in a pinch.
As with Solitaire itself, your success or failure in a round can come down to the precise order of the cards that are dealt around you. What is a feature of the source card game, however, can come across as a frustrating flaw in a structured, tactical reworking such as this.
Often all that’s needed after a particularly gruelling failure is another run, during which the fall of the cards might be that little bit kinder for you. Not a major issue, but it does make you question the game’s true tactical depth at times.
Ultimately, Cards of Terra’s relative lack of deeper strategic mechanics is what pulls it up short of the true genre greats. Yes, it’s easy to get into, but you’re also likely to put it down that much faster.
While your interest lasts, however, it’s a card-flipping joy to play.