Battlecards – the auto card battler

Its about time to introduce this little pet-project I am working on. This is n-th try to create a online game all alone. This time, the project is much simpler than my previous ideas and therefore much more developed already. I would be interested in your feedback, if someone would take the time to read (and admire the screens).

First things first: This is a classic, browser based game. This means there are limits to both graphics and gameplay. Also, this game is not to be confused with Hearthstone or any other online trading card game. Battlecards is a traditional browser game with automated combat and a oldschool feel to it. To spice things up, the project makes use of artworks and design components acquired commercially at low-budget (mostly from deviantart artists).

First and foremost, this is project is meant to be developed and maintained by a single person (my humble self). Of course I could imagine others to join and help, but the core of the game engine is written all by one person. If – after reading this article – you get the vision of a very simple game concept, always bear in mind its a one-man-show. I also don’t hesitate to stick the “Casual Game” label to this project as well. BTW, this game will be absolutely free, forever.


Its a simple, completely homebrewn little browser game engine using HTML5, PHP, mySQLi, CSS and JS. Im using a framework and a few plug-ins but nothing fancy. The design is completely responsive, but I have to work on it a bit more. As the game is played directly in your browser, there are no downloads or updates.

Battlecards is an asynchronous card game. Asynch means that only the active player has control over his/her actions. When fighting, the other player is controlled by the AI. Furthermore, combat in this game is automatic, as in most oldschool browser games – this reduces gameplay to acquring cards, creating decks, managing decks and attacking/defending with your decks. There is no real need for a story, each player is a Mage of sorts fighting to become the most powerful one. The meat of the game are the cards and the decks that players built from their collection.

A player can create several Attack-Decks and use them to attack other Players or computer controlled enemies. PvP is called duel, while PvE is referred to as Quests. The game uses a classic Energy system, so you can only fight x-times before energy is depleted. You then have to wait some time in order to regain energy. All in all the game is quite fast-paced, the downtime is very short.

Example: You login in the morning and with full energy you are able to do 5 Duels and 5 Quests in addition to some card buys and management. After that
you have to wait until lunch-time for your energy to recover, so no 2 weeks waiting for something to get finished (like in Clash of Clans or other click-and-wait games). This concept underlines the “Casual” aspect of Battlecards.

Decks are tiny, limited to 8 cards each. Each deck can be described as a Army or Stack. There is also no real card drawing, card hands or card playing – this game uses cards for visual representation, but plays completely different. If you fight against another player or a computer controlled opponent, the actual combat is calculated automatically with no intervention from the players.

This might sound boring, but the quintessence of Battlecards is different from most trading card games. Its all about creating the right deck and absolving lots (and I mean lots) of micro-battles finetuning the deck and trying different strategies against the various opponents and quests.

The attacker uses one of his/her Attack-Decks while the defender uses his/her Defend-Deck. The attacking player is able to view the cards in the Defense deck and can therefore modify the attack deck to optimize performance. The defeder on the other hand gains a little advantage during combat, but defense in general is much more difficult than attack.

Combat itself is computed automatically according to a huge and complex formula, but the cards have simple stats and skills each with only one “Power” value and up to three Skills. The cards also feature an element and a class and according to these, you gain an advantage or disadvantage over your opponents cards in a RPG like fashion. Example:

* Archers beat Infantry (the defender is advised to add some archers to the deck in order to repel infantry).

* Cavalry beats Archers (the attacker on the other hand should add a bit of Cavalry to beat the enemy Archers).

* Pikes beat Cavalry (the defender can protect himself against Cavalry by adding Pikes to the deck as well).

Note that there are several RPS “cycles” and it is hard to protect yourself against all of them. On the other hand, when attacking you cannot shine in all fields, you have to focus on a specific strategy or finetune your deck to specifically beat the opponent you are challenging. This is especially tricky with just 8 cards.

Finally, combat is summarized, showing all cards and explaining whats going on in a log. This makes it easier to understand why you have won/lost and why not. Players gain resources by winning attacks and defenses. These resources (currently Gold and Crystals) can be spend in order to gain new Cards and Booster packs.

One more word on deck bulding and strategy, the heart of the game:

Each player is required to build a Defense deck. The defense deck role is to be as tough and unbeatable as possible. This is easier said than done, because there will be at least one Attack-Strategy for each Defense-Strategy. You can defend against Archers or Cavalry or Pikes – but can you defend against all three of them?

The role of the attacker is a bit easier, as you just have to overcome the deck you wish to attack. At the beginning of the game you might just toss all of your powerful cards into the deck, but later on you will be able to build tailored strategies that can beat all the meta-decks out there.

In the end, it depends on the card pool a player acquires by playing the game. With a growing card pool you can set up a better defense and overcome the other players defense decks more easily. I imagine the game as a big, ranked, card-race.

I plan to release the game with just 50 different cards and one card type (creatures) while adding a new expansion every x-months. These expansions will add another 25-50 cards to the game and expand it by adding one new feature. Several features are already planned and some of them implemented like new card types (lands, heroes, spells and items). Later on there might be a card-crafting system and a guild system as well (with a new guild war system to
accompany the guilds).

Thanks for reading – I am well aware that this is a rather specialized/niche aproach to a game. I can also imagine that not many people will like this kind of game, to me it plays more like a puzzle/code-breaker game than a card game. But, its my pet project after all and so I stick with it!

If you have feedback or ideas, I would love to hear them!