Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Card Hunter

Fun, perfectly challenging online fantasy game fosters tactical minds
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
Pros
Building and outfitting a successful group of characters rewards careful planning and strategic thinking.
Cons
Sometimes feels too dependent on random luck, though there are ways to mitigate it.
Bottom Line
Great introduction to two classic game genres test students' tactical and strategic thinking, but don't expect traditional classroom content.
Mark Chen
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

The combination of two classic game genres works well, but extended play can turn into a grind for better equipment.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Players can exercise math skills as they figure out which cards to play in which order. Players also pick the most efficient order in which to play characters' actions, helping them learn logic and systems thinking.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

The first few missions provide players with a well-scripted introduction to the game, and the online forums are supportive and active.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Most games take about half an hour, so teachers can incorporate Card Hunter into a classroom setting. Still, deep learning builds over time as players learn the game's intricacies. While there’s not much traditional learning content, students do build useful, transferrable skills and practice valuable ways of thinking. In this sense, Card Hunter might work best as a supplemental bonus activity or in after-school settings. Similar to Chess -- but potentially more appealing and accessible -- Card Hunter is a good game to use for teaching logical reasoning, since students learn to recognize and plan certain patterns of moves. It's easy, however, for students not to recognize what they're learning. To help, have students document and justify their strategies -- perhaps sharing them with fellow students. And since some light math like probability is key, help students understand how they could use -- or might already be using -- mathematical probability to increase their chances of success.

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What's It Like?

Card Hunter wraps two classic styles of play -- turn-based tactical combat and collectible card games -- in the retro fun of a table-top role-playing game. Think tongue-in-cheek '80s and '90s Dungeons & Dragons cliché (and stereotypes) -- dark basements and pimple-faced teens -- mixed with more modern and streamlined tactical gaming. Players send out their characters and do battle, drawing cards from each character's customizable deck to perform actions.

The combination of board-game tactics controlled by randomized but customizable decks is compelling, and the stylized, clean art and humorous -- though sparse -- writing draws players in well. As characters win battles, they receive cards for random equipment of varying power. Card decks can be customized by switching out different weapons or armor in the various characters' equipment slots. When fighting a big ogre, for example, players would want to use weapons and attacks with greater reach and then have their characters dance around the lumbering monster, hitting it from afar. Card Hunter has both a single-player campaign vs. a computer enemy “game master” named Gary and multiplayer matches against other human players. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

Don't look to Card Hunter for traditional learning content aligned to core subjects; rather, it's a deeply engaging game that gets students to think in strategic and tactical ways that have broader cross-curricular application. There's just enough ramping challenge to keep students constantly developing their skills. As players learn the strengths and weaknesses of different deck customizations, they need to adjust strategies according to the types of encounters and monsters they meet. Fights get harder, but characters also get stronger. Players new to the tactics genre will learn how to plan sequential moves and synthesize combinations of cards for maximum effect.

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