Sword Girls is ChangYou’s latest contribution to the online F2P CCG market, an anime actionfest with dungeons, pvp, crafting, and much much more. The artwork and style provide more than enough for the gaming otaku to drool over, but there’s a solid game behind the anime assault as well.
For starters, there are four different base factions in Sword Girls, all essentially various flavors of standard anime lolitropes:
Crux: Lolis in shining armor.
Darklore: Gothic lolis
Academy: Maid lolis
Vita: Schoolgirl lolis
If this all seems a bit ridiculous for a serious CCG, you’re not far off base. It takes considerable effort to get beyond the rather exploitative premise and portrayal and take a look at Sword Girls for the game that it is. The imagery in Sword Girls pushes the limits of acceptability for a mainstream game at times. If players are looking for Katawa Shoujo, more power to them,but Sword Girls is all over mainstream channels – and it’s walking a fairly tight rope here.
As a game, there’s a lot going on in terms of strategy and deckbuilding. Sword Girls matches are speedy servings that take only a few minutes, but the initial anime attack may be a bit strong for players used to Magic: The Gathering Online or Carte.
Get ready for all kinds of things to do outside of actual gameplay – Players can craft cards from materials collected through dungeon runs and PVP, train cards to enhance their abilities, turn Character cards into new and exciting forms through a gift system, trade in cards and materials for other materials. There’s an entire menu of offerings that have nothing to do with laying a card or battling, and these options offer a serious suite of content for collectors and serious players.
And that brings us to one of the more interesting points of the Sword Girls system, which is that of Deck Points(DP). Certain cards in Sword Girls are definitely stronger than others, and cards are assigned a DP value – So you’re only actually going to be paired against other players that have decks at or around your deck value.
This means that players eager to get some competition in with their starter deck are going to be matched with appropriate challengers and not someone with a stack of triple rares. Tournaments and ladders have assigned values for deck DP to keep the playing field level and clean.
The game is true F2P thanks to Deck Points, and almost all cards can be gained through the crafting system, although it’s going to take a player considerable time and work to get some of the top tier cards. Crafting materials are plentiful and can be obtained through any kind of gameplay – matches take only a few minutes. Players can certainly dump a truckload of cash on boosters and other goodies, but they’ll be forced to play others with the same card quality.
The gameplay itself does not use a traditional “mana” system but instead locks both players into 10 “levels” of field presence at any given time on a grid system. Placement of Followers is often critical to getting the most out of their abilities, so a deck featuring a variety of cards from levels 1-5 is ideal for making sure you’ll get maximum value out of each turn.
It’s not a good idea to just play with Followers that will stick on the board and fight, because this may leave you going into turns with a full 10/10 space already taken – Meaning you won’t be able to play any new cards that turn. Because of this resource system, gameplay is fairly dynamic and encourages a good mix of different level Followers and Spells designed to take advantage of your Character’s abilities.
Dungeon runs are grindy endeavors, but the speed of matches does wonders to dull the blow. End bosses provide a glut of loot if you can defeat them, including special cards if players can best them 10 times (or 1 time, if the player is the first to defeat the boss).
The whole package works right in a web browser or through Facebook, so there’s nothing to download. If you can get beyond the lolis, there’s a real CCG with a refreshing resource system under the hood (or in this case, up the skirt) of Sword Girls.
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