Missile Cards is somewhat a deck building game, somewhat a missile commander-like, but overall is more of a game of chance and strategy where you place cards in order to prevent hazards from hitting your base. Armed with a deck full of weapons, powers and hazards, you must clear out the deck in a few maps in order to win. Objetives are to be completed as well if you want to progress to the next map, and you can upgrade your base and buy some cards with XP and collected resources during matches. I really, really enjoyed this game.
The whole thing starts quite simple - and the core rules are pretty simple as well - you have a conveyor belt of cards, up to three at a time, and they move to the right each turn. You can play them using AP, which recover at a rate of 2 per turn, and the first card of the game is free. When ‘good’ cards hit the end of the conveyor, they’re shuffled back into the deck, while hazards enter play. Hazards include comets, nukes, hacks, laser beams, drills, solar flares and bombs. The goal is to survive - you have four sub-bases that can take one hit and a main base with upgradeable HP - so you need to place turrets in four slots, wait for them to charge up and shoot down these hazards before they hit.
Each of the five maps has its own deck with specific hazard and defensive cards. The first level, for instance, is all about comets, missiles and laser towers. Hazards like comets have a HP rating (which is also how much damage they deal to your main base if they hit) that you need to whittle away in order to destroy them. Nukes are a bit more complicated, if they hit the bottom of the screen while armed, it’s an automatic game over, so you need to disarm them and then use another attack to destroy them. Since the game is a bit luck-based, sometimes you’ll just have a bad run. I restarted a few times, especially at the beginning, where I had no defensive cards and a bunch of hazards were dropping almost immediately. Otherwise if you don’t want to play anything, you can ‘skip’ turns (and lose 1 AP in the process) or just trash your cards (which powers-up special moves you can unlock).
The upgrade system is fine, you get XP for finishing levels and can spend it on health upgrades and three special powers. I kinda wish that the upgrades were all usable at the same time. As it is, you only can use the laser OR the shields OR the regen ability, so getting the three of them is kinda useless. You can also buy and equip up to three more cards and I’m so-so on them, they seem really useful in specific situations and you’ll never know when you’ll get them, so I didn’t really think too much about them. You acquire resources by destroying hazards and then using another card to draw the resources in. I’m not a big fan of that system, because the resources disappear after a while and setting up a vacuum card can take time or luck.
I really enjoyed my time with Missile Cards! Beat the whole thing and would’ve kept going if there was more of it. Great game, can’t recommend it enough!