Hello. My name is Cassandra and I have a problem. I'm a recovering trading card game-holic. I used to play them obsessively - just ask my wallet. But I've been getting better. I've been clean for a while but I have doubts that it is going to last. There's a new game in town and it's smart, sexy and exotic. Meet Cabals: The Card Game [Free], ladies and gentlemen, and kiss your productivity good-bye.

Developed by Finnish Kyy Games, Cabals has all the necessary hallmarks of the genre: exceptional artwork, warring factions, creatures to summon, resources to manage, booster packs - you name it, they've got it.

The world of Cabals: The Card Game is a familiar one. It's our own, after all. The key players here are the Cabals, secret societies comprised of witches and steam punk magicians, of Russians and alchemists and faerie pigs. As is often the case with anything eldritch in nature, these Cabals don't get along too well. This, obviously enough, is where you come in. You're one of the vanguards and you will fight for the glory of your faction. Or something like that.

One thing I really liked about Kyy Games' new title is the exceedingly robust cross-platform online gameplay that it provides. I know, I know. This isn't anything new, per se. We've had cross-platform games for ages. But bear with me. Most games have limitations. With Cabals, things are a little different. Not only will you be able to take on players on the iOS platform, you'll also be able to challenge everyone from Mac Users to Android-wielding associates. In short, if it runs Unity, it will run Cabals and it will run it beautifully. (Facebook and Windows 7 versions are apparently in the works too.)

So, we've got kick-ass online services and a delightful urban-fantasy setting checked. What else has Kyy Games brought to the table? A lot, I would say. Cabals: The Card Game is a somewhat nontraditional take on the idea. More a TCG/board game hybrid than anything else, Cabals will not have you safely seated on your side of the metaphorical table as you work on whittling your opponent's health down to zero. No, sir. Things are much different here.

In Cabals, you're going to have to either storm the Stronghold (it's usually the tile furthest away from your own and marked with a little castle-like symbol) or acquire 60 Domination points (this usually entails conquering approximately sixty tiles) in order to win. Your choice. Just be forewarned - it's not as easy as it sounds. Units can only be brought into play through your Stronghold or a 'deployment location' that you control. Does that mean you should rush towards those hot spots? Not really. It depends on your playstyle. Can you afford risking the possibility of being flanked? Can you control your opponent's wanton expansion in the mean time? What about your Stronghold? Do you worry about it or do you charge for the other guy's Stronghold first?

But before you get into all of that, you had better damn well make sure you have enough resources at your disposal first. Do you finance spells or units? Do you go for quality or quantity? And if that wasn't enough to worry about, you're also going to have to take positioning into account as it is far too easy to maneuver yourself into a corner should you be careless.

As for the rest of it, it's all pretty straightforward. Movement is accomplished by dragging and dropping a unit onto an adjacent square. Combat is performed when two units are within range (and by dragging and dropping one onto another). Damage is determined by the power that a unit has and occasionally by certain special attributes. Spells work pretty much the same way as units - their individual effects can be found on the cards themselves.

Sometimes, a laborious dance worthy of the grandmasters of chess and sometimes, a mad rush for control, Cabals is easy to grasp and surprisingly deep for something that can, at times, feel like a distilled version of the genre. It currently operates on a freemium model so you're going to have to spend some real world cash to purchase more cards. Fortunately, you won't get assaulted by constant demands to spend money so that's always a plus. As an added bonus, the amount of influence points (which is their name for in-game currency) that you receive when you register yourself is actually fairly hefty so chances are, if you're going to make this a casual experience, you'll probably never find yourself reaching for your wallet.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://twitter.com/Cabalsgame Cabals The Card Game

    Thanks for the review Cassandra! We're delighted to hear that you've enjoyed the game!

    We are also dedicated to supporting and developing Cabals: The Card Game in the long run. The first update is already in the approval process and first expansion on its way - check out our future plans for the game at: http://www.cabalsgame.com/news.php?news=24

    Kyy Games
    Ceo, Founder

  • Czyre Wertman

    Bored and disalusioned. Big MTG fan since Beta, I love everything from HIVE to Thunderstone. I deleted this game. I just saw on a post that BoardGameGeek has a thread for ios games, and Summoners War is coming out. I have all the expansions but dont get to play much, I look forward to that coming in January, bc Cabals seems just a rip off of SW in my opinion. Other than Kard Kombat, nothin beats Orions 2 on the ios.

    • http://twitter.com/aagold3 Aaron G

      I think I understood maybe one whole sentence you wrote. I'm not trying to be a jerk, I guess I just don't know this genre at all.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

      Shadow Era is pretty good too.

  • Jaakko Maaniemi

    I haven't really played collectible card games much, just tried a few a couple of times. But I really like Cabals and find myself playing it every day.

    I suppose it has a lot to do with the ease and simplicity of the actual playing once you get into it after a session or two.

    I also find the reviewer's observation about the monetization scheme accurate. I've got way more in game currency than I think I need by just playing. I suppose the developers' angle is to get revenue from the hardcore (which, as a casual player, is fine by me!)

  • Petri Lehmuskoski

    New to card games, but Cabals got me hooked. Tried it one evening, and learned the game mechanics fast.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rekzkarz Ari Krawitz

    I tried it, but was annoyed by the need to keep looking up my cards & also the board was confusing.  I could see it being more fun and somewhat 'chess-like' if you played a lot.  I quite like Orions2 & tried some other CCG's but still waiting on a 'super' CCG for iOS.

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  • Touko Kästämä

    Cabals got me hooked from the get-go!

    Haven't really played any of the above-mentioned online CCG:s, so maybe I'll need to give them a chance too, but: Im a long time board game, miniature game and CCG enthusiast as well as a computer geek and this game really hit the nerve right away, and Im usually rather critical about games.

    As the game is rather new, it is still missing some features and the card pool could be bigger. The interface is really good though and even now the game is very deep (with little to no luck involved, only skill) yet the basics are quick to learn. Tutorial could probably be a bit better, so a little bit of patience could be in order.

    I highly recommend! For me its ready enough to be addictive, but you mileage might wary. A definite up-and-comer in any case, so keep it on your radar if you are into CCG:s at all! 😉

  • Anonymous

    I found Cabals on New Years day and I haven't picked up any other games since (including the few xbox 360 games I got for Christmas)... For a game that is just starting out - Cabals has butter-smooth game play and very little to no bugs from what I've seen (I play on Android OS and Windows). The game has a strong taste of MTG which is a great thing if you love the mother of all TCG. The beautiful  artwork and interface are just bonuses - and you're getting it all for free.  You can play the game indefinitely without spending any cash - and even level up and unlock any card in the game without ever spending $$$. There is an in-game card shop where you can buy decks, boosters, single cards, or heros - if you're so inclined (which you probably will be after a few days).  Definitely try it out, but be ready to forget any other TCG/CCG you've played recently, before you do!  My name in game is Shawe incase you ever see me in head-to-head or on the forums.  Thanks Kyy Games!

  • http://twitter.com/FrancisGFlor Francis Flor

    I played Cabals, Shadow Era, Orions 2 and Kard Kombat. I enjoyed playing all of them especially Cabals. Among all my iOS games, Cabals is the game i spent the most time and money. Even more time then PvZ.

Cabals: Magic & Battle Cards Reviewed by Cassandra Khaw on . Rating: 4