The Dresden Files is one of my favorite book series and, even after 15 novels, I still find myself eagerly awaiting the newest adventure of Harry Dresden. Last year, Evil Hat Games brought us a card game based on this universe. You can read my full review of the tabletop game here, but the short answer is I loved the game, even with its punishing hard difficulty.
Recently, the developers at Hidden Achievement created a digital version of The Dresden Files Card Game. They helpfully gave BGQ a download code and we are ready to report how well this game fared on our iDevices.
The Dresden Files Card Game is a somewhat of an abstract game. Each player controls a unique character from the Dresden Files universe (or one player controls 3 in a solo game). Each character has their own deck that consists of 4 types of cards. Each of those types of cards will correspond to a card on the game board, that’s drawn from the book deck. Every book in the series has its own deck, but all have the same goal. Players must defeat enough foes, and solve enough cases so that at the end of the game there are more cases solved than undefeated foes. Easy enough right? Not exactly, as the game can be difficult to win (but not impossible).
The Dresden Files Card Game translates really well to the digital realm. As the game is just cards and a handful of dice, I had long thought this would make a great tablet game. The app will let you choose which book you want to face, and with what characters (or you can go random). As each character has their own unique power and focus on their deck, it’s helpful to tailor your team to the book you are facing.
Once in the game proper, the app gives you time to browse your hand of cards before starting. Selecting a card to play is as easy as a simple tap. The app automatically deducts any fate point cost and will highlight any cards you can target. If the card requires a fate roll before being played, the app will make note of it and you’ll have to tap the roll box first. Should you want to see a card in detail, a press and hold will zoom in.
Overall the app works very smooth and I only experienced one minor glitch. While the interface isn’t as polished as we’ve been treated to by some other developers, it also doesn’t feel spartan or amateurish. This feels more like a direct port of the tabletop game vs some other the more thematic interfaces we’ve started to become accustomed to.
My biggest problem I have with the app is the lack of an undo button. As I play on my iPhone quite a bit, more than once my sausage fingers have clicked the wrong thing. Or I’ve immediately changed my mind about a card right after selecting it. As this is a coop game, I don’t see any reason for there not to be an undo button (which would be disabled after dice rolls, obviously).
Other than the aforementioned undo button, I think Hidden Achievement did an excellent job of bringing the Dresden Files Card Game to our devices. The app works great, you can get in a game quickly, and there is loads of replay value. The app comes with the same amount of cases and heroes as in the core game, and offers expansions at a $3.99 DLC (free if you were a Kickstarter backer). One thing I would have liked to see here is a bundle price for those that want to go all in, as $15 on top of the $7 base game might feel a bit steep to some.
The Dresden Files Card Game can actually become a little addictive, part of which I think is due to its difficult win rate. I find myself constantly wanting to try again after I lose a case as I don’t want the game to have “beat me”. One nice thing the app does is record your wins and losses for each case through the Game Center. So you can see how many tries it took you to win each case.
For those who haven’t played before, the game also offers both an integrated tutorial and a full rulebook. Along with that is a card browser to allow you to see what cards are in each character’s deck. However I do wish this was accessible from the game setup screen as many times I want to find out more about a character when I’m choosing my team, and it’s a pain to have to exit back out to the main menu and go into the guides section.
For gameplay modes, there are two ways to play. You can either play solo and control three characters, or play with others via few methods. You can do pass and play, local network, or online with friends. There is no way to play with random players online. To be honest, I don’t think there is much point in playing online. As this is a game where you REALLY have to work together with other players if you hope to win, I just don’t see you having much success short of playing over a voice chat. If you are going to download this app, I would recommend only doing it as a solo player (or pass and play).
Even 30+ games in, I’m still enjoying The Dresden Files Card Game. Sure, the game can be really hard to win, especially if you get a bad draw up front. But there is a lot of replay value here and, if you are like me, you’ll be willing to play games over and over again until you get that elusive win (which I promise, will come).
If you are a fan of the Dresden Files and were curious about the card game, the app sells for $6.99, which is much less expensive than its tabletop cousin. For fans of the game, there isn’t any reason not to grab this iOS version. You can get in a game in a fraction of the time and the app works excellent. Hopefully, they will give us an undo button in the near future though.
Final Score: 4 Stars – An excellent translation of a unique tabletop card game to the digital realm.
• No undo button
• No bundle for expansions
• Can’t browse characters from other screens