The Big Bang Theory: Mystic Warlords of Ka’a is a delightfully casual take on CCGs

On the hit CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory, the characters all like to sit around and play a card game called Mystic Warlords of Ka’a …or so I’ve heard. You see, I haven’t seen more than 23 minutes of The Big Bang Theory. I tried it once on the recommendation of people whose opinions I had previously respected, and found it to be a cringe-inducing mockery of everything I hold dear. Also, canned laughter in 2011 is just gross. Despite this, I’m a sucker for a good card game, so I was intrigued by the premise of bringing Mystic Warlords of Ka’a to the real world – albeit via Facebook.

A card battling title similar in theme to games like Magic: The Gathering, Ka’a is a game that’s largely about runes and numbers. Each card belongs to one of five rune groups. These groups are represented by a color, but more importantly, the runic etchings on each resemble a roman numeral. This is a key component in Ka’a, as one type of rune always trumps another. Instead of remembering that blue trumps yellow, for example, you just have to remember that five is going to trump four. The trumping system simply goes around in a circle, with the number that’s one higher beating the one that’s one lower. This happens until the circle starts again with one beating five.

 Mystic Warlords of Ka'a

Players will square off in card duels, playing one card against the other in an attempt to outrune the other player. If you can’t beat their card with a rune, however, you can always trump them by playing a card with a higher rank. Rank is determined by the number on a card above the rune. So if your card has a seven and there’s only has a six, you’ll beat the card in play. Your opponent then has a chance to beat your card, and you’ll go back and forth until one of you can’t play another card. At this time the round comes to a close, and damage is dealt to the losing party. The damage done is equal to the number of cards left in your hand, so playing everything you can in a round definitely works to your advantage.

Once a duel is complete, the game moves into the Battle Line phase. This pits all of the cards equal to or less than the summon number (a counter on the side that ticks up by one each round) against each other in simultaneous combat. Lined up across from one another, the cards in question all attack at the same time and deal damage. If you don’t have a card in a slot to absorb the damage, it will come right off your own health, bringing you even closer to an overall loss.

Other elements, like artifact cards being equipped in the Battle Line and spell cards that lie in wait for an enemy, help to make the experience feel like more than just a numbers games. At the same time though, so much of this is implemented in a fool proof automatic kind of way that fans of the show with no CCG experience should find themselves enjoying the game without facing any kind of learning curve typical to the genre.

Still — there are elements here for the more seasoned CCG gamer too. You can customize your deck, buy new cards, etc… But even with some visible tropes of the industry, just remember – this is definitely a casual friendly twist on CCGs.

 Mystic Warlords of Ka'a

In terms of presentation, the card art here goes far beyond what you might expect from a promotional TV show tie-in. The cards simply look great. So much so that we can’t help but feel cheated that there are only two different factions of cards to pick from right now. With art this good, we want to see even more! Still, since the game is technically considered in preview beta, it’s hard to hold the lack of factions against them. It seems inevitable that we’ll see that number grow fairly quickly.

The dialogue in the tutorial follows the same inane banter as the television show, which depending on how much I respect you, you already love or hate. Maybe it’s just because I’m one of the people this show is poking fun at, but I just don’t see the humor in things like “Besides, the way this game is going, I’m going to crush our colleague here like Bane crushed Batman’s spin in Issue 497 during the Knightfall Saga.” As a real nerd who understands this reference inside and out, I promise you, nobody really talks like that.

I hate The Big Bang Theory. I really, really do. Despite this though, I know a good game when I see one – and Mystic Warlords of Ka’a definitely falls into that category. It may not be as bright a star as other digital CCG’s like Shadow Era and Kard Combat, but as a somewhat more casual affair, it definitely holds its own. Fans of the series with a love for Magic will definitely dig what’s on offer here, but more importantly, even Big Bang haters like myself can’t help but be wooed by its charms. If you’re a CCG fan on Facebook, this one is definitely worth a glance.