My brother Steve has long enjoyed playing and analyzing games, like I do. So he was excited to start an internship with the company that makes the Chaotic trading card game, over in San Diego.

He has basically a great job, helping design and test new cards. He reminded me about the game recently, and I checked it out more thoroughly.

It has some neat mechanics. I’ll describe them in Magic terms, because that’s how I forever relate to card games, and how my friends would understand. Sorry, Steve.

Basically, you put all your creatures for the game out on the table at the start, each with a hidden aura. You have two shuffled pile of instants, one for creature attacks, one for anytime. The attack pile is limited to 20 points of what I assume are ‘quality’ points — each card consumes some amount of that 20 points, and presumably they balance better cards by making you spend more of the points, though I haven’t yet seen examples of that.

When you put your creatures out, you put them on an inverted triangle layout. So does your opponent, with the two top sides of the triangles touching:

▯ ▯
▯ ▯ ▯
▮ ▮ ▮
▮ ▮

And to attack, you have to move your creature up to one square away, onto an enemy creature. So there’s a bit of positional strategy.

When you first attack a creature, both hidden auras are revealed. Then you keep going through rounds of battle, playing new attack spells, until one creature dies. The other creature then becomes healed and moves onto the spot (or stays there if defending). When all your creatures are dead, you lose.

One interesting twist on the game is that each card has a code on the bottom, that you can enter onto their site. This adds the card to your virtual collection, with which you can play free online too. Magic should do that. No reason not to, since they have the whole online collection/interface thing well tested; they just need to drop a code on the front of the cards.

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