There are very few games out there like Culdcept Revolt. Digital card games and board games typically push for multiplayer experiences. They grant you all the (or at least the bare minimum) in tools and resources you need to pit yourself against other players. Culdcept, while offering a multiplayer experience, builds itself around a single-player story, and introduces new mechanics and cards that tie to it. It’s an interesting concept. It lets the game layer on more and more complex ideas as the player gets farther in and gains more experience.
The basic rules of Culdcept are simple. Characters, known as Cepters, move around a game board and summon monsters to build up magic. A Cepter wins after they reach a certain threshold in total collected magic. The quickest way to collect magic is by summoning monsters to matching board territories. Cepters can fight opponent’s monsters on territories they don’t control if they land on them to try and take them over if they fail to take the space they have to pay a toll of their remaining magic stock. Players can spend magic to upgrade their territories, which will increase the toll cost of the space as well as boost the monster on it (assuming it has a matching type with the space).
An average Culdcept match can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on how (un)lucky you are. Matches move pretty fast early on, but take a little longer the further in you get as the strategy gets more intense and the boards get larger. Later matches really start to revolve around how quickly you can circle the board. The faster you complete a lap, the faster you gain magic to spend on summons and upgrade your current on-board monsters.
The game supplements bigger boards by giving you access to cards that can hop to open spaces that match their typing, effects that prevent your monsters from becoming tired after taking actions, and damage reductions or multipliers. Sometimes the extra 20-30 damage you land off an attack this way can shift the tide of battle, as taking even more high-level territory can set a player back a good 1k-2k magic. Matches can be completely flip-flopped by this, as getting set behind is pretty bad. It’s a weird balancing mechanic and makes losing high-cost territory feel awful, but at the same time, it can cement a victory against an opponent very early on. It’s hard to make recoveries in Culdcept if you have to pay a huge max-level toll, since you have to sell off territory when you don’t have enough magic to pay the fee.
A lot of the game’s strategy comes down to how you abuse the field, and this forces you to constantly change your decks around to answer whatever new mechanic the game throws at you. It’s an interesting way to keep the game engaging and make the most out of all the cards in the game’s catalogue.
A lot of your enjoyment from Culdcept Revolt comes from how patient you are. Cards are obtained through packs, and these aren’t cheap. Matches give you a certain amount of GP currency for clearing them one, and then slightly less every time after, but this GP is barely enough to buy 2 or so packs after every match. It can be an agonizing grind sometimes to get to the cards you need since your only hope is to win the lottery off a pack opening. It’s even worse if something you’re looking for is in a higher rarity, as those are limited to 1 copy per pack, meaning more potential grind time. Despite this frustration though, building decks is pretty fun. I always had at least 3 different decks I would swap between on a given section. Often times I could make something workable, even if I lacked stronger rare cards.
There are four main color types in Culdcept and a fifth colorless option. A lot of these have pre-built synergy, but there are plenty of options you can take when making a deck to mix and match. You’re going to be making a lot of decks too, since the best way to ensure victory on any given board is to have a deck with colors that counter your opponent’s strategy, and those strategies will differ wildly from character to character. Your only threats early on will be monster-heavy decks, but by the second or third expansion you can expect to see more destruction effects, cards that mess with the playing field, and effects that can remove or reverse bonuses. This works its way back into the grind aspect, since you’ll lack all of the new cards and mechanics being introduced and have to go your first few matches without them unless you commit to earning more GP to buy a bunch of packs when a new expansion starts.
Culdcept Revolt is definitely not a game for everyone. Its heavy focus on strategy and grind-heavy aspects will quickly take a toll on anyone wanting a quick and streamlined experience. There is a good amount of mechanical depth to Culdcept, and the game does a nice job of slowly introducing mechanics overtime to help keep the game feeling fresh between matches. It’s an interesting title, and combines aspects from a lot of different strategy games to build a weird card game/board game/base building hybrid.