Card games are obviously a popular pastime, with Magic: The Gathering being the biggest example that comes to mind.
I can’t say I know much about these games because I tend to stick with a regular deck. Poker is just about my limit, although my brother did collect Pokemon trading cards when he was young so I understand the enjoyment you can get out of these games on a second hand basis.
When it comes to computer versions of these games though, not much immediately springs to mind. I know there are highly popular versions of these games out there, but they never really cross my radar.
But I came to this game with some interest. It’s well presented and has an interesting name; the Necronomicon has a long history. Google it!
Let the game begin.
You start with a pretty basic set-up. You and your opponent have five cards each and you must play a card each turn. These have different effects, such as causing damage or putting various buff effects in play. The idea is to get your opponent’s health down to zero.
Of course, there are some trickier aspects to it.
Every card has a points score. When you play one, these points are taken away from a sanity counter. More powerful cards drain your sanity by a larger amount, giving a trade-off between really hurting your opponent and driving yourself further towards a mental breakdown.
If your sanity reaches zero before you kill your opponent, you go MENTAL. So to speak.
As you would expect, going insane doesn’t really help your chances much. You will be given a random mental illness that will affect your game. Some of these aren’t too troublesome, such as removing buffs and preventing summons.
Others are devastating and can ruin any hope you had of winning. You can become heavily poisoned, draining your life in no time flat, or be reduced to only having a choice of two cards to use instead of five.
Once you go insane, it’s going to take more than a self-help book to get you out of it.
Now for the buffs. There are three status bonuses you can gain – arcane power (extra damage for some cards), the elder sign (bonus defence), and taint (you are poisoned).
All of these can be increased without limit – the higher the number, the more potent the effect.
You can also summon beasties to help your fight – some of these come with bonus attacks, but all will counter attack your opponent if he dares to strike you. Serves the bastard right (though of course, his beasties won’t take too kindly to you).
The last thing you need to know is the levelling system.
After each fight you win, your opponent will gain a level. With it will come more health and more cards.
The problem is, you won’t always gain a level to match him/her. To level up, you have to perform well during your battle as you gain experience for remaining health and damage dealt minus damage taken.
If you’re not careful, this can lead to your opponent hopelessly out-levelling you, making the game unbeatable. This is the only real flaw with the game though, so it’s best just to get practicing.
There are also 21 tough challenges to beat outside of the main game. These range from the slightly tricky (beat an opponent with a bit more health than you) to the near impossible (such as insanely high taint, having next to no health, or a near unkillable opponent). These have been designed to drive you nuts.
Damn. Dead again.
This game is really good fun and I’m sorry that I don’t know of many others like it. There are other card games out there of course, such as Kongai and Elements, but for my money this is the best example.
It’s got a creepy vibe, the cards are well-drawn and well-balanced, and there is definitely a strategy to it.
There is also a strong element of luck, but don’t let this put you off. It’s a game probably best played in chunks – get past a few levels, quit, then come back a few days later.
Because if you play too long, it’s certain that you’ll end up going insane.
See if you can play your cards right: The Necronomicon
Written by: Richard Wilson
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