C’mon Kids – Redakai review

Another day, another CCG. Walk into your local hobby shop and you’ll invariably be dazzled by the range of collectible games out there. Throw in the array of Living Card Games and you may well just want to throw the towel in before you even get in on the ground floor, but before you back away slowly in a mix of terror and confusion, I want to talk about Redakai.

Aimed at a younger market than you or I, Redakai isn’t your average card game. A lot of people will take one look at it and instantly dismiss the whole thing. Sure, it’s based on a licensed property. Sure, the game is simple in the extreme. Sure, it’s meant to be for kids. What’s the problem? A good game should be able to stand on its own feet. A good game is a good game, no matter how old the people who play it. And Redakai is a good game. Actually, it’s better than that – it’s one of my favourite CCGs at the moment.

A set of three starting characters. The 3D and lenticular effects of the cards are really excellent - photos don't do the justice!

Based on the cartoon of the same name, two players fight it out in a bid to knock out the opposition’s three characters. Each character has three little yellow bars (their lives, essentially) in the top right corner of their card as well as coloured sections going down the left hand side. These sections, either red, blue or green, have numbers upon them which represent your defensive scores for that character at the time. By playing attacks on your opponent of matching colours (but higher numbers) you’ll be able to chip away at their team, slowly knocking them down.

Attacks are played by spending the in-game currency, called Kairu. Starting the game with a paltry three Kairu, you add one each turn which can be spent on as many (or as few) cards as possible. However, it’s not just offensive moves that are at your disposal – that would make for a rather short game. Your starting characters are actually rather weak little things, but you can augment their powers by playing Monsters on them, boosting their strength and defensive powers as well as potentially granting them special abilities. Transforming your team into powerful beasts while landing increasingly hefty attacks on your opponent is the key to the game, but there are also cards that can be played as instants (called Reacts).

The red marker on the top right means a life is lost thanks to attacks. In the middle our little guy seems to have changed somewhat...

So far, so standard – it’s a solid game and easy to understand (in fact there’s even a stripped down version of the rules for even younger players). Designed by the team at Gary Games (who were also behind the excellent Ascension titles) you would expect the game to work well. So why am I loving Redakai so much? One reason. Redakai has something going for it that will hopefully bring a whole new generation of gamers into the hobby… it looks utterly amazing.

Spin Master and Gary Games have created a CCG that truly looks like no other. Instead of being printed on standard paper cards, each one is on specially designed lenticular plastic that give the effect of 3D. Attacks and Monsters are stacked on top of each other so it actually appears that they’re hitting enemies or changing your own characters – and that is not to be underestimated. Children (and big kids) love cool stuff, and Redakai looks very cool indeed. Combine that with a decent game and you’re on to a winner.

This is (some of) what you get in the Championship Tin set. You don't need all this stuff (it helps though!), but obviously you'll need two decks to play the game...

A minor issue: Redakai isn’t actually officially available outside of North America at the moment. In a recent interview I had with Johnny O’Neal from Spin Master, I was told that it’ll be rolling out worldwide during 2012. In the meantime, you can visit your favourite online auction site to pick it up, and if you are interested in the game I’d suggest you get your hands on the Championship Tin which comes with a decently balanced deck, a box to hide and draw your cards from and a rack to keep them secret.

So, Redakai. A simple game that’s easy to get into and looks fantastic. Best of all, it’s only just beginning. Why not get in on the ground floor?

Redakai was designed by Justin Gary, John Fiorillo and Brian Kibler. It was first published by Spin Master in 2011 and is available widely in the US, but will be making its way around the world next year. For more information, visit the official Redakai Dojo or check out Campfire Burning’s excellent Tales from the Fireside column which is right here!

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