|Multiplayer:||Online asynchronous and pass-to-play|
|AI:||Yes, in practice mode.|
|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
|Purchase for iPhone:||Use link below to purchase universal app|
|Purchase for iPad:||
GD Star RatingStak Bots,
Stak Bots is a slightly kooky deck building game from DogEared Games. Released as a physical edition earlier this year at the UK Game Expo, Stak Bots is now available on iPad. The developer’s blurb on the Stak Bots website, says it is a “very versatile vertical expandable battling card game”. That’s one heck of a mouthful for what is a simple and fun game!
Stak Bots is a game which at first glance appears a bit shallow. However, you will quickly discover that there is considerable depth to the game, and quite a degree of customisation available. Sure, there are plenty of deeper deck building games available, but their complexity makes them less approachable by younger or less experienced card players.
Each player has a “Stak” (deck) of “Bots” (cards with a variety of robots). Some of these are “Core Bots”, basic cards which can be quite strong but have no additional abilities. Specialist bots have extra abilities which, when combined strategically can result in powerful attacks.
At the start of the game each player is dealt their cards. A quick-fire “last bot standing” style battle ensues, reminiscent of Top Trumps; the winner is the last player with cards still in their Stak. There is a catch, however. If a player has cards in their hand, but none in their Stak, then they’re out of the game.
As the top card of both players is face-up and visible, you can make informed decisions. Each turn is made up of three actions which can be performed in any order: play, scrap, attack. For example, you can choose which of your cards to attack your opponent with. Next you can play additional cards to strengthen your attack and finally you scrap as many of their cards as possible. This whole sequence is carried out rapidly in the game, and it can often have unexpected results, which is where the game gets interesting. Some Bots have entry effects, so actions can occur before the the standard power points are applied, like pushing the other player’s top card to the bottom of their Stak. There is definitely more strategy than luck in this game, and the fact you can customise your decks brings a good bit of replayability to Stak Bots.
Whilst you can continue to play in practice mode as much as you like, multiplayer (online or local device-sharing) is where the real fun is to be had. In fact, you are encouraged to get into some online games as soon as you’ve completed the tutorial. You can have several asynchronous 2-player games running simultaneously.
Simplistic and fun artwork will definitely appeal to a younger audience or those who have a taste for retro. I found the sound effects and music very irritating, but thankfully they can be disabled. There’s an interactive tutorial when you first play the game which is easy to follow. A few practice playthroughs are all you need to get the hang of Stak Bots, making it accessible to all ages.
The free app is fully playable with no limit on the number of games. Each day there is a different deck of the day freely available to play, in addition to the standard deck. Sometimes these feature new expansion bots, whilst other times it will explore deck composition or different strengths of existing cards.
There are some additional in-app purchases available, none of which are necessary to enjoy or win the game. Of course, if you want to get serious with Stak Bots, then the IAP will certainly help. You can create more decks using the custom deck creator (one-off IAP) and purchase packs of additional expansion bots to put into your custom decks (4 at a time, again as one-off IAP). Finally, you can remove iAds with another one-off purchase. Personally, I would prefer a one-off “upgrade to the full version” price that removes ads and gives you all the goodies too. Although, unlike a lot of similar games, the IAP is cheap and fair.
7/10 An ideal starter game to bring younger gamers into the thrilling world of deck building. Good fun for all the family, but more seasoned players may soon lose interest. Fun graphics, a solid implementation, and lots of potential.