Shadow Era (Free) by Kyle Poole is a collectible trading card game made for your iPhone and iPad.
If you've ever played Magic: The Gathering, then you have probably wondered why they haven't made a digital version for iOS devices. Well, to save you the trouble of waiting for something that may never happen, there is now an alternative: Shadow Era for your iPhone and/or iPad.
While this isn't exactly MtG, the premise is pretty simple. You have a "hero," which is your main character. Your hero has a certain amount of health points and will have an ability that can be used in battle. From the start, you can choose one free starter deck that features a different hero in both male and female variants, each with their own special ability. Your deck will consist of a mix of different ally and ability cards.
The phases of the game start with you drawing a card and then sacrificing one to use as a "resource" - allies and abilities require resources to use, so you have to sacrifice cards that may not be of use to you. This is pretty good because it makes you think strategically. Once you have enough resources, you can summon an ally or cast an ability. Allies summoned during the current turn cannot attack the same turn, but previously summoned allies can attack any of your enemy targets or the enemy hero themselves.
If you didn't get any of the stuff I just said in the above paragraph, don't worry - the game has a tutorial that will guide you through the basics in your first battle. It's gameplay is pretty simple enough to pick up after a few moments.
Like any other card game, the goal is to reduce your enemies HP to 0; in this case, you have to strike the hero with your summonable ally cards. Remember that like other TCGs, strategy is required. Defeating the enemy will earn you experience and gold. Experience will make your hero stronger, and the gold can be used to purchase individual cards from the shop.
You can play against the CPU or through online multiplayer from the game menu. There are also options to manage your deck cards, visit the merchant, change game options like sound, music, and game speed, and view your own status.
Shadow Crystals are the currency required to purchase new decks or booster packs. These can be bought in the following amounts: 200 (20 bonus) for $1.99, 500 (100 bonus) for $4.99, 1000 (300 bonus) for $9.99, and 2000 (700 bonus) for $19.99.
Booster packs can be bought for 100 shadow crystals, contain 10 commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare/epic, and 1 hero. Additional starter decks, including the exclusive Shadow, Wulven, and Elemental heroes are 100 shadow crystals each.
While some may complain that having to buy more cards with real money is a ripoff, the developers are only asking pretty much $1 for either a booster pack or a starter deck. Most other card games (digital or real life) will cost you about $4 for a booster pack alone. So I believe that the prices are fair. You can also keep playing the game enough to buy individual cards with gold you earn for winning.
Frankly, I'm quite impressed with the artwork - it really reminds me of MtG cards back from when I used to play. The graphics overall look pretty good on whichever device you play it on.
The game itself plays smoothly on both the iPad and iPhone. Shadow Era requires you to create an account in order to play, but this means that all your progress and cards are saved on their servers and you simply need to login to your account on whichever iOS device you are using to pick up where you left off. Sometimes I feel that there are too many taps required to select a card, target it, cast abilities, and attack, but I suppose there isn't a better way to do that for a card game on iOS yet.
While Shadow Era is supported on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generation, and iPad and iPad 2, I would recommend that this game is best played on the iPad because of the large screen. It can get a bit hard to read the text of cards comfortably on the smaller screens, but the game is by all means playable.
Currently, the game does not support iPhone 3G or iPod Touch 2nd generation because of a bug that causes the older devices to run out of memory and crash. However, the developers are working on a fix already.
If you are a TCG fan that's been looking for an iOS TCG, here it is. It's not exactly Magic: The Gathering but it's a good digital substitute. More information can be learned about Shadow Era from their website, http://www.shadowera.com which includes game rules, full card list, tutorials, active forums, and even a way to play the game online from your browser!
Interested in trying the game out for yourself on your iDevice? Then pick it up for free (with in-app purchases) in the App Store.