My comic store's first ever Kingdom Hearts card game demo/tournament did actually happen today, and Josh and I were in attendance. We only had six people playing (including the store co-owner who was running the event), but I've been at Origins events that were far worse.
I had not played the game prior to today, but I did build a deck and read through the rulebook. It is a very simple game, with a pleasant amount of card types that are mostly all playable through some easy mathematical triggers. Like, you have to have a magic-user with a skill of 3 or greater to play a level 3 magic card, that sort of thing. Mainly, I was here for the free demo deck and promo card.
Although there are some definite theme-breakers in the card game (like keyblade cards being reduced to one-off attack bonuses, booo), one thing that the card game gets exactly right is the weird juxtaposition of Disney characters and a serious, moderated presentation. The Kingdom Hearts video games are, for me, most notable because they offer a shared-universe, philosophically-heavy, non-frivolous view of the Disney films. We're all very used to the Thanksgiving Parade version of Disney, where ridiculous costumes gad about in insulting synchronized dances designed to remind you to spend money at the Disney parks while the brain-dead co-hosts muddle through animal puns cribbed from a Dixie cup... but Kingdom Hearts reminds the player that all of this Mickey Mouse marketing avalanche was elaborated out of a pile of damn good movies. Kingdom Hearts returns you to the upstream source of what made the Disney company great. The card game designers were very cognizant of this, and it shows in the game's graphic layouts and overall design.
What is most exciting about the Kingdom Hearts TCG is that this is only the beginning. Japan has already had like seven expansion sets, so I can't wait to see what additional layers of complexity will overlay this simple debut edition. There is obviously a lot of material yet to be mined: Organization XIII, Riku and Kairi, the princesses, sequel summons like Chicken Little and Stitch, the Final Fantasy characters, and plenty of untapped movie worlds (Tron, Steamboat Willie, Pirates, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Winnie the Pooh, etc).
Unfortunately, I did not fare so well in the tournament...
We did three rounds and I lost each time. And I had even brought my own deck! Josh played with two demo decks mashed together, and he also scored a L-L-L.
My games were all close, with me getting my opponent down to 1 or 2 or 3 life every time... but my real excuse for losing is that we were all tripped up on a stupid vague rule, and all three of my opponents were able to take advantage of it. If I could have, I would have as well, so I don't blame them... I just think it was a bad interpretation of something the rulebook doesn't explain very well.
The situation was this: do Magic/Friend cards count as magical attacks? The ruling we played under was that they are. I did not agree with this, but I did not press the issue.
There is this big bad Heartless (the Gargoyle) who can only be killed by magic attacks... magic attacks being spell cards that require a magic-user Friend to play and then do X magic damage to the enemy. Generally speaking, if you're confronted with a Gargoyle and you don't have any magic cards in hand, you should probably just lump it and escape the battle. Magic/Friend cards, on the other had, are cards that require a magic-user to play, but then sit on the table as Friend cards that vanish at the end of the turn. Magic/Friend cards have an attack value and a magic value... but it's the ATTACK value that you add to Sora's attack, not the magic value. This says to me that, once played, Magic/Friend cards are not, in and of themselves, providing a magical attack. They could act as a magic-user and play magic cards, but if you use them personally in the battle, they boost Sora's attack, not his magic.
In every game, I dropped the Gargoyle on my opponent, and, after that initial flawed (IMO) resolution, my opponent got around the Gargoyle by having a Magic/Friend (big hitters Genie or Simba) combo with Sora's attack to kill it. I'm pretty sure I would have won some of my matches if this ruling had not gone the way it did. But the rulebook is not clear on this issue. I hated to contest the ruling because, well, it would have clearly benefitted me and I'm just not that aggressive a player with strangers. Although should Josh and I and others play this game, I'm going to argue my case and get that shit fixed.
UPDATE: I'm right. Now I'm pissed.
Here's the promo card:
Sora, in Halloween Town guise. Bizarre re-do of the card layout though... the stats are nothing like the design on a regular player card. And, hilariously, his Attack/Magic values are on the wrong colors, which could lead one to think that the numbers are reversed.
This initial set is not a very large card pool (only 60-some cards) so after one starter and twelve boosters, I am done buying cards already. I hear that the first expansion set is out early next year, so I will be watching the game's website for announcements.
Be warned, this game has one of those obnoxious deals where you're supposed to clip proof-of-purchases off your booster wrappers in the vain hope that someday the company will provide a way to redeem them for something. This only results in me keeping dictionary-definition trash in my house, and I hate that about me.