Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
When I was a child, my grandparents would come to visit our family often. For me, this meant partners to play cards with. Our marathon sessions consisted in playing Gin Rummy for hours at a time. Because my grandmother was an excellent card player, I first had to learn how to lose with grace before I became accomplished enough to begin winning my own hands as well. I now enjoy playing cards with my own son, but we try to mix up the games that we play as he does not always appreciate the intensity of playing Gin with me or the amount of losing he needs to experience until he can beat me - now a formidable player in my own right.
Because of my love of card games, I was very eager to review the new Duckie Deck Card Wars, a digital card game based on the game War - a game of luck that still asks young children to use their number skills to determine who has won a hand by displaying the high card in the draw-style game of chance. I am very pleased by the presentation of this digital card game as players share opposite halves of the iPad, here split into rich, pleasing, blue and pink sides of the screen, complete with a deck of cards for each participant. Mild shadowing is also used to create the effect of cards placed on top of the screen for a realistic-looking effect players will benefit from. To play, each player taps their card, which will in turn move these cards center screen and flip over. Children will then look at each other's cards, decide who has the highest hand, and drag both cards to the winning side of the iPad.
I admire how, while in keeping with traditional rules of play, Duckie Deck has added a lot of style to their version of this classic game. The soundtrack has a vaguely period tone in keeping with this warring kings-and-queens theme, complete with a lot of suspense that elevates this most basic game of luck. There is some colorful confetti seen when losing cards are won by the victor - also a nice visual note that I appreciate. When matching cards are played, this becomes a war - a high stakes part of the game where four cards - three face down and one face up - are added to the pile. My son and I really have fun with the added sword graphic during this time, making the most of anticipating when multiple cards may be won or sacrificed - thoughtful inclusions that make this game fun for adults as well as for their young counterparts.
Another interesting change made to this game is the cards themselves. Typically, decks of cards include two colors and four sets that are pretty much universal to all decks of playing cards. I have always found the look of standard cards to be oddly comforting, feeling at home from bicycle cards to casino decks with little in the way of variation of appearance. Instead of suits, Duckie Deck has chosen a different approach of whimsy, as here the cards are in full color and include objects such as three football helmets, six green apples, ten musical notes, a queen who plays ping pong, or a king who is a DJ complete with records and a headset. The different illustrations used on these cards seem endless and players will get a kick out of seeing the various images chosen to illustrate these numbers
Although the game of War (and Card Wars) can be enjoyed for the simple game that it is, I really enjoy using this app to explore the most basic concepts of probability when playing with my son. I oftentimes allow him to turn over his card first instead of the both of us flipping at once. Based on the single card turned over, I like to predict the outcome of the round, speculating that low cards like a 2 or a 3 will be losers while high face cards are quite lucky, as well as cautious optimism for the player turning over such cards such as a jack or 10.
Duckie Deck Card Wars is a wonderful choice of an app that can be shared between adults and children or simply children playing together. With noted exceptions, when my son and his friend share my phone during pickup after sports practice, much of this time is one child playing a game and with the other boy waiting his turn. With Card Wars, there is true cooperative play happening within this app that parents will approve of and can be enjoyed by preschool-aged and older children as a way to pass time or as a family activity.
Duckie Deck Card Wars was never intended to replace playing cards in real life, but to create interest in games like War that children can play with the adults in their lives. The convenience of being able to play a quick hand in bed before nightly tucks, during a car ride, or otherwise traveling should not be underestimated, however. This is just one of the reasons that this is an app to easily recommend to families.
I would also like to let readers know that during this Christmas season, Duckie Deck will be making each of their apps as free for a day. Do check their schedule through Christmas to see what application has become free during this short time period.