Crystal Clans is a two-player card game by Plaid Hat Games that many consider the successor of Summoner Wars. Now, I’ve never played Summoner Wars so I can’t comment on that, however I did play a lot of CCGs growing up like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh.
Before I get to my overall thoughts on the game, I’ll run through how you play Crystal Clans.
How to Play
Crystal Clans is a game of asymmetric gameplay; combining area control, hand management, and resource management. Both players choose one of the six starting clan decks to use each game. Each of these clan decks has very unique gameplay, but the win condition is always the same: collect four crystals before your opponent.
To collect a crystal you need to control two of the three crystal zones and pay an initiative cost equal to the crystal’s value, or, invade your opponent. Everything in this game is made possible thanks to the initiative tracker. This may be my favourite part of Crystal Clans. You can do as much as you want on you turn but as soon as the initiative track moves over to your opponent’s side of the track, your go is over.
You can do several actions such as summon a squad, activate a squad, score, replenish, or invade. Summoning a squad allows you to place up to three of you units into your home zone. You spend initiative equal to their total summon cost. Activating a squad allows you to move it and activate the top card’s ability. You can also start a battle to gain control of different zones on the board. Scoring is purchasing a crystal described above.
Replenish allows you to spend three initiative to discard cards from your hand to draw back up to five. Invading allows you to discard cards from the top of your opponent’s deck so long as you control their home zone for three initiative.
Overall, the core gameplay in Crystal Clans is very simple and easy to get started with. The depth of this game comes from learning the different clans and understanding how to control the initiative track.
My Thoughts on Crystal Clans
Now, I haven’t been able to get into a card game in a long time. The friends I used to play with have all moved on and are too busy for them, whilst my wife doesn’t enjoy them either. However, if I was going to get into a new card game, Crystal Clans would probably be it.
It has the right level of complexity to random chance from the card draws. It also has this awesome rock, paper, scissors mechanic that allows for some incredible mind games and outplay moments in battles. Essentially, when you do battle you choose a battle card from your hand to assign to the fight. It is made up of its own battle style as well as effects depending on the opponent’s battle style.
For example, my opponent plays a battle style of Bold. I then check my card to see what effect Bold gives me. If it has activated the left side of my card I get a great bonus to stats or a new effect for the fight. If it activated the right side it is usually just a worse version of the left side. This can be enough to swing the tides of battle though so it’s important to choose your cards wisely.
There will be a bunch of expansions released for Crystal Clans, as well as a new way of constructing decks so that you get some customisation in there too.