The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
WWE Supercard Review: Mobile Kayfabe Card Collecting
As mobile card games flood App Stores, the surging genre has become hard to topple with Top Grossing lists featuring tons of titles featuring both licensed franchises and extraordinarily weird concepts.
With games such as Marvel: War of Heroes, Star Wars Force Collection, and Transformers Legends dominating the franchised list, it’s only a matter of time before your beloved series gets mobile card battling money maker. This genre has proven to be extremely successful thanks to its obsessive nature and in-app purchases. Players get hooked on trying to obtain their favorite character’s card and add them to their collection. Dueling it out against players in familiar arenas as stat clashes and glorious graphics (for a card game) fill the screen of your phone or tablet has given millions of people delight.
I, myself, have even fallen for some of these games. Star Wars Force Collection has stolen many hours of my nights months ago after a friend showed me his five-star Han Solo card. Even Chaos Drive, an anime card game with way too many graphics, tickled my fancy as I threw cards as giant, ridiculous bosses. These games can be insanely fun and addicting. For the most part, they are simple to get into and give you plenty of rewards for downloading and playing them. They hook you in right from the start. Starting out with a rare card that has crazy good stats for a starter card makes you want more of them. Then you get another and the urge to play rises and rises.
2K Games saw this and most likely realized how easy it would be to join in on the frenzy with WWE Supercard, now out for the Android and iOS mobile platforms as a free app.
As the year rolls around to the annual release of WWE’s next console video game, 2K has been earning my top marks for what they are doing with WWE 2K15. After seeing screenshots, in-game footage from Gamescon, details on the story modes, and how they are turning the gameplay into more of a simulator I was ready to give 2K all my money. Then they released WWE Supercard and I got worried. As I saw with Star Wars Force Collection and Chaos Drive, mobile card games — while fun — are easy cash in titles that make many feel like a license is being milked for all its worth. Sure, WWE 2K15 is looking mighty fine but is the company going to saturate the market with WWE titles and run the franchise into the ground?
I’m happy to say that after fifteen or so hours of WWE Supercard plugged away, the WWE video game license is in good and loyal hands.
What Is WWE Supercard?
After that intro I guess you figured out that WWE Supercard is a mobile card battling game. That much is true. What it also is, is a very loyal game showcasing your favorite WWE Superstars — sorry, no CM Punk.
WWE Supercard gets a lot right and mainly due to sticking with kayfabe. For those uninitiated with the term, kayfabe refers to staying in true character or going off the assumption that staged acts are real. When you see a WWE Superstar act out on a Monday Night RAW and then see them on Twitter acting the same way, that’s what fans refer to as “sticking to kayfabe”. WWE Supercard stick to kayfabe.
All of the WWE Superstars featured in the WWE Supercard cards have stats (Power, Toughness, Speed, Charisma) and each Superstar is given stats based on their “ranking” within WWE’s roster. For instance, a Justin Gabriel rare-tier card will not have better stats than a Dolph Ziggler rare-tier card. The reason for this is because Justin Gabriel is a nobody within WWE (which is a shame, the guy has a ton of talent). Dolph, on the other hand, just won the Intercontinental Championship yesterday at Summerslam. Dolph is pretty high up there in terms of “roster position” and therefore destroys Justin Gabriel’s card in terms of stats.
That’s what WWE Supercard is all about: stats. Each card have four stats and each stat has a number with its own minimum value and maximum value. These stats can grow by training a card or combining it with another copy of the same exact card. Basically, you want better stats than your opponent in order to win card wrestling matches. For a quick example, if my rare-tier Batista card has a value of 148 in Power and goes up against a Super Rare Jey Uso card who only has 125 Power, my Batista will win. This continues until three matches has occurred and someone has won a best two-out-of-three. In the occasion of a tie, another match will be played to determine a winner. If you won, you get to pick two cards to add to your collection. If you lose, you get to pick one. It’s truly as simple as that.
Now, a WWE Supercard match has three different match types that include: a Singles match, a Tag Team match, or a Diva match. A Singles match involves you picking one card that is strong in a given stat. If the game is telling you that you are about to enter a Singles match focusing on Speed, then you’ll want to pick your best male WWE Superstar card that has the highest Speed stat. If your Speed stat is higher than the card chosen by your opponent, then you win that match. A Diva match is the same exact thing except you can only bring one Diva card in your deck, whereas you have four male Superstar cards to pick from.
Tag Team matches will also have stats attached to them but there is an added gameplay mechanic here. Besides the fact that you have to pick two Superstar cards for a Tag match, you can receive bonus stats by matching up diamond symbols. On each card you’ll see a diamond half: either a top portion and bottom portion or a left portion and right portion. If you have a Superstar card that has a left portion of a diamond and one that has a right portion, you’ll receive a bonus in the Tag Team match. The same works for a top portion card and a bottom portion card. However, if you mismatch cards with different portions, say a top portion and a right portion, both cards will have their stats reduced as a penalty.
The game does a great job with explaining how WWE Supercard battles work. I still see plenty of people, even in the higher tiers, mismatch in the Tag Team matches but aside from that everyone seems really evenly matched. This is helped by using a very genius matchmaking system. When you start out playing, you’ll be placed in the Rare tier. Tiers are meant to give you better chances at getting better cards when you pick your rewards after a battle. You go up in tiers by upgrading your deck. The stronger you are, the higher your tier. This is great because that means a new player won’t be going up against someone who has stacked Super Rares cards or bought themselves a deck full of Legendaries. You should always be evenly matched against your opponent.
At the moment, I am in the Ultra Rare tiers and my deck is populated by a Legendary Brock Lesnar, an Ultra Rare Alberto Del Rio, a Super Rare Rock, a Super Rare Batista, and a Rare Eva Marie diva card. At this point in the game, I am facing some really tough opponents where each match is up in the air unless I am using Lesnar. It’s important to upgrade all of your deck cards and not try to focus on just one. Before I started getting more Super Rares and above, my (first) Super Rare Rock card was my dominate weapon. After a while, this started to be a bad thing. Try and stay balanced and as you go up in tiers, you’ll be in a better place in battles.
Becoming The King of the Ring
A staple of WWE’s history, WWE Supercard includes a King of the Ring mode where you’ll be placed in a large pool of players vying for the top prize. I’ll forewarn you here, though. WWE Supercard’s King of the Ring mode is extremely long and offers paltry rewards for the time you have to invest into it.
There are 45 qualifying matches and then anywhere between 3 to 9 tournament matches. That may not sound too bad, however, there is an hour wait between each match and matches take 9 minutes to complete. This all equals up to a ton of time for rewards that seem too low in comparison to the investment.
When you are in a King of the Ring tournament, any cards in your deck and your supplement deck (14 cards in total — 2 decks) can not be used as training fodder or combined. You’ll have to wait until the end of the tournament to free up those cards. Not only that, but each card has a stamina bar that goes down with each match played. Stats are lowered as the stamina bar goes down. To replenish stamina you have to use Energy cards which are obtained by randomly pulling them from the rewards after an exhibition match. You can only carry 5 Energy cards at a time and you have five cards (ten if you include the supplement deck cards) to use them on if you really want to participate in the King of the Ring and do well.
Matches continue to go on at all times of the day. That means you may sleep through a number of matches without giving your cards Energy and wake up to find that you lost six or more matches because of this. To consistency do well in the King of the Ring you’d have to either fish for Energy cards in between each match or buy an item from the in-game store that automatically replenishes each card’s stamina for 8 games. This is honestly the only place I’ve seen in-app purchased make a difference. Aside from the stamina item, IAPs are almost useless in this game unless you want to advance your deck quicker instead of work at it normally.
To sum this all up, the King of the Ring mode offers rewards to everyone who participates. If you do not qualify to enter the tournament rounds, you’ll get one low tier card (depending on which matchmaking tier you’re in). If you qualify but do not pass the quarter finals, you’ll get a high tier card for your matchmaking tier. If you reach but do not advance from the semi-finals, you’ll get a high tier card and a low tier support/item card. If you get 2nd place, you’ll get a pair of high tier cards while the winner of the tournament gets a pair of high tier cards and a low tier support/item card. This means you’ll get a guaranteed high tier card if you at least qualify for the tournament rounds. This can be a great thing if you’re in a higher matchmaking tier like Super or Ultra Rare. However, is over 45 hours of effort worth only one card?
If you don’t plan on spending any money on this game but find yourself attached to it, you may find worth in these rewards but after my first (and so far, only) King of the Ring participation I found myself knocked out in the quarter finals with a final record of 29-17 and claiming my rare-tier David O’tunga card. I wound up using the card as training fodder for my rare-tier Batista and as of this writing have yet to enter another tournament. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Not when I can do 10 matches in less than 5 minutes and possibly find one to three rare cards or higher depending on my luck.
I hope to see a lot of improvements to this mode as I love the concept but find the investment to reward ratio severely lacking.
The Thrill of the Cards
If there is one thing that WWE Supercard does right, it is constantly giving you a reason to keep playing. You are always rewarded for what you do. Lose a match? Pick one card. Don’t qualify for the King of the Ring tournament rounds? Here’s a card. It doesn’t matter what you engage in, you’ll be rewarded. Of course, winning will give you the best results but giving you that constant feeling of progression helps a lot.
Games like Star Wars Force Collection make me feel like I’ll most likely never see the fruits of my labor due to high tier cards being so difficult to get. I was never able to match my friend’s awesome five-star Han Solo because it took me forever to get card packs and I never achieved better luck than a four-star Jabba the Hut. Yippie.
I never feel that way playing WWE Supercard. Every time I load up the app and play a few games I feel like I’ve progressed — even if it’s just a little. Each reward will either go towards building up my Energy and Boosts for my potential next King of the Ring tournament or add to my deck’s strength. Each battle gives me something and I like that. I know that by losing a match I won’t get two card rewards but I don’t get discouraged because, hey, I still get one card and that one card may prove substantial to helping me improve my chances. Instead of feeling like I suck and can’t get any further, each battle gives me just another piece of the puzzle in finding my way through the rough patches.
When I got my first Super Rare, The Rock, I was very happy and excited. It easily pumped my deck up a lot and until I started facing others with one or more Super Rares in their decks, any Charisma focused matches were basically mine for the taking. The Rock wouldn’t lose and I made my deck around him. When I got my first Ultra Rare, Alberto Del Rio, I did the same thing again and now I’m high balling with a Legendary Brock Lesnar (the champ is here!) and feeling great.
If my WWE Supercard review states one thing, it’s how great 2K balanced the reward system to help players stay motivated and not disgruntled.
What The Future Holds
Since WWE Supercard’s release, I’ve seen at least twelve of my friends get hooked on it and we’ve sent comparison screenshots and Facebook messages to each other showing off new cards, battle records, and King of the Ring stats. Just a few hours ago I sent a frantic picture message to my friend showing my brand new Legendary Brock Lesnar with the message “OMG OMG OMG”. WWE Supercard just does a great job at keeping me interested and ready for the next battle and the feeling seems to be pretty mutual among the playerbase.
There are plenty of things that 2K could do to make the app better in the future, though. First off, I’d like to know where my Summer Rae cards are for tiers higher than Uncommon. Come on, guys! How does Eva Marie have a Super Rare and Cameron a Legendary but Summer is stuck with an Uncommon. Not cool.
Seriously though, the app doesn’t perform very well over cellular data as network errors can creep up out of nowhere and could even result in you losing rewards after a match. The “My Cards” section could scroll faster as it feels like a chore to scroll passed your leveled up cards looking for that brand new, level one card you want to train up.
One major missing feature is the ability to find friends via Facebook or Google+ (the two networks you select from during initial startup) to have battles against your buddies. I’d like to see this implemented and perhaps even have tournaments with your friends, ala a quicker King of the Ring-like style.
I’d also like to see new modes come into play such as the Royal Rumble. Thirty players take their best card and using stat averages have one card eliminated every so often as stamina wears down. You would have to stay on top of your stamina and hope you have the power to outlast and out-power your way to victory. It would be a pretty hectic game mode, for sure.
All-in-all, 2K has delivered a very loyal card games that starts and stays fair and has plenty to offer to WWE fans. With WWE Supercard and what we’ve seen so far of WWE 2K15, having this company hold this license seems like a very good thing. Excuse me while I try and train up my Brock Lesnar card for future card-kicking battles.
- Simple rules
- Great presentation
- IAP included but definitely not needed
- Kayfabe stats
- Cards look great
- King of the Ring takes way too long for so little a reward
- Some missing wrestlers
- Included wrestlers don't always have card tiers up to Legendary