I have sunk countless hours into Solitairica, the singleplayer rogue-like card battler from Righteous Hammer Games. I’ve beaten everything there is to beat in the game, multiple times, and I doubt I’ll uninstall it any time soon. With the recent release of a DLC pack, dubbed the “Primal Champions,” I was eager to dive in for more.

In Solitairica, you’re battling the armies of Stuck in the land of Myriodd to unseat Emperor Stuck, the final boss. You have a normal deck of sequential Solitaire-style cards, but the cards in the deck take on one, or a combination of two, energies: attack, defense, agility, and willpower. Energy is used to cast spells based on the type of energy accumulated.

You gain energy by drawing cards or by destroying cards of that energy type. You destroy cards by drawing a card that is one less or one above any of the enemy’s face cards, and the object of each battle (featuring a variety of monsters with procedurally-generated traits like Explosive and Bureaucrat) is to destroy all the enemy cards. You have infinite cards, and can lose if you lose all of your health. Enemies directly do damage to that health and can create special cards that do damage to you in different ways.

Like I said, it’s great fun. The base game came with decks that each specialized in two energies. For example, there is the Warrior deck, which combines the defense and attack energies or the Paladin deck, which combines defense and willpower energies.

The Primal DLC introduces four new decks and a new “Epic” difficulty level. The four new decks are single-energy, a new wrinkle given each deck previously contained two energies. The new decks are Barbaian (Attack),   Vanguard (Defense), Acrobat (Agility) and Sorcerer (Willpower).

They create an interesting dynamic. You can still use spells of other energies, but you will only gain energy of that type from destroying enemy cards, while drawing cards from your own deck only gives you energy of that type. The Barbarian deck has spells that rely on destroying enemy cards fast, and penalize you if you hang onto your energy without spending it.

Vanguard is my new favorite deck, as it allows you to increase your defense quickly, and then sacrifice that defense to destroy enemy cards. There is an agility spell you can buy in later levels that allows you to reduce the cost of spells by one energy, and targeting agility cards of my opponent with my defensive spells allow me to use that agility spell to … make my defensive spells cheaper, of course.

It all works very well. The new decks seem well-balanced and well worth the price of admission.

Then we come to the new “Epic” difficulty level. After buying all deck upgrades, there really isn’t a point to accrue “Wildstone,” the currency you get from beating enemies. With a tougher difficulty, getting through for the challenge of it all is the goal, and what a challenge it is.

They manage to create a higher difficulty level by adding some of the later enemies earlier in your run, so you have had less time to buy new spells and upgrades before facing them. The tougher traits can also be assigned to early enemies as well, so the randomness can occasionally create an extremely difficult situation in your second or third battle.

I’ve managed to beat the new difficulty with just one deck, the Vanguard deck, and have had trouble beating enemies early on with other decks. But it doesn’t feel unfair for the most part, and I plan on chipping away at it until I can say I truly have completed Solitairica.

Fans of the base game and fans of card battlers should pick this one up sooner rather than later.

Solitairica is currently free to try on Google Play, with a one-time purchase to unlock the full game. The Primal DLC is $1.

And yes, in the screenshot above, I have manipulated a combination of spells to force the cooldown on that opponent’s attack to over 110 million turns.

Destination: Recommended

James Brady

James founded Destination Android and writes about sports for Vox Media's SB Nation. He is a mindless jerk who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

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