Solo card games have been getting a bit more attention lately with the launch of Hearthstone’s Dungeon run mode, and the surprise success of Slay the Spire. But these titles aren’t the only games to feature roguelike card based dungeon crawling. Back in 2016 a little game called Solitairica captured the feel of these games, and is available for free on your phone.
The goal of Solitairica is to defeat all 18 bosses in a single run. As the name implies, it’s a bit like solitaire. Each enemy’s health is represented by stacks of cards, with the top card revealed. You also have a deck with a single card revealed. To damage your opponent, you must grab cards from their stacks that are one rank higher or lower than your revealed card. After taking a card from the enemy, it becomes your new top card. If you are unable to take a card you must draw from your deck, but when you do the enemy gets to attack you. These attacks can take the form of damage, messing around with cards, stunning your abilities, and more. Some attacks are telegraphed, requiring many draws from your deck before going off. These will be more severe, but you have time to prepare.
In the last paragraph I mentioned abilities. You start with 4, but can unlock more, and different ones as you go along. Abilities are powered by 1 of 4 types of energies: attack, defense, agility, and willpower. These energies are also the 4 suites of cards. Each time you draw a card from your deck, or take one from the enemy’s stack, you gain an energy of that type. More powerful abilities have higher energy costs.
When you start a run you select a class. This class determines your 4 starting abilities, but also the contents of your draw deck. Each class will only have 2 suites in their draw deck, making energy of those types much more plentiful. This system helps guide playstyles, while still allowing for variety in builds.
Each boss is procedurally generated, a combination of traits that determines their moves. Most of the time the power of your deck determines victory, allowing you to ignore most of what they do. Exceptions include bosses with really large telegraphed attacks you need to prep for or else get one-shotted, and those who place out special cards into their health pool.
In between each boss battle you get to shop. Here you purchase new spells as well as items that provide passive bonuses. This is where the real magic happens. Creating combos and min maxing your builds is half the fun of this game.
There are also persistent rewards, shards that allow you to power up an individual class between runs. You get large amounts when you die, more for getting further along, but you can acquire small amounts randomly during bosses as well. These allow you to carry more passive items, as well as special bonuses for cards in your personal deck. Personally, I love this aspect, and think it should be in any good roguelike. It helps alleviate the sting of a lost run, while making your future attempts easier.
Each run gives you a new opportunity to create an overpowered deck and test its capabilities against the various bosses. It’s a quick game and easy to understand, I highly recommend it. Fortunately, there’s very little barrier to entry, the base game is free. In this version you only have access to the Warrior class, and may optionally watch videos between each boss to double your gold earnings. While it’s nice they made ads optional, the amount of gold you get from not watching isn’t going to get you too far. After I beat it with the Warrior, watching an ad after each boss, I still hadn’t had enough. I went ahead and purchased the full game to get the other classes, and get the double gold without ads.
I recommend you at least check out the free version, if you like it go ahead and purchase the full game. This is a high quality and original mobile game, with very fair pricing. By rewarding their hard work and commitment to quality, hopefully we can get more games like this, and discourage exploitative pricing schemes in the mobile games market.