NanoStar Castles Combines Golf and Magic In Medieval Facebook Card Game

Digital Chocolate new Facebook card game, NanoStar Castles, has just gone live. We looked at it as part of a larger analysis of the company’s strategy on Wednesday. Now, here’s our more detailed review of the app.

Stemming from the reverse of a simple card game called “Golf” and combined with concepts from collectible card games (CCG) like Magic: The Gathering, NanoStar Castle is the first Facebook title to show off Digital Chocolate’s new NanoStar concept.

The goal of the game is simple enough: Using a standard 52 card deck, players are given four cards. Two are face up and two are face down. Now, neither player initially knows the value of the face down cards, thus a little bit of strategy and luck already come into play. The idea is to have the total value of all four of your cards exceed that of your opponent’s. Simple, right?

Simple. Yes. But boring. Also, yes. Luckily, this is where the NanoStar element comes into play. Users can buy virtual goods within the “Nanoverse,” that will act as power-ups across the various NanoStar games. In the case of Castles, they act as “Nobles,” and these cards are what brings that strategic element to this simple app.

Each turn, players will draw two cards. The first is a noble. Now, depending on the card drawn, various abilities will become available. For example, a powerful card called “Architect” stems from the NanoStar avatar ROTFL (a play on the IM term “rolling on the floor laughing”). Using this card will turn all of your aces, twos, and threes into kings, the highest value suit. Another card, “Crusader,” from the avatar Excalibur, will turn a single card into a king. Of course, this works in the reverse as well, some cards can sabotage an enemy hand as well, such as “Bad Breath” (Ogre) that turns an enemy king into a two, or “Bombshell” (Mega Fox – i.e. Megan Fox) that has a chance to block enemy nobles from play.

These cards can be used immediately or held and played together for devastating results. The key is to know when and where to put them on the field. Furthermore, there is a tremendous number of avatars to collect, making the number of potential strategies enormous.

After drawing a noble card, players then draw their second card from the deck of normal cards, and either replace one of their four or discard. This adds a small bit of strategy and luck as well. By replacing a face down card, you could be replacing a better card, but you will now know what lies there. However, during the enemy turn, players could take that better card from the top of the discard pile instead of the deck. On the other hand, you could be setting up for a strategy, such as building up aces, twos, and threes, then playing the Architect noble. Regardless of choice, however, each one has a significant risk.

The risk comes from the ability to “knock.” When a player feels they have a chance to win, they can subtract the knock value (which decreases each turn) from their total to stop the player from using any more nobles. Each player will then draw one last card from the discard pile or deck of suit cards, and the totals are tallied. The one with the most points between all four suit cards wins.

Overall, Castles is a lot of fun. The games don’t last very long and it takes about five minutes to learn. Nonetheless, as you can see, it would take significantly longer to learn all the potential strategies.