Quick Hits is a daily segment at NCG that highlights games that may have been forgotten, will never be found, or otherwise deserve notice.
I first played Calculords when I was living in Japan. It was winter and I was depressed as shit, with no way to play games outside of my Japanese iPhone 4 and a decrepit Macbook. It was a ray of light I desperately needed.
Calculords is a weird game, made by a weird dude, the industry legend Sean Baby. It’s a turn based card game. You deploy units via cards in your hands on one of three lanes, where they clash with enemies and eventually destroy your opponent’s hero. The twist? You have a second hand of cards, which are simply numbers. To play a card, you must use an in-game calculator to add, subtract, and multiply those numbers to match a card’s “casting cost.” It brilliantly subverts Magic: The Gathering’s model for resource management before Hearthstone was a Blizzard design doc. Once you throw in deck building (for both units, and the numbers you use to play those cards, which requires a staggering amount of synergy) and ability management, Calculords is a deep, deep game.
And man, the art style. I’m not a retro-pixel art fetishist, but this truly captures my nostalgia for mid-90’s paraphernalia like Z-Bots.
You can scoop up Calculords on iOS and Android for free, and it has no egregious freemium mechanics.