Cartoon Network and Cryptozoic Kick ‘Card Wars’ up a Notch

card wars doubles screen

If you missed the recent premiere of the Adventure Time episode “Daddy-Daughter Card Wars,” fear not. That ep., as well as season four’s introduction to this game of Cool Guy versus Dweeb, is now available on the new DVD collection, unsurprisingly dubbed Adventure Time: Card Wars.

Available for an MSRP of $18.94 (currently $9.99 via Amazon), Card Wars contains 16 episodes that, just like the titular show and its recent Jake and Charlie-focused follow-up, focus on the weird and wonderful interpersonal relationships of the inhabitants of Ooo. These include the illuminating third season standout “What was Missing,” the mystery of “The Diary” (which focuses on Charlie’s brother T.V.), the dimension-hopping “Crossover,” and even season six’s “Everything’s Jake”—which I guess really focuses more on Jake’s relationship with himself.

card wars dvd cover

Still, it’s a solid if occasionally disjointed collection from across the show’s history. Sure, seeing Finn struggle with feelings for yet another unattainable crush (“Flute Spell”) and further plumbing the complex and often saddening relationship between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum (“Varmints”) are fairly weighty affairs for adult watchers, but your kids will simply enjoy the madcap adventuring of our heroes throughout the show’s surreal landscapes and its equally odd setups.

As the title implies, though, Card Wars (both as a game and as a plot device) is truly what it’s all about. The DVD case contains both a real-world Card Wars Card—the Rainbow Creature Cyclops whose special skill, his DEF value gains +1 for each open eye on other Creatures you control, makes for a great addition to any deck. Also, in addition to promoting existing products like the Card Wars and Card Wars Kingdom mobile games, the single-page pack-in boasts information about the upcoming card wars Doubles Tournament Collector’s Set from Cryptozoic Games.

card wars doubles box

As longtime readers likely recall, my kids and I have been playing the physical Card Wars game since its earliest iterations, and, thanks to the team at Cryptozoic and our own tabletop maven GeekDad Jonathan, we already have this exciting new variation in our hot little hands. So what makes the new Doubles Tournament so different?

Just like in the episode “Daddy-Daughter Card Wars,” the Card Wars Doubles Tournament edition pits two teams of two against each other. You even play as the same characters featured in said ep.—Jake and his daughter Charlie are “Team Dignified,” while their opponents Grand Prix and Moniker form “After School Program.”

Rather than facing your competition, you actually sit opposite your teammate in Card Wars Doubles Tournament. Your oversized Hero Card is positioned directly in front of you, but your four Landscapes are split into two lanes of two, positioned cattycorner so that each player has two Landscapes lanes adjacent to either opponent. There’s also an additional space reserved (directly above your Hero Card) for the new Teamwork cards.

Just as the first player in a standard match can’t Floop (activate) a card or initiate a Fight on his first turn, the first three players in the Doubles Tournament are barred from these actions. However, once the fourth player takes her turn it is off to the races, with the turn sequence remaining unchanged:

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  • Ready cards
  • Draw
  • Spend Actions
  • Floop
  • Burn any remaining Actions by drawing additional cards
  • Fight

This game still relies mostly on the same card types. Creature Cards are placed on their corresponding Landscapes (with the exception of the Rainbow Creatures) and generally used to attack those in the adjacent lane or, if said lane is vacant, your opponent himself; Building Cards are placed on Landscapes to add helpful buffs or abilities; and Spell Cards are similarly used to benefit your Lands and Creatures or disadvantage your opponents. It’s the aforementioned Teamwork Cards–easily identifiable by their landscape print orientation—that add a new dimension to the Doubles Tournament.

Think of Teamwork Cards as shared spells with long-term beneficial effects for both you and your teammate. Best of all, each teammate can place her own Teamwork Card, and each stays in effect until replaced by another card—at which point your previous Teamwork Card is moved to your discard pile.

But don’t think that’s all that the Card Wars Doubles Tournament edition offers up to veteran players. In addition to its four full decks, it also come complete with a bevvy of rugged cardboard damage counters, Frozen tokens for those who prefer to employ this specialty technique of IcyLands decks (it freezes an opponent’s Landscape, thus preventing her from playing additional Creatures or Buildings on said Landscape until it is thawed by discarding a card), as well as a full-size rulebook, complete with a card breakdown for all four included decks.

The box itself is also spacious enough to hold additional decks. While there are slots for 14, the kids and I found that we could only really get eight in there comfortably and still have room for the relevant Hero Cards and Landscapes. That said, it definitely beats the minimalist packaging of the previous two-player Collector’s Packs, and it does offer additional storage for any extra cards you may have hanging around after doing some deck customization.

In my house, we love Adventure Time—the Card Wars episodes specifically. We also continue to enjoy the Card Wars tabletop products. Suffice it to say that the new Card Wars DVD collection and the Card Wars Doubles Tournament are no exceptions. Unfortunately, the latter won’t be available for purchase until next month. But look at it this way: that gives you plenty of time to brush up on your playing before you take your game to the next level.

Review materials provided by: Cartoon Network, Cryptozoic Entertainment

Z. is a proud father of two, Managing Editor of the GeekDad blog, a multiple Parsec award-winning podcaster, and a lover of nerd music and culture. At this moment, he is likely thinking about clothes or playing video games. Possibly both.