Deck ‘Em! Review – Is This Card Game a Heavy Hitter?

Deck Em game screenshot, Happy Announcer
Deck ‘Em! Review – Is This Card Game a Heavy Hitter?

Platforms: iOS, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Deck 'Em!

Publisher: Frosty Pop

Developer: Frosty Pop

Genre: Sports, Strategy

Release Date: March 7th, 2023

Deck ‘Em! by Frosty Pop

Honestly, the idea of boxing and card-battling isn’t the first combination for a game that comes to mind. But Deck ‘Em! melds these two concepts together to create a unique experience.

Deck Em game screenshot, Tutorial

The concept is simple: survive 12 rounds by punching your way to victory. At the start of each round, you’ll get four random cards. Each comes with its own numbered stats.

Champ cards are opposing fighters who do a set amount of damage. Punch cards damage the aforementioned opponents. Block cards block opponents’ attacks. And health cards restore your health.

In order to progress to the next round, you’ll have to clear the board of these four cards.

Keep Those Hands Up

The core mechanic in Deck ‘Em! involves its blocking cards. These are essential to block incoming attacks and mitigate damage. For example, if I have a block card with a 7 at the top left corner, I can block incoming attacks with equal or lesser value. If the attack exceeds that number, my boxer will take all the damage.

Block cards also have a smaller number on the bottom right. This works in the same way as the number on the top left but changes based on the last champ card’s attack damage.

It sounds confusing on paper. But trust me, it’s a simple mechanic that’s pretty fun once you get the hang of it. And since cards are random, every run is somewhat different.

Deck Em game screenshot, Gameplay Gif

That being said, Deck ‘Em!’s simplicity will be a turn-off to some. Besides the cards I mentioned, the game doesn’t have wildly different cards to add variety, which makes it feel repetitive. But its simplicity makes it easy to quickly pick up and play without requiring a whole lot of strategic thinking, so it’s a perfect game for short bursts.

Forget Strategy, Just Punch

I did use some strategy. For instance, I would not block low-number damage in order to keep my block card’s number high. The game also gave you the option to store two cards for the next round.

But since everything is so randomized, strategic play feels less effective. I wasn’t able to effectively utilize tactics consistently. During some play-throughs, I would get stuck with low-numbered block cards, which made the experience more challenging.

Without more varied card types, there are few options to change the game in interesting ways. It feels like one more mechanic could have made the gameplay feel more engaging and rewarding overall – something like a card sacrifice or combination mechanic to improve certain cards. It’s a shame because it has a nice foundation for a great card-battling game.

Deck Em game screenshot, Cheering Announcer

A Heavy Hitter

Deck ‘Em!’s visuals are great and exude cartoon style. Boxers’ portraits are wonderfully detailed.

Sound effects accompany punch cards along with cool visual effects, which mixed with the jazzy music make for a nice vibe that exudes charm. It’s all so wonderfully polished.

Deck ‘Em! is a nice little card game. It’s a mechanically simple experience that’s perfect in short bursts. It lacks the mechanics to create a deep, strategic experience, but its simplicity is perfect for people who are looking for more of a pick-up-and-play experience.

Deck ‘Em! Is available via the Apple App Store and Steam.

Check out the official trailer for Deck ‘Em! Below: