The Dresden Files Mobile Card Game Is So Hard It's Fun

On Monday, Hidden Achievement released a new mobile card game based off of Jim Butcher’s popular Dresden Files book series, and I have to say, folks, it’s hard as hell.

With card games being a popular genre in mobile gaming and a favorite of mine to review, it usually doesn’t take me long to get a handle on a winning strategy. With Dresden Files, however, my strategic ego was turned on its head as I struggled to win my first round. If you’re looking for a game that will make you want to simultaneously throw your phone out the window, while murmuring “just one more round,” this is one to try.

Dresden Files is a cooperative game to play with friends, but those who don’t have a loyal group of nerds handy have the option to play solo as well.

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- Photo: Player.One

In the game, you take on the role of Harry Dresden and, if you are playing solo, you bring two other characters from the novels with you. Each character comes equipped with a talent (triggered by a specific event), a stunt (a powerful action that can be used once per game) and a starting hand of six cards. You will use these resources to help Harry solve cases and defeat foes. By the end of the game, players need to have solved more cases than there are foes remaining to win.

The game mat consists of two rows, each with six cards in them. These cards are a combination of four cases, four foes, two obstacles and two advantages. The order of these changes every game, so you never know what’s coming at you.

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Taking out bad guys while solving cases is the promary goal in the Drsden Files game. Photo: Player.One

Each character on Harry’s team has a mixture of card types in their hand. Some are for attacking foes, others add clues to case cards, while others allow you to take up advantages or remove obstacles. Each card costs a certain amount of manna or “Fate” points to play. Cards also have a range that restricts which items you can apply the card to. For example, a card with a range of three can act on cards within the first three slots of a row, starting from the left. You begin the game with 13 manna (if you are playing as a beginner), and the only way to gain more is by discarding something in your hand. With so few cards to play, this isn’t something you want to do lightly. Thankfully, to offset the loss, each character’s special talent is activated whenever they discard for fate points.

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Taking out bad guys while solving cases is the promary goal in the Drsden Files game. Photo: Player.One

If it sounds like this game is simple, don’t be fooled. The gameplay requires thinking several steps ahead and is, at times, downright mind-boggling. Besides figuring out how to best use your manna to both eliminate foes and solve cases, you’re also juggling pain-in-the-ass obstacles and advantages as well. Obstacles do nasty things to the game, like making attacks cost an extra fate point, or reducing all neutral dice roles to -1.

Oh, yeah, I haven’t mentioned the dice roll thing yet, have I? While some of your cards are straightforward, costing a specific amount of fate points and yielding a specific result, others come with a required dice toss that can really complicate matters. Imagine how pissed off you’ll be when an unlucky dice toss reduces the attack of a card you need to wipe out a foe. Or worse yet, when you only have three fate points to spend, but the dice roll ups the cost of the card to four which basically equals a discard -- without the talent perk.

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This demon can become the bane of your existence if you don't plan well. Photo: Player.One

Additionally, some of the foe cards are attached to specific cases, so solving or defeating one affects the other. For example, before you can attack the Kalshazack Toad Demon, you have to solve the “Who is the Shadowman?” case first. This case requires 10 clues to solve, which is no small feat. You are constantly analyzing remaining cards, fate points and possible moves. Decision-making is so vital that even one little mistake can throw the whole game. Some games are impossible to win even from the start, based on the hands your characters are dealt and the arrangement of the cards on the mat. It is truly one of the most frustrating gaming experiences I’ve had in a while, but when you do win, the victory feels well-deserved.

Dresden Files is a great blend of strategy and luck that will keep you coming back for more. While the game has three expansion packs available for purchase that add new characters, it was refreshing to see that these expansions didn’t necessarily make winning easier. In many CCG-type games, winning can weigh heavily on the cards in your collection, but Dresden Files requires tons of strategic effort, regardless of the characters you use.

Dresden Files, a cooperative card game, is available now on both iOS and Android devices for $6.99 and can be downloaded from the Apple App or Google Play Store . If you give it a try, be sure to comment and let us know what you thought.


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