Eye of Judgment may end up sucking up a lot of space at your house once you get it, but it sure does solve a whole lot of the problems with Online Trading Card Games.
The problem it solves, at least for me, is finding someone who can play a trading card game with me when I want to, where I want to without sacrificing the satisfaction of holding honest to god cards in your hands.
That sounds like a minor point, the fact that you get real cards, but it isn't. For people like me, for a lot of people I bet, the joy of card games are the cards. Once you get rid of those and replace them with digital images and online stats you might as well be playing an elaborate game of bullshit. And don't tell me that you can't cheat in online trading card games, that doesn't matter, because you can't fondle your cards either.
I need to hold the cards in my hand when I play. Tap them on the desk as I think over strategy. Eye of Judgment gives you all of that. It also gives you fancy graphics, making you feel like you're not playing a game but, perhaps, really summoning up monsters and making them fight for your pleasure.
On top of that the game's basic rules is simple in a cunning, chess sorta way. OK, chess is really overstating it, but I think checkers would be underselling the way the game works.
Both you and your opponent play on the same single three-by-three board. To win the game you need to capture five of the nine squares, by laying out your creatures on them and keeping them alive. Creatures attack automatically when you first put them down. The amount of damage they inflict and where they inflict it is described on the cards. So some creatures might, for instance, do damage only to the space directly in front of them. Others might damage the space in front, to the right and to the left. Other could do damage only to a space two away from them or even anywhere.
Because of this, the direction you face a card when you lay it down is very important. It's also important to keep an eye on the land type of both the space and your card. There are five types of spaces and if you lay your card on their matching space, like wood, earth or fire, they get a bonus. Laying on other types of spaces might just do nothing or even kill your card. Each space also has a second land type on the other side which comes into play with special cards that flip the space. So if you summon a fire creature onto a fire space which happens to be water on the other side and your opponent plays the space flipping card, your creature dies immediately.
As with most card games, you cast spells and summon creatures by using your mana. Once you summon a creature your turn is over and that creature automatically attacks their opponent if there is one in range. You can also use a mana point to have creatures already summoned perform an attack that turn.
That's pretty much it.
In the match I played, which was being played online with someone else on another PS3 at TGS, capturing four spaces (which is called Check), wasn't that hard, but landing that fifth space was quite hard. The game ended up lasting a full hour and though early on it looked like I was about to pull off a pretty surprising victory, I ended up losing. I knew I was going to lose about two moves before it happened and, barring a lucky draw, also knew there wasn't anything I could do about it.
The cool thing is that the knowledge of my imminent defeat didn't frustrate me. It was sort of like spotting something on a chessboard that you know will inevitably lead to checkmate in a game and not being able to stop it. It leaves you, typically, with the feeling of a game well played.