Look at that. There I am, in second place overall in Aeria Mobile's Pirate Maidens, one of those newfangled mobile collectible card games I've been having so much trouble dealing with lately. After a week spent dominating the female anime pirate collecting game I can safely say that I understand the genre intimately. I just don't have enough spare cash to enjoy it.
You see, my dominance here is an artificial construct, fuelled by a one-time gift of in-game currency and special items from the development team.
The game's story mode is a series of cutscenes followed by the repeated press of a button, spending stamina in exchange for experience points and progression. When I ran low on stamina, I had a selection of stamina potions to keep me going. When I bested rare pirates in battle, I had special statues that guaranteed their joining my party — persuading them without these statues is near impossible.
When I fought other players, an act that nearly completely drained my attack points, at which point I would normally have to wait for them to replenish, my potions allowed me to keep going, burning through opponents and up the leaderboards. When they did defeat me, I had a collection of booby traps set on my valuable bottle collection, ensuring no one swiped a sample before I could complete the set and earn another rare pirate card.
Within four days of receiving what amounts to at least $US50 of in-game items I was nearly on top of the game. I was also out of everything but a couple of booby traps and the odd statue.
I can see the appeal of a game like this, where your successes are highly visible to the community. It's a wonderful feeling, logging in and seeing I am ranked second or third in my nation. It's intoxicating. It just also happens to be incredibly expensive.
With three separate storylines, the promise of new chapters and side stories and the upcoming addition of music and sound effects (the game currently has none outside of Japanese voice clips for each pirate card), Pirate Maidens should keep fans of the genre occupied for quite a while. I just don't have the cash needed to compete, so I'm out.