Released last week on iOS and Android, Battlejack is a mobile collectable character RPG that uses traditional card game Blackjack to resolve its battles. It's a very cool combo.
In Battlejack, players create, upgrade and evolve a team of collectable fantasy creatures to pit against other fantasy creatures in fast-paced card battles. Instead of normal card suits, Battlejack's deck features four different elements: Fire, water, earth and light/dark. Playing cards of those elements charges up the attack of creatures with matching elemental affinity. Players draw cards, attempting to get the closest to 21 without going over. Then they hit the attack button, and it's damage dealing time.
The battle system is really simple. Characters and creatures have various skills that can be charged during missions to help heal their team or hurt their foes, and players can bring an assortment of potions into battle in case things go south, but the main focus is the Blackjack mechanic. It's fun, but I'm not sure if it has legs.
Beyond basic story battles, special event battles, and arena battles against teams built by other players, Battlejack has the whole collectable character management aspect going on. Each creature can be levelled up. Their skills can be upgraded. Runes can be applied, further enhancing creature abilities. They can even be evolved into new, more powerful forms.
As with other games of the collectable character variety, there are plenty of ways to spend real money on more powerful cards and levelling materials. There's an energy mechanic -- three energy mechanics, really, one for each type of battle (arena, story and special events).
It also features my new least favourite free-to-play mobile game mechanic: Having to wait to unlock reward chests. Rather than just give the player items for completing characters and other milestones, a chest is placed in a queue and the player must start the unlock timer manually (or pay to open them with in-game currency).
At the heart of Grand Clu's Battlejack is a nifty combination of traditional card game and collectable RPG. I don't know if it will have staying power and the microtransactions are obnoxious, but it's interesting enough to recommend trying it out before calling it a bust. It's available now on iOS and Android.