Game Reviews


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| Calculords
| Calculords

'I am the Calculord!' I shout to no one in particular as my tank ploughs into the far end of its lane, spraying hot bolts of death into my opponent's base.

Maths has won me the day, glorious numbers added, subtracted, and multiplied into soldiers, mutants, and space bikes.

Calculords is a mathematical puzzler and a lane-based strategy title all rolled up in gorgeous retro presentation, dripping with sci-fi humour, and bundled in with a deck-building card game that's surprisingly deep.

It can be a little complex to begin with, as you try and tie together the slightly disparate threads of ideas that weave through the game. But once it clicks, and you start to really get to grips with the strange nuances that underlie proceedings, you'll find a game full of intriguing possibilities and potential.

Weight of numbers

At its heart this is a turn-based strategy game. You control one side of three lanes, your opponent controls the other. You're trying to smash up your foe's base by sending troops down the lanes, and your opponent's trying to do the same.

You have a number of hit points, which get eaten into if an enemy unit gets to your side of the lanes and attacks. The first side to lose all of its hit points loses.

The units at your disposal take the form of cards in a deck. These are dealt out to you at random, a few each turn. How you deploy them is the game's big twist.

Rather than using energy or resources to deploy your troops, you have to use equations. Along with your cards you're given a set of numbers at the start of each turn. You need to use these to create the cost of the cards.

So you might have a tank that costs '62'. And in your set of numbers you've got a '9', a '7', and a '1'. Multiply the '9' by the '7', take away the '1', and you've got yourself a tank.

Killed with calculus

It's not quite that simple though. If you can use all the numbers in the first set you're given, you'll get a bonus and another set of numbers. Use all of those and you'll get an even bigger boost.

It's pretty easy working out how to chuck some cards out, but making sure you're getting the most out of your units, and your numbers, takes some patience.

There are different units to consider too. Each has an AP and a HP value. AP are attack points, and show how much damage one of your soldiers or monsters can deliver in a turn. HP are hit points, and show how much damage they can take before they turn into lumps of meat. Literally.

As well as different strengths, units can perform different tasks. Some speed down the lanes, others stomp down pushing enemy units back and edging you closer to the enemy base. Some deal huge amounts of damage, some soak it up.

Getting to know your hand, and adding to it when you can, is a must. Knowing when to play the cards that buff a lane and when to hold them back, and knowing which order to add troops to the screen, can be the difference between victory and a depressing defeated remainder.

Plus or minus

Calculords is a fresh and exciting mix of concepts that gels together really well. It makes you think, both tactically and mathematically, and it'll tug at the retro heartstrings that gamers of a certain age always leave dangling.

It's tough in places, and takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth sticking with, because there's a unique experience here waiting to be had.


Calculords is a fresh and interesting mix of ideas that all come together to create an exciting strategy game that's not quite like anything you've played before