Minecraft will go down in history as one of the most influential video games ever created. With how popular Minecraft has been, there has been a lot of tie-in merchandise capitalizing on the game’s premise. This normally leads to a number of board game adaptations. I have to admit that I was kind of surprised that Minecraft hasn’t had as many board game adaptations as you would typically expect based on its popularity. Outside of themed versions of popular games like UNO there have actually only been two different Minecraft board games. A while back we took a look at Minecraft Builders & Biomes which was quite surprising as it was better than I expected. I hoped the same would hold true for Minecraft Card Game? (I have no idea why there is a ? in the title). Minecraft Card Game? can rely on a lot of luck at times, but it does a surprisingly good job adapting the video game’s gameplay into an accessible card game that fans and non-fans of the franchise can enjoy.
How to Play Minecraft Card Game?
- Shuffle all of the Resource Cards. Deal the cards into five face down piles. When all of the cards are dealt out, flip over each pile.
- Shuffle the Craft Cards. Deal the cards into four equal piles with the Crafting Side face up. There will be one extra Craft Card which will be placed to the side to start the discard pile.
- Each player takes a Reserve Card Holder.
- Choose a player to go first. The game doesn’t give a specific way of choosing who will go first.
Playing the Game
On each player’s turn they will get to perform two actions. Actions that the player can take include:
Players can choose which two actions they would like to take and can perform them in any order. A player can even choose to take the same action twice.
When you choose the mine action you will get to choose one of the Resource Cards that are face up on the table. Once you have chosen a Resource Card you will place it in front of you.
There are a couple special Resource Cards which have a special impact on the game.
Wild cards may be used as any type of resource (not including a Creeper or TNT). If the Wild has a quantity number higher than one, the Wild can only count as one type of resource.
When a player mines a TNT card, they have to play it immediately. The player will take the top card from the other four Resource Card piles. They will choose two of those cards to keep and will discard the other two cards along with the TNT card. When choosing cards you can only keep normal resources or Wilds (TNT and Creepers are not allowed).
Whenever a Creeper card is revealed (the card above it was mined) all of the players must discard one of their collected Resource Cards. The Creeper card is then discarded.
If you choose to craft for one of your actions you will look at the face up Craft Cards in the middle of the table as well as the card that you reserved on a previous turn. Each Craft Card features pictures of a number of resources on it. In order to craft the card you will need to have Resource Cards in front of you that match the symbols shown. A Resource Card is worth a number of the pictured resource equal to the number displayed in the corners. You can play a number of Resource Cards totaling more than you need for a Craft Card, but you will lose the extra resources that you paid.
Once you pay the resource cost for a Craft Card to the discard pile, you will place the card in front of you. Each card you craft will have a point value attached to it which is shown in the corners. The card also features a tool icon which gives you a one time special ability.
The final action you can take on your turn is to reserve a Craft Card. You will take this action when you want a Craft Card, but you don’t currently have the Resource Cards to acquire it. By taking this action you will add the chosen card to your card holder. On a future turn you can then take the Craft action and pay the resources required to craft the card. You may only have one card in your holder at a time so you will need to craft the card from your holder before you are able to reserve another card.
For each Craft Card that a player gathers, they will gain access to a tool. Each of these tools have their own unique power. These powers can be used at any time and using them does not count as an action. Once you have used a tool you will flip over the Craft Card to indicate that the ability has been used. The tools will provide the following abilities to players:
Sword: When a Creeper card is revealed, a player can use their sword to avoid losing a Resource Card.
Shovel: When a player uses this tool they will choose another player who will lose one of their actions on their next turn.
Pick Axe: This tool gives a player another action that they can perform on one of their turns.
Axe: The axe can be used as two wood when crafting an item.
Hoe: The hoe will discard the top card from each of the Resource Card piles.
End of Game
The game immediately ends when one of the players have earned enough points from the Craft Cards that they have acquired. The number of points needed to win depends on the number of players:
- 2 Players: 24 points
- 3 players: 20 points
- 4 players: 16 points
My Thoughts on Minecraft Card Game?
Honestly I am not entirely sure how I would classify the Minecraft Card Game?’s gameplay. The game is at its core a card game, but it has a number of other mechanics mixed in as well. Basically the goal of the game is to acquire enough Craft Cards in order to reach the number of points needed to win the game. You acquire Craft Cards by gathering the Resource Cards pictured on them. There are a number of special cards that add other twists to the gameplay, but that pretty much sums up the gameplay.
If that sounds simple it should as the game is quite accessible. The game has a recommended age of 8+, but I think kids younger could play the game especially if they are familiar with Minecraft. Players may need to reference the rules a couple of times to remind themselves of the special cards, but otherwise the game could easily be taught to players within just a couple of minutes. The length will somewhat depend on how lucky the players get, but most games will probably take around 20-45 minutes to complete.
I wouldn’t consider the game to be filled with a lot of strategy, but there are some decisions to make in the game. Most of the decisions revolve around how much risk you want to take. The Craft Cards basically boil down to low value cards that are easy to complete, and harder cards that require more or rarer cards to complete. On top of this players need to analyze what cards they think the other players will be going after on their next turn. For example the Reserve action doesn’t really get you closer to winning the game, but you may have to use it if you think another player will steal the Craft Card that you have been acquiring cards for. Between choosing which cards to take/pursue and how much risk you decide to take, your decisions will have an impact on what ultimately happens.
That is not to say that the Minecraft Card Game? is a strategy filled game. Instead it feels like your typical card game with a few more mechanics added in to add a little more strategy. In a lot of ways the game is similar to a lot of simple card games. Your decisions on any given turn are usually pretty obvious. Therefore you can play the game without putting a ton of thought into every individual decision. There are some points in the game where the decision you make will have an impact on the outcome though. I could actually see the game working pretty well as a gateway game. It is far from the best game that I have ever played, but I still enjoyed playing it and could see a lot of other people liking it as well.
When I reviewed Minecraft Builders & Biomes I commented on the fact that the Minecraft theme is not one that is a natural fit for board games. The game has so many different mechanics and things that you can do that I thought it would be hard to translate to a board game. I was actually surprised by how well Builders & Biomes adapted the theme to a board game. The same holds true for the Minecraft Card Game? as well even if it might not do quite as good of job. Instead of trying to bring in all of the different elements of the video game, it decides to focus on the resource gathering and crafting aspect of the game. While it is not exactly the same (the blueprints don’t always exactly match the video game), it actually does a surprisingly good job replicating this aspect of the game in a card game format. Honestly I don’t know how much more could have been done to create a card game that simulates Minecraft better.
Outside of the gameplay being influenced by the theme, the overall theming of the game is also well done. While I have never been a big fan of square cards, they work well with the blocky theme of Minecraft. The artwork is authentic to the game which should please fans. The card quality is not bad either. The components aren’t amazing but they do a good job especially considering that the game didn’t retail for that much when it was first released. I honestly don’t think Minecraft fans could have expected much more from a card game inspired by the video game.
This brings me to those that aren’t fans of Minecraft. As a fan of Minecraft myself, I can only guess how a non-fan would feel about the game. Clearly a fan of the video game will get quite a bit more out of the game than someone who only has a general idea of the game. Familiarity with the video game will certainly help, but I don’t know if it is totally necessary to enjoy the game. Those not familiar with the video game may take a little longer to understand the concept. It doesn’t help that two of the resource types look pretty similar for those who aren’t familiar with the game. The game is simple enough and the gameplay is fun enough on its own that I still think you could get some enjoyment out of the Minecraft Card Game? even if you don’t have much interest in the video game.
While I was kind of surprised by the Minecraft Card Game?, it does have its share of issues. The most prevalent is the fact that the game relies on a lot of luck. There is some strategy to the game, but luck might be even more important. Without luck on your side there is no way to win the game. You can choose a strategy to pursue, but your success in accomplishing it will depend on what cards you have available to you. You can analyze the available Resource Cards as well as the Craft Cards to choose which cards to take, but you never know what cards the other players will take and what cards will come up next. You could take a Resource Card or Craft Card and it could then take a couple turns to get the rest of the cards that you need to craft a card. Most of the time the cards that you ultimately choose to craft will fall into your lap. Therefore whoever is the luckiest will likely win the game.
To illustrate this point I want to talk about the TNT cards. Basically whenever you have the opportunity to take a TNT card you should. There is basically no downside to taking one as any possible punishment will be shared with the other players as well. Taking a TNT card basically acts like getting a free turn as you will get to take two Resource Cards instead of one. In some cases taking the TNT card will give you all of the resources that you need to craft a card. If the TNT cards are spread out among the players this isn’t a huge issue, but if one player gets more than the other players they will have essentially gotten more turns than the other players. This will give players a huge advantage in the game.
Luck also comes into play with the other special Resource Card. The Creeper Card can actually be a pretty big nuisance in the game. It somewhat depends on when the cards come out though. Basically everyone loses a Resource Card when one is revealed. This is going to hurt some players more than others. One player may lose an important Resource Card while another loses nothing as they just used up all of their cards to craft. Players can acquire swords which help protect them against this, but if the Creepers come out early in the game there really isn’t anything you can do to protect yourself. To illustrate in one game most of the Creepers were at the top of the stacks so we had multiple Creepers show up early in the game. Because of these Creepers some players’ first couple of turns were basically wasted as they lost all of the cards they acquired to the Creeper. This put them behind the other players.
How much the reliance on luck will impact your enjoyment of the Minecraft Card Game? depends on how you approach the game. If you were hoping for a strategic game where your strategy will be a big determining factor in whether you win or lose, you likely will be disappointed. You have just as good if not a better chance of winning if luck is on your side than if you have a good strategy. At the same time you could have a terrible strategy and still win just because luck was on your side. This will likely frustrate some players where they will have a hard time looking past it. If you are looking for a simple game that you don’t have to put too much thought into though, this won’t be as big of an issue. If you can enjoy the game for what it is without caring that much about who ultimately wins, I think you can look past the reliance on luck.
Should You Buy Minecraft Card Game?
I was honestly kind of surprised by the Minecraft Card Game?. For a simple card game to do a solid job recreating the crafting element of Minecraft was actually kind of surprising. The game is simple to pick up and play as you are mostly acquiring resources that are required by other cards. Your decisions are usually pretty obvious where you don’t have to put too much thought into any decision. The game has some strategy scattered in though to keep things interesting. While fans of Minecraft will obviously get more out of the game than those that aren’t, I still think you can enjoy the game even if your aren’t a fan of the theme. Ultimately the game’s biggest issue is just the fact that it relies heavily on luck. If luck is not on your side, you are going to have a very hard time winning. The game has its faults, but if you are looking for a simple card game that you can just enjoy without putting too much thought into you can have a decent amount of fun with it.
My recommendation comes down to your feelings on the theme and simpler card games in general. If the reliance on luck, simple card games in general, and the Minecraft theme don’t appeal to you; the game is unlikely to be for you. If you are a big Minecraft fan or don’t mind simple card games that rely on quite a bit of luck, you should get at least some enjoyment out of the game and should consider picking it up.