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Calculords is a collectible card game-type turn based strategy for the iPhone, published by "Ninja Crime" software, and designed by Seanbaby. It was released in early 2014, and while currently only single player on the iPhone, has planned multiplayer and Android versions sometime in the future. The game is free to download, but does have downloadable content for a small price.

I had actually heard of Calculords some years ago, in one of Seanbaby's humor columns. Seanbaby being Seanbaby, and having a history of making jokes about educational games, I assumed that the game was a joke. But in October of 2013, it was announced to be a real thing, and a few months later it was released. The game combines the strategy of a collectible card game with a math puzzle game. Seanbaby has said that the problem with most collectible card games is that deployment of cards isn't dependent on skill, but rather on a logistic slog. Calculords, on the other hand, lets players summon cards through solving mathematical puzzles. The player is given a set of cards, and a set of numbers. Each card has a cost expressed as a number from 2 to 150. To get that number, they have to add, subtract and multiply (no division) their numbers together. The weakest cards usually have small and round numbers, while more powerful cards have large and prime numbers. A card with a summon cost of 20, for example, is a fairly straightforward procedure of 5*4. A card with a cost of 95 might involve something like (((7*2)+5)*5). Beyond this mathematical puzzle, there is a strategic challenge: certain cards have certain abilities, which work in certain situations and positions. The player can edit their deck to have the best cards.

Apart from the mechanics, Seanbaby also designed the art and wrote the dialog. The art is based on the classic NES games that Seanbaby has spent his career mocking and celebrating, with a look that reminds me more of River City Ransom than anything. Although the game is a serious challenge, Seanbaby has injected much humor into parts of it. As you play against the computer opponents, they taunt you with sayings reminiscent of B-Movie and comic book science fiction cliches. There is a grizzled space marine, a fungal alien, the bizzaro-speaking Hate Bit, and Cosblast, an amalgam of every geek who ever thought being mean was being clever (and perhaps a bit of self-parody on the part of Seanbaby). The only complaint right now is that there are only seven stages, so replay value comes from beating them in different ways, rather than facing different opponents. However, if the game adds multiplayer this will probably be irrelevant. The game also has a steep learning curve and the display can get crowded, but these are minor problems. I don't play many iPhone games, but I played this one and liked it. Highly recommended.

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