is a collectible card game with some interesting and unique gameplay mechanics that fit the Skylander mold pretty well.
Your gameboard consists of three characters, and your goal is to defeat all three of your opponent's characters before they take down all of yours. Naturally, this means that each character has both hit points and damage points, and of course, no CCG would be complete without a variety of ways to manipulate these values to make each character's hit more or less effective.
These non-character cards come in three categories: Spells, Gear, and Relics. Gear can be assigned to a character, Relics are assigned to a side of the gameboard, and Spells are one-off actions with immediate effects (most of the time direct damage to an enemy or enemies). While this is a simplification of their purposes, what the different cards do can add a lot of strategy to the game. For instance, a Gear could just up the health or attack values of one of your characters, or you can assign it to an opponent. Why would you do that? Well, it might be something that will always cause that enemy to come to the front of the line, even if they try to go to the back for some healing, or even if the Gear does give stat boosts, because a character can have only one Gear at a time, you can use that to replace a more powerful Gear.
Relic cards act in a similar manner, but instead of applying to a specific character, they have a much broader effect that can do anything from stat boosting your characters, adversely affecting your enemies, or even giving everyone effects equally. These items also have a set amount of health and can be attacked by opponents, which is one of the few ways to get them off the board.
As stated above, Spell cards are one-time, immediate uses that can add extra health to your characters or deal out damage to your enemies. They can even do more subtle maneuvers like causing a sideline enemy to move to the forefront, or cause one of your characters to take the lead and deal out damage. This is also where you will find cards that will let you draw or choose some from your deck or apply certain status effects to an enemy like making sure they can't move to the background or that they can't use their special abilities. Like I said, the Spell cards seem to have the widest variety of effects and you will find yourself filling your deck with these more than the other types.
Of course, you can't just play a card; there has to be a cost, and that cost is in the form of energy crystals. At the start of your turn, all of your crystals are filled, and you can play Gear, Relic or Spell cards until you've emptied your reserves (or are left with cards that cost more than you have left). At the end of each round, you will get a chance to have more crystals added to your bank, and the randomness between zero, one or two seems to feel right where you have a higher chance of getting one new crystal over the other choices, and the chance to get zero or two crystals seems to be about equal.
For the most part, this seems like fairly standard CCG game right? There might be a few places where it deviates from other well-known games, but not too many right? Well, there are a few aspects that make the game have a solid Skylanders feel to it. For one, the more you use a character in a match, the more powerful they become as they "level up." For each card a frontline character uses and each attack they deal, they get a point. Every three points, your character levels up (with a max level of 3), and you get a bit more access to that character's particular specialties. When you reach Level 2, the character's special attack is made available. This includes things like Hex dropping enemy max hitpoints by 10, or Crusher getting an extra 10 points to his damage or Spyro doling out 10 points of damage to each of the enemies or Trigger Happy adding extra power to allies with Gear. Of course, these abilities cost energy, so you will have to use those abilities wisely. When the characters get to Level 3, they get a massive boost to their power, so they will be able to hit with an even greater force when they attack.
Skylanders: Battlecast isn't a complex CCG, but it does have enough elements to make it stand apart from the wide variety of similar card games. But, Battlecast isn't just a CCG, it's a freemium mobile game, so it has all the elements that come with that too, both good and bad.
The primary currency in Battlecast is coins. You use that for in-app purchases for booster packs (8-card packs), battle packs (22-card packs) and even specific "featured" cards which change on a daily basis. These coins can also be used once a day for Spins that can get you anything from a single card, to a booster pack, or even shiny variants of cards. While these coins are earned by playing the levels in the game's Single Player Campaign, you can, of course, use real money to buy even more coins.
The good news is, Battlecast doesn't seem to push you as much as other games into buying more coins. In addition to the daily spin that you can pay for, you actually get a free spin every day, and after five consecutive spins, you get a "Super Spin" with bigger rewards. You also get access to a free pack of cards each day you log in, so unless you are really jonesing to buy cards in the hopes of completing the collection, there isn't a driving need to buy more coins.
Of course, this wouldn't be Skylanders without a toy-to-life component, and this is where Battlecast really steps up the game on the "premium" side of things. In stores, you can pick up physical booster and battle packs that you then scan into your app to add to your collection. So now, you not only have the in-game purchases, but also the tangible cards that you can collect and ... well... just collect, at least until someone finds a way to play a game with these cards since the game played digitally really takes advantage of the fact that the computer is keeping track of all of the modifiers and conditions being thrown around.