Card games never really go out of style. They are a versatile, ever evolving form of entertainment for children and adults alike. If you are one of those people who enjoy a satisfying card game or two during your coffee break, then Bird Pax may be right up your alley.
Brought to us by the people at KnowIn Games, Bird Pax gives a unique spin to ranking card games of old. In this variation, you are given a deck of bird themed cards, each with a corresponding wingspan value. You will keep a set number of six cards, automatically drawn from your face down virtual deck. Trump your opponent’s throw by throwing cards with greater wingspan and you gain back your cards and their cards which are in play. The person who gains almost all of the cards wins the match.
Bird Brained Challenge
Sound easy enough? Well, what makes this virtual card game different from your average trump card games is the existence of a “Pax” ability. This means that if both you and your opponent places birds from the same family, a higher stakes round will take place wherein you each bet three cards above your initial throws. You then proceed trying to outrank each other normally unless another Pax is initiated. After the chain of Pax duels, whoever wins the round gains all the cards on the board.
The Pax is a simple concept, yet it does lend an element of unpredictability. Kudos to the creators for this because unlike other AI biased card games, there are no impossible matches in Bird Pax. You should relatively breeze through the game for the most part but if ever you find yourself in a pinch, using your strong Pax compatible cards in the nick of time will easily turn the tides of the match to your favor.
Mixing Up the Nest
Another cool feature in Bird Pax is the “Bringalong” which allows you to make combos. This means that cards that feature birds of the same feather (that is not a pun) can be used together to outrank the hand of your opponent. For example, you have two birds from the Kingfisher family, the Short-legged Ground-roller with a wingspan of 75 cm and the Blue-crowned Motmot with a wingspan of 80 cm. You initially place down, the former, giving you a wingspan of 75 cm. Your opponent then places the Anhinga card from the Pelican family with a wingspan of 117 cm, you will be given the option to assist your initial throw by using your second Kingfisher family card or to simply skip the round, giving up your Short-legged Ground-roller. Chain combos can last for as long as you or your opponent has existing Bringalong cards and none of you mistakenly throws a lesser valued hand.
The game goes on as long as either side has a chance of winning. Technically, there is a certain wingspan requirement to meet for each level which increases as you progress the game but there is no way to actually view the actual goal number. To compensate for this, the game does offer two simple ways to keep track of your current standing. First, the total wingspan for both decks are displayed very clearly and second, the background color rises or falls depending on who is leading. Again, this brings us back to why the game is considered super user-friendly for younger players.
The Bird’s Eye View
As a whole, the user interface does not disappoint and the game play is facilitated by thoughtfully placed visual cues. These include a crown icon for higher valued cards, a Pax indicator for compatible hands and a label for Bringalong sets. This makes the game user friendly for younger players and those who do not care to spend their time comparing numbers. It also effectively saves time for people who want to squeeze a quick card game in between breaks. The bird cards themselves are well illustrated and being visually accurate, may be interesting to existing bird watchers or younger players who want to learn how to identify avians.
Although Bird Pax is a clever little card game, it is not perfect. For the nitpicky, there are a few small quirks to consider. The music, for one, is the same for all 18 levels of the game. Though it was peppy enough during the first few rounds, the drone of the same tropical tune was boring at best once you reach the final stages. A few variants to choose from would have been a godsend. Speaking of choices, there is also no way to change how the card decks look –a shame, considering that it would have added a little something special to the visuals.
So it has a good strategy system, bright visuals to back it up and a user-friendly interface which makes it perfect for kids and kids at heart. Now where are the factoids? Trivia tidbits about the birds featured in the deck could have given younger players something to learn from. Having entertainment is one thing, but why not throw in some brain food too right?
Lastly, there is a lack of online multiplayer for this first installment of the Pax series. Treat it as a taste test. After all, the replay value of strategy card games rely on the longevity of its challenges. And really, what could be more satisfying than to beat your cousin’s bird of prey with your slew of miniscule tweeters?
To wrap up, Bird Pax features clever bite-sized game play that is a must-play for anyone who has ever loved card games. It has nice visuals that add some pizzazz to the package and is user-friendly, making it an ideal choice for young, casual players as well. The game can be beaten in just under a couple of hours and is pretty straightforward –appealing if you want a relaxing game. Though there are a few nuts and bolts that can be tweaked to make it perfect, whatever is already implemented is enough to satisfy your card battle cravings.
Considering the education value of the game, and the way it gets players to polish up on their reflexes and logic skills, one could say that this is a cleverly disguised educational tool. At the same time, the gameplay features themselves provide players with a satisfyingly fun game to play. Despite the limitations of the computer AI, successfully winning a match is a great way to top off an afternoon of gaming. For a simple card game, Bird Pax has managed to surpass expectations on various levels. We give this game a missing dodo’s 91/100.