TEPPEN Review: The Card Game Nobody Expected

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No one expected this game. Nobody asked for it, but here it is. Honestly it isn’t too shabby either. Teppen is a card game with a twist from Capcom and GungHo Online Entertainment. This game takes card battling to a different place allowing for wacky game play and more action and speed.

Story

In the Land of Illusion, many powerful beings from different pockets of reality converge to battle. In other words, some weird mind-bending place sucked up your favorite Capcom heroes and pits them against each other. Every one of the eight characters have their own short story with some pretty art, but it really is just a way to familiarize the player with the four classes and individual hero's play styles. It would be a great addition to have the story continue and be a growing lore as more chapters for characters could be added over time.

Gameplay

The point of the game is simple, just like most other card games, summon minions of sorts and play action cards to deplete the health of your opponent. Teppen stands out in a number of ways though. 

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First, let’s talk about the game’s set up. Each hero has 30 health and there are three slots in which players can set minions/creatures. A player's hand size is five with two added slots used in various ways. The game looks and feels more like an active battleground because of the format and the more limited field of play

Second, Teppen uses an active battle system. Every second that passes in the match gives you one MP, your MP is used to summon creatures or characters or use action cards, so use your time/MP wisely. This makes the game a consistent back and forth battle like Clash Royal or Wild Beyond, a balancing act of where and when to attack. Usually a card games a player will choose a minion to attack with one of their own on their respective turns, but there are no turns, so minions will slowly “make their way” to the opponents and either attack the enemy in front of them or the enemy hero if there is no blocking minion. There are also action cards which have a variety of effects: buffing, damaging, shielding, destroying, slowing down or many other things. When one is activated, the other player can choose to activate their own action card as a reaction. This can stack back and forth until one play can’t use an action card, doesn’t want to, or runs of time to react. This active battle system seems crazy and wacky, but watch our gameplay video and the in-game tutorials will help a lot. The active battle also makes attacks from minions 

Third thing to address that sets this game apart is the four classes, the wide variety of class abilities and the mixture of the classes. In all the digital games that I know of, other than Magic the Gathering Arena, a class will have specific cards that stay in that class and deck. Teppen has four classes of cards sorted by colors: red, green, purple and blue (it is a pale dark blue, but I’m going to refer to it as blue for all intensive purposes). There are also no neutral cards that are shared among classes, all cards fall under a specific class, this is another thing separating Teppen from other games. 

The reason why there is no neutral cards, is because each faction or color has very specific battle methods and players can mix them to make interesting and complex combination deck, therefore not really needing neutral cards. Mixing the red faction’s excessive aggression in buffs and direct attacks with green’s shielding and health buffs is just one example of how combinations can become devastating. There is an amazing cost for choosing to mix colors, a player’s total MP is cut down and a player will only be able to play certain cost cards. If you have one color, you can play any cost cards your MP can charge up to ten and you can play high cost cards. If you have two colors, you can only play five cost cards or lower. If you have three colors you can only play cards that cost three or less. This strict rule of limiting mixed decks gives a great challenge and longevity to the game and the limited cards in it now as people play with the various combinations available.

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The last thing to primarily discuss in the gameplay is the solo missions and challenges. These are fairly shallow gameplay wise, but add some fun stories to the chapters with some well made art to enhance the stories. The gameplay never goes further than playing against an A.I. opponents with either more or less health than normal. It would have been nice to see a stronger purpose to play these single player modes or have them be a little more complex or different. However they are free and it is the beginning of the game’s launch, so single player modes are not that important in reality.

Overall, the gameplay is really great. It is a fun new twist on classic card games that fully utilizes the digital format with flashy visuals, time based combat and solid matchmaking. Teppen for sure has a bit of a learning curve for those unfamiliar with card games, but seasoned players could pick it up relatively quickly.

Visuals

Teppen looks awesome. The character models for the heroes is beautiful. Their movement keeps the game feeling very alive, especially when they use their hero powers in game. The card art all looks pretty good, but does suffer from continuity issues as the game mixes Mega Man, Street Fighter and Resident Evil. It just looks odd to have a normal man being attacked by a zombie on one card and a Chun-Li super kick on another with you hero being blue robot kid.

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A lot of the actual gameplay is telegraphed visually, the timers of character’s attacks, your MP gauge and other things are key to gameplay, and will sometimes be lost in the clutter of the stage, card affects and other things. If the player is paying close attention, then won’t be much of an issue, but it can be cumbersome sometimes.

Audio

From authentic Mega Man sounds and Street Fighter yells, the game sounds just like you would expect and want. The music is fairly normal and the sound design for matches is all very good. Often the game will use very strong visual and audio cues to let a player know when something (especially time sensitive) will happen. This is great because of the game’s inherent faster paced gameplay.

Replayability

I’ve been playing the game since it came out and a game like this would take months of meta discussion, player base analysis and many more hours of gameplay to really be able to discuss if this game has a long life ahead of it. As for actual gameplay, the game is a lot of fun, it feels exciting every match to hop in and try out your deck versus other people in this moment to moment action. Depending on the Capcom’s upkeep with balances, new expansions and events, the game could last a long time, it has the potential to be a new widespread card game, especially because of the very different approach to the basics of card battles. But for the actual match to match and day to day play, yes this game will keep a player busy for awhile.

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What Could Be Better

There isn’t too much to complain about here. I have complaints about the Menu system being a little confusing or bland. I think the single player could have a little more variety in enemy decks or added challenges. The game could use a slightly better deck building system, the physical layout and movement to make decks is tedious. But overall, not much to complain about because this is still the beginning and somewhat a bare bones experience.

Verdict

I did not think that Teppen was going to merit anything at all. I really expected a re-skin of Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering Arena with Capcom characters, but I was wrong. This game has a lot to offer, a lot of fresh ideas and deep mechanics. I think this game could do a lot more in the future and the life of this game will ultimately come down to the updates, expansions and connection between the community and developer. Try this game out, Teppen is very different and worth the time to give it a spin, it may be your new best friend.

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