Recently released by developer Kaio Meris on Steam, Quantum Protocol is a single-player deck builder based around a group of hackers trying to protect the world from dangerous malware. With five playable characters, excellent artwork, and a fantastic soundtrack, it’s a unique take on the deckbuilding genre that really only works as a digital title.
Quantum Protocol eases you in to play with a bunch of tutorial levels that introduce you to the cast of characters and gradually teach you the mechanics of the game. Each character has an introductory deck that plays uniquely, and once the game opens up, you’ll be able to choose whichever character you’d like when you take on a mission. Some examples would be a character whose deck revolves around getting more cards into your hand and on the field, a character who takes advantage of the Execute function to power her cards., and another who is more attack focused with manually triggered cards.
That game is played on a 4×5 grid with 2 lanes for enemy cards and 2 lanes for player cards. Card played can have a variety of different effects that trigger in different ways. Some are triggered as soon as they’re put down. Some trigger manually when clicked on. Others can only be triggered via an Execute action, which triggers all cards placed in a lane and discards them. Enemy cards each have a countdown of turns before they act and either damage you or cards in their way. The Reprogram card can be played to refresh your deck and mix in new dropped cards from defeated enemies as well as upgrade cards when three of the same kind are merged.
Once you get the hang of the basics, matches can be pretty fast. There’s no waiting for your turn. You just take your actions, and the opponent’s cards will act when their countdown reaches zero. This allows you to take your time with your planning and then unleash a flurry of combos to quickly and efficiently wipe out groups of the enemy’s cards, in theory. You could suck at the game as I do. Still, I’ve really taken to Quantum Protocol, and it’s combination of visual novel elements and clever deck-building mechanics. Thankfully the gameplay elements outweigh the visual novel aspects by a good amount, so you’re never waiting too long for your next match.
For $12.99, you can’t beat the price for such a great game. It evolves the genre so that no tabletop game could without adding so much extra that it loses the feeling of being a card game. The game designer cites his years playing Yu-Gi-Oh competitively. His love of intricate card combos is used to break down an opponent’s defenses as his inspiration for Quantum Protocol. Having years of various CCG and card game experience myself, I can say that the game is incredibly satisfying, especially when you pull off a clever play.
For my tabletop readers out there, I urge you to give Quantum Protocol a shot. There’s a lot of great content in here to hook you and keep you coming back for more. For my digital readers, there’s so much here for you as well. The game’s initial look is what drew me in, but the depth and complexity of what lay underneath have kept me coming back for more.
A copy of Quantum Protocol was provided free for review by Kaio Meris
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.