Kardboard Kings Review: Play Your Cards Right

Not the typical card-based title for Steam, Kardboard Kings is about managing and selling stock for a profit, making friends and hoarding the best Warlock cards.

There’s potential for this Kardboard Kings review to get derailed early on based on my interests: I don’t do cards. Whether that be Chinpokemon or Poker, the card collecting game isn’t for me. That said, if you’re of a particular vintage, I used to collect Garbage Pail Kids (one of the motivations for naming this site Vulgar, by the way).

Why the disclaimer? Because I love this game. How does this relate to you? Well, if you’re also a card-collecting noob, I can reveal that you don’t need any card expertise (or interest) to appreciate this game from Henry’s House and Akupara Games. What you will need is the time as Kardboard Kings is addictive.

George Hsu is dead, Harry Hsu lives. The former was a well-reputed (fictional) shop owner who promoted the immensely popular card game Warlock. Harry is his son, whom you play, and you inherit the shop and look to continue its success, perhaps grow it further through your inventory, standing within the community, and whether you can make it a hip place to hang out in.

Kardboard Kings Review - Zorro
Zorro? Is that you? Source: Screen capture

Kardboard Kings is a management game with a light-hearted vibe, where everybody knows your naaaa-me. The goal is to keep an ongoing stock supply, buying in cheap and selling for a profit. Cards are predominantly bought in via the computer on your shop counter, but as you build rapport with the customers, they’ll offer you cards to buy, or perhaps trade.

Gameplay mechanics are introduced steadily by the co-owner Giuseppe, a talking bird. Don’t overthink it. They’ll explain the fundamentals of making a profit, dealing with requests and organising events. With a phone mounted on the wall, customers will call in to request a card. You can then source it online from your existing stock or a customer. 

Though you can’t manually set the prices, you can add ‘tags’ that can up the cost, but at the sacrifice of your reputation and vice versa. Tags are dragged and dropped onto the items on display stands, as are the actual cards: drag them from your inventory. 

But how are cards valued? This threw me as there’s a lot to take in, but in reality, it’s very intuitive. Kardboard Kings depicts the character in question, their power level in Roman numerals, the set they belong to and type. It’s not always about profit as you have to collect ’em all and put them in a binder for customers to view. Note that once they’re in the folder, they can’t be removed. It’s illegal.

Kardboard Kings Review - Shiny
Shiny. Source: Screen capture

While that should be enough to keep you going, news notifications give tips on trends. Buy in say, all the blue cards you can afford, hold them in your inventory, then put them on display for a tidy profit in two days. But you have to keep an eye on trends in case they are devalued.

There’s also a calendar for monitoring trends, new releases, goods delivered, and special events. In addition to trends, Boost parties can earn you new cards, pending you have the money or reputation to invest, plus there are visits from a chap named Declan who’ll set weekly tasks to unlock decorations for the store. 

Aside from the core gameplay, interacting with the characters is great. They quickly become your regulars giving excerpts from their life, asking for a card to be deciphered or valued. As you grow your relationship, there’s a chance they’ll give you a legendary card. These are a key item in the game relating to an underlying story that connects your old man’s past relationship with the creator of the Warlock cards. The plot thickens.

I have to say that this is such an enjoyable game. It can be repetitive but in a good way. Kardboard Kings is somewhat chill, though you can’t interrupt time and have to ensure you juggle your supplies and bank balance. It’s nothing like Overcooked, but it can get hairy later on. I could have saved you the time reading as the second paragraph nailed it: I loved it and suggest you check out some more coverage from other avenues to make your choice. Kardboard Kings gets my thumbs up.