Dead Man’s Draw by Stardock – Finally, a card game that isn’t poker

image I’ve been a long time fan of Stardock, more specifically for their addons to Windows such as Windowblinds, CursorFX and ObjectDock. But apart from customizing Windows, Stardock has a long history of making games – Galactic Civilization, Sins of a Solar Empire and Fallen Enchantress. But the mobile space hasn’t been their focus, until now.

Stardock kicks off their mobile catalog with an interesting game called, Dead Man’s Draw. Now, despite what it may sound like, this isn’t a poker game. And that’s not a bad thing. The App Store is clogged with hundreds of variations of Texas Hold Em and Celebrity Poker. And while some of them aren’t too bad, enough is enough. Texas Hold Em has been done to DEATH! Whatever happened to Draw Poker?

Anyway, Dead Man’s Draw is insanely simply. At least to start. The object is to draw as many cards as you like. Your score is based on the total mount of the cards showing, so a 3, 5, and 7 would equal 15. Easy enough. There are no runs or flushes or straights. You’re just counting, sort of like BlackJack. The problem is, you can’t have two cards of the same suit. Since this isn’t a standard deck, there are 7 suits in the pack. Regardless of the number on the card, if they have the same suit, you’re busted and don’t score any points. The game continues until all the cards in the deck are drawn. Highest score wins. There are 50 cards in the deck.

But once you win a round, you’ll discover the cards begin to take on some magical properties. For example, the Canon can remove a card from your opponents deck. The Oracle let’s you see the next card before you draw it. The Sword allows you to steal a card from you opponent and use it in your own hand. Plus, as the game progresses, cards in a hand can be combined for a bigger bonus, such as a chest and a key.

So it starts off simple, but then you have to think about how you want to play these special ability cards. Should you steal that opponent card then draw another or quit while you’re ahead? How many cards do you think you can grab without busting out?

It’s a very straightforward game, but it’s something refreshingly different. As I said, finally a card game that isn’t just another mindless variation of Texas Hold Em. Plus, the game goes quickly. There’s no betting or bluffing. You draw cards until the deck is gone and total the points. It’s easy to invest a few minutes or sit down and trying build up a chest full of gold.

It’s quite a satisfying game and it’s quite a bit of fun just to see how far you can push your luck. The special ability cards make for some interesting strategy. You can steal and Oracle and what lies in the pile next or rummage through the discard pile to see which card you can use to improve your score. The graphics are nice and the music is simple and won’t annoy you. I have to say for their first outing into the realm of the mobile devices and the iPad, this is a pretty sweet little game. I quite enjoy it. The only thing I don’t like is that they employed the in-app purchase idea. I just don’t like that as a matter of principle, not that it affects the game in any way.

Well done Stardock! I can’t wait to see what you have next and what add-ons this game might yield.

Dead Man’s Draw on iTunes

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4 Responses to Dead Man’s Draw by Stardock – Finally, a card game that isn’t poker

  • Don Pedro says:

    I’ve logged quite a few hours with Dead Man’s Draw and the game is quite brilliant. At first, it seems a very simple game of whether or not to pick the next card. And at first that is the sum of it. But even that is a little deceiving. For example, you have to draw a card higher than the one you already have in your hand for it to count. If you already have a key with a value of 6 and you draw one with a value of 5, it doesn’t count toward the total. As you get to the end of the deck, less and less cards count toward your overall total so you really need to think about which card to pick up, use and discard.

    Also, as you advance things gets more interesting as the cards themselves have special abilities. For example, if you get a key and a treasure chest you get bonus cards to help add to your score. Also, anchor cards keep you from losing all your cards if you go bust. Cannons destroy other players cards, Swords allow you to steal cards and Hooks allow you to reuse cards from your own deck.

    That’s a fair bit to keep in mind, but there’s more. As you gain gold you get multipliers. You can Triple the number of cards you get when you combine the Key and the Chest. You can increase the number of cards your opponent has to discard when you use the Cannon. You can reveal more cards when using the Oracle. And there’s quite a few more.

    With all of that comes changes to the games themselves. At first you just try to get as many points as possible without busting. But as you progress the rules change, as in when you go bust your opponents gets all your cards. And for the lower levels, your opponent can’t use special abilities like you can. That changes as you move up the ranks. Plus, there is a whole slew of “Tournaments” that I still have to unlock to figure out what they do.

    This is a wonderful game, with a ton of thought put into it. It starts off simple, but keeps building in complexity as you get to use more abilities. Plus there are opponents you face at each level before you get to move on. At $1.99 this is really cheap entertainment. I wonder if this could be made into a real card game? Or I wonder if a desktop version in the works.

  • Chris Bray says:

    Glad you’re enjoying it! If you’re interested in a physical version we’re doing just that with a Kickstarter. Check out the link below:

    • Don Pedro says:

      I am indeed interested in the physical version and have already put in my pledge of support! I really hope you get the backing for this project. You really have developed a fun game that’s easy to learn, but has excellent variety.

  • Chris Bray says:


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