To be perfectly honest, I spent a good five minutes trying to decide which category to put this under, which is great because it looks (and sounds) set to bridge analogue and digital gaming. Of course, were I forced to choose only one then it’s obviously a digital game; but since AGN is akin to that wall on the tavern people impale notes on, I’m going to choose all the categories. This is a post about Card Hunter and I can’t wait to play it already.

Every so often, when I’m doing some reading up on the developers in question I come across something exciting. Like those Fly’n guys with their blog dripping in charisma-goo, except Blue Manchu is a little different. You see, they’re a small group of individuals, not unlike an indie team. However, where an indie team (usually) lacks experience, these guys come packed with it — heavy luggages full of awesome, creative energies bursting for release.

Blue Manchu is made up of veterans and here’s some of the studios they’ve worked in: Irrational Games (BioShock, Freedom Force); Looking Glass Studios (Thief, System Shock); and Trion (Rift). We have Luke Carruthers, with Reading Room being one of the companies he’s founded. We have Kevin Kulp, a Game Master and game designer with experience in Wizards of the Coast among others. We also have, as design consultants, Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias — Garfield, as a student in the late ’80s, created Magic: The Gathering while Elias founded Magic‘s Pro Tour.

Let that sink in for a moment then watch the trailer.

Chances are the only people who’d be excited right now are the guys and girls who like their cards and board games. With any luck there are fans of tactical, turn-based combat among you whose interests have just been piqued. Even better would be getting the attention of those who’ve never once touched a card game aside from Uno, because Card Hunter will be a great introduction to a world that’s rich on gameplay.

Card Hunter is an online, collectible card game […] .

Tired of pressing buttons while grinding away at quests? Card Hunter is all about skill – your skill at deck building and playing your cards. Tired of paying for endless new card sets? Card Hunter lets you win by playing, not by paying.”

Card Hunter is a free-to-play title and Blue Manchu plans on earning via ” items and other things that enhance your game experience”, without resorting to pay-to-win schemes. However it’s being made with Flash, which raises some concerns I have about performance although they seem pretty confident about it. Thus, the game is played on a browser with hopes for a downloadable client and tablet versions for the Android and iOS in the future.

There will be lots of single-player content as that is the game’s primary design. That said, competitive multiplayer won’t be left out — there aren’t any details or specifics yet and I suspect we won’t be hearing about it for quite some time. They do have plans for a co-operative and group play modes “in time”.

There are a couple of videos you can watch to find out more, such as Polygon‘s coverage during PAX or the developer diaries for greater insight behind how the game plays. Beta applications are open on their website if you’re interested so be quick about it because chances are there’ll be lots of others wanting to give this a shot.

What are your thoughts on an original card game designed with the strengths of the digital platform? It’s a shame there isn’t any online multiplayer but I’m very interested in seeing how this one turns out.