Calculords iOS review

Calculords iOS review

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for one of the most unique and oddly compelling strategy titles I’ve played in a long time.

I speak of Calculords, a game that deftly combines maths, card collecting and tactical turn-based combat. It’s really good. I think…

There’s some suitably ridiculous story here, specifically that Earth has been destroyed by the bastardly Hate Bit, and you – as the Last Star Nerd – are tasked with kicking butt via the medium of Calculord Cards.

But what does that mean in terms of Calculords gameplay? Ok, so, basically you’ve got two teams, one on the left, one on the right, and the goal is to get to the other side and destroy the other team’s base.

You take turns at deploying units, and with three lanes in play and an array of unique cards, it’s probably fair to say that Calculords is a bit like a turn-based Plants vs. Zombies. Of sorts.

The twist in Calculords is the way you deploy units. See, each card has a value associated with it (generally the higher the value, the better the card), and you can effectively buy the unit if you can match its cost using at least some – not necessarily all – of the numbers in the bottom right. Imagine the numbers game in Countdown, and you’re in the right ballpark.

Calculords iOS review

In one of the screenshots I took for reference purposes, I have units worth 12, 7 and 2 points. The numbers I’ve been dealt for that turn are 2, 3, 5, 5, 6, 6 and 7.

Now, you receive a bonus for using all numbers in one turn, and a further bonus for deploying all available units. As such, I’ll start by multiplying 2 x 6 for the 12, and use the 7 for the 7. Still with me?

So I have a unit worth 2 points left, and the remaining numbers are 3, 5, 5 and 6. I’ll do 6-5 to make 1 and 5-3 to make 2; multiply them together and you get… 2! Job done.

And that’s Calculords in a nutshell. Next turn I’ll get a new selection of units, and a new hand of numbers to buy them with.

Starting with the pros, Calculords is utterly fascinating. It’s deceptively deep, and you can customise your deck to make use of cards you’ve stolen from defeated opponents. You can even customise the number deck, but heed the warning: “A lack of versatility may severely limit your ability to deploy cards.” Eh, think I’ll leave that alone for now.

As for cons, Calculords is brutally hard, but! I’ve discovered that grinding away against lesser opponents is key to progressing. I initially spent over an hour battling the second guy (Cpl. Krak) in a single, gloriously epic war, only to lose, but after leveling up against the first guy (Fancybot), I managed to beat Krak and subsequently Cy Tosinor in back-to-back encounters. Incredibly satisfying.

My only other gripe is the touch sensitivity, and perhaps the lack of multiplayer, but both of those things will be addressed in future updates. An Android version is in the pipeline, too. Lovely.


  • Maths is cool (shut it)
  • Soooo many cards to collect
  • Incredibly satisfying (er, when you win)


  • Incredibly frustrating (esp when you lose after an hour-long epic)
  • The touch sensitivity (to be addressed soon)
  • The lack of multiplayer (for now)

Summary: Calculords: turn-based Plants vs. Zombies meets Countdown’s numbers game.

Developer: Ninja Crime

Price: free @ App Store

Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Calculords iOS review

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