GAME REVIEW: Nostalgix, an Interdimensional Collectible Card Game

Title: Nostalgix
Medium: Tabletop (Physical)
Developer: Nostalgix TCG
Price: Starter Deck (51 Cards + Dice): $12.99; Booster Pack (10 Cards): $3.99; Base Set 1st Edition Booster Display Box (36 Packs): $119.99

In this game you are the hero of the Nostalgix universe.  An ordinary night at home becomes the extraordinary start of your adventure as your dreams are intercepted. Unable to wake, your spirit is whisked away to a strange new land of dimensions and memories. With all-out war looming, your only choice is to assemble a team of fighters with amazing abilities, and battle your way to obtain the ten shards of the Keyspark – a portal that will return you home.

Nostalgix TCG

We are in the middle of a collectable card game boom. Magic: The Gathering is releasing more sets than ever. Pokémon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh! are navigating a recent revival of interest, to varying degrees of success. Nearly every week an established franchise announces a new collectable card game.

Nostalgix harkens back to the memories of when collectible card games had just exploded into the market. Borrowing and refining mechanics from all the games above and more, the game aims to live up to its name. And yet, in all of that, Nostalgix feels fresh. 

After a highly successful Kickstarter in 2021, Nostalgix released its first edition in 2022. The first expansion, Harmonic Surge, will release in June, 2023. 

Over the course of a week, I played more than 15 full games against another player and a number of partial solo games against myself to test mechanics. I am new to playing card games seriously, though I have often tried this genre of games in the past. Every game was played against a veteran who is enthusiastic about collectable card games. Without her, this review wouldn’t be remotely as comprehensive.

This review only covers the original Day Zero/1st Edition set of cards. 

Disclosure: Boss Rush Network received a review kit which contained the Singularity starter deck, the Turn Up Time starter deck, a Nostalgix Base Set (Day Zero), a set of Lucky Frog card sleeves, and a Voodoll plush. Nostalgix TCG did not make any stipulations upon this review, nor did they or any representatives read it prior to publication.

Photo Credit: James Bojaciuk


What You Get

We received the starter decks Turn Up Time and Singularity. They come in triangular boxes which feel like the kind of novelty packaging some PC games received in the 90s. Nostalgia for Tomb Raider’s PC ports to one side, they’re small, attractive boxes that I intend to keep for ease of storage. 

Well, for ease of storage and one other reason. The starter decks are not printed in the instruction booklet. If you want to keep a written reference of the original deck’s composition, you need to either keep the box or cut out the square printed deck list. Since most players will quickly move away from the starter deck to form their own, it’s not the worst problem, but as someone who keeps every scrap of documentation it’s a notable detail. 

Each box contains a 50 card deck, a foil Hero card, four ten-sided dice, and a rules booklet. The decks do a good job supporting their hero, staying on theme, and showing you possible directions you can build into. Each deck has a few different win conditions that you can continue to build toward as you find your footing. The team did a good job selecting cards that are good for both the designated win conditions and generally useful for building any kind of deck. 

One of our eight dice had a manufacturing defect, concave on one face. That makes it essentially useless for rolling, as it highly favors the opposite side. I hope this is a rare defect. 

As for the booster packs, they’re well-designed. They open easily, and without danger of damaging the cards. 

Photo Credit: James Bojaciuk

Basic Mechanics

The mechanics can be easily grasped. It’s excellent for introducing newer players to card games. It’s also familiar and nostalgic to veteran players, bringing them back to their favorite card games.

Each player arrives with a deck of 50 regular cards and one hero. The hero has one skill that can be used during your turn, and if they are taken out it’s an instant game over. For example, Brekon the Miner allows you to gain 1 temporary mana a turn at the cost of 3 of his health.

Fighters will be one of eight different elements: neutral, metal, water, mystic, light, earth, dark, and fire. Naturally, cards of each element are strong against one and weak against another. With enough mana and the right cards they can evolve into more powerful forms. 

For example, the relatively weak Meduset can eventually become the powerful Venomusa. But even the weakest cards have their advantages: Meduset can blind Heroes and Fighters she attacks, forcing them to skip a turn. 

Spells affect the battle instantly. For example, Lucky Draw allows you to draw one additional card, reveal it to the other player, and then deal damage equal to that card’s mana cost. 

Surprises are played secretly, flanking the hero on the table. At its most simple, NOPE allows you to, well, say nope to any spell the other player tries to cast.

Equipment is attached to Fighters or Heroes. Team Uniform gives you +1 attack for each Fighter and Token on the board.

Finally, Arenas change the rules of the game. The card Tutorial Level always resets players to having the starting amount of cards. 

Victory is won by either knocking out the opponent’s hero or by collecting ten prize tokens from the other player. These tokens are earned as you defeat their fighters.

Each turn, mana increases by 1 to a maximum of 10. You use this mana to play cards and activate abilities. For example, Meduset costs 2 mana to play while evolving her into Venomusa costs 6. 

Nostalgix doesn’t have the complicated turn phases that other games often feature. On your turn, you draw a card and then you are free to  use your mana to deploy cards and use what you already have on the board. It makes the game easy to get into and flow quickly. 

Once you have a handle on the rules, each game takes about 20 minutes. It flows smoothly. 

Putting the Nostalgia in Nostalgix

If you’ve ever played a collectible card game, you might be feeling deja vu. The above mechanics are familiar. 

Just to name a few… The evolutions recall Pokémon and Digimon. The surprises recall Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Trap Cards. The heroes and mana system recalls Hearthstone. Each one is refined, and rebalanced. 

The best thing about Nostalgix, from a design perspective, is that you don’t feel like you’re playing a half dozen games rolled into one – you’re playing one game that has made each of these mechanics neatly work in unison. 

Deck Building

Deck building is clear and offers ample room for creativity. You are tasked with building a 51 card deck, which contains a hero and 50 other cards.

These 50 cards can draw from any fighter element or type of card. You are free to build a deck based around fighters and their evolutions, or go all in on spells and surprises. 

It says something about how well balanced the initial set of cards is, that all of the decks my opponent and I built (each centered around trying a different mechanic) seemed viable.

It’s very easy to see foil cards from the sides of an unsleeved deck. Many players will solve this issue by opting to play with sleeves, but otherwise it is extremely noticeable.  

Photo Credit: Nostalgix TCG

Art & Design

Card games are known for their gorgeous art, and you could almost judge a game solely on this front. Like Nostalgix itself, you can tell where the inspirations lie, but the artists work to find a new, cohesive direction. Many are industry veterans and it’s interesting to see their work in a new context. 

There are many wonderful artists and it’s impossible to highlight them all in the space I have available. I’ll briefly mention a few are some whose art has charmed me in my time playing.

Boe Leahy’s spectrum of styles that range from innocent, loose art to characters that deserve to be in the wildest and best 80s animated series opening. Ceri Langell’s cards feature dynamic poses and sharp details. Edwin-San’s colorful, playful compositions stand-out in most decks. Petey Pariah’s cards have memorable character work, some charming and some mask-inspired Fighters that will haunt my dreams. 

Trainer Matz’s very classic “animated children’s show about monster trainers” style that evolves alongside the fighter into dynamic, highly detailed characters. Indra Audipriatna has created art for only one card, but that card’s marriage of classic animation and the ligne claire style catapulted it to one of my favorites. 

Respecting Their Customers

Nostalgix’s ultra-rare cards are basic cards with alternate artwork–rather than artificially rare powerful cards.  In addition, Nostalgix allows proxies of any Hero to be tournament legal.

The pricing on the expansion is also reasonable. Even at discount, even smaller booster box expansions to Magic: The Gathering will cost over $120–the base price for the first Nostalgix set’s booster box. The booster box set for the second Nostalgix set is $78. 

At discount, starter decks for Magic: The Gathering run $24 to $50 dollars. The starter decks for Nostalgix contain nearly identical contents, but for $12.99.

It’s refreshing to see a collectable card game that respects the audience’s time and money. Compared to any of Wizards of the Coast’s recent actions, it’s downright laudable. 

Final Score

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have tried many collectable card games over the course of my life, both physical and digital. I ultimately bounced off of all of them. Far too often they were awkward to play, complicated in ways that added busywork but not depth, or ran along such narrowly defined metas that there were only a few right ways to play. As of the base game, Nostalgix avoids all of these pitfalls. The game is open, offering many options, and no one true strategy. Or, at least, none that we could divine from the cards available to us. 

Out of all the collectible card games I’ve tried, this is one of the most fun to play with friends who aren’t deeply immersed in card games. I know, because I have often been that friend. But I played with someone far more experienced, who is keen for a good collectable card game. She, too, enjoyed it. 

Nostalgix excels at having clear, interesting mechanics, at engaging the players, and at remembering card games are just as much art piece as game.

I wholeheartedly recommend it.

You can find Nostalgix’s player guides on their website.

The Boss Rush Podcast: The Flagship Podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network

The Boss Rush Podcast – The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, Stephanie, LeRon, and their friends from around the internet come together with other creators, developers, and industry veterans to talk about games they’ve been playing, discuss video game and entertainment based topics, and answer questions solicited on social media and the community Discord. 

New episodes of the Boss Rush Podcast release every Monday morning on YouTube and all major podcast applications like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Patreon supporters gain one week early access

Listen on your favorite podcast application or watch on YouTube!
Anchor | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Twitch | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Stitcher | Amazon Music

Follow The Boss Rush Podcast on Social Media:
Twitter | Discord | Instagram | Twitch | YouTube | Facebook Group | Facebook

Featured Image: Nostalgix TCG

Leave a Reply