A hidden gem snuck out onto Steam late last month in the form of an unprepossessing deckbuilder, Aces & Adventures, that while it might sound like nothing special has the higher production values and interesting design of a much bigger game. At its core it's a clever little thing, a deckbuilder that has the card-adding-talent-accruing gameplay everything since Slay the Spire specializes in, but couples that with a combat system based on drawing and playing poker hands to attack and defend.
I think it's quite clever, and the poker-based elements aren't obtrusive if you don't know poker too well. In truth, they just provide a nice resolution engine to play around with. That plays out over 13 narrative campaigns, each of which is fully voice acted with nice narration and character flavor. There's also a full-on roguelike default mode after that, which procedurally generates runs to play. A session of play takes about 10-20 minutes, perfect for a quick round or an hourslong-binge.
The game has five separate characters, each with their own neat playstyle, and four difficulty modes in those 13 campaigns for a total of... 52 levels to play. Which is a lot of work to go through for a joke that simple but honestly I am forced to respect that.
If you're into poker for the bluffing, well, this probably isn't your thing. If you enjoy card games, though, the devious probabilities of five-card stud poker hands are in full bloom here. Unlike other games I've played, there's an integration of the themes of poker here, with the suits of Club, Diamond, Heart, and Spade referred to as elements. Things get wild once you start messing around with cards that let you change the suit of your hand, or that give bonus effects for using particular suits.
On top of all that you can even customize the decks themselves, adding a level of deckbuilding and upgrading outside the main action of the campaigns.
Developer Triple B Titles has also said that it's "about to begin work on major content updates for Aces & Adventures as part of our post launch content. It's still a little early to share details, but these are big plans, and we will post a road map in the coming weeks!"
You can find Aces & Adventures on Steam for $20.
Triple B Titles got its start as an indie with RPG-shooter Ring Runner in 2013, but first game to my attention for their—in my opinion—criminally underplayed Popup Dungeon, a combination of tactical roguelike RPG and coop game with wildly diverse custom game creation modes enabling everything from dungeon crawls to story-driven adventures.