Tobold sent me an invite to the Card Hunter beta and I have been playing a bit. The game is a crazy mishmash of DnD, Magic: The Gathering, and old school computer RPGs. Thematically I found that initially it had some real appeal and amusing jokes but they rapidly got stale. While I appreciate mockery of Gary Gygax as much as anyone and laughing at ancient grognards and their dungeon crawls is amusing it really only lasts so long. To play this game long enough to want to spend money on it would definitely end up with me wanting to punch the screen for some reason or other. I want to like it, I really do, because people who could make a mashup of all these things I love must be awesome but yet I don't actually want to play.
The biggest problem I have encountered so far is that levelling often makes me feel bad. In many cases I got worse for gaining a level and that is a terrible design flaw. When you level up you often get a new slot for equipment which in most games would be a huge benefit. More stats! In Card Hunter though a new piece of equipment just adds more cards to your deck so it doesn't necessarily benefit you at all, especially if those new cards are crap. It makes your deck bigger and thus more inconsistent and the baseline cards that get added are generally terrible so much of the time gaining levels is a terrible thing. Not only that but when you buy or find a new shiny piece of gear having a bigger deck means that your gains are diluted.
Getting equipment can improve your situation substantially but it seems to take a really long time to do so. I found that the difficulty of adventures ramped up very quickly and because levelling wasn't really making me much better I needed to just farm up gear. Unfortunately gear seems to scale very weakly so the farming process looks pretty daunting. I need to find rare gear to get significant upgrades and that appears very seldom - unless you pay, of course. I don't want to pay into a game that is in beta and I don't want to guess to figure out how much money I would need to invest.
In the end I think that Card Hunter, were it implemented as a game I could buy for twenty dollars, is a game I would buy. However the fact that it is designed around being monetized frustrates me. I don't know how much money I have to sink in to be good and make the grind less brutal and I don't care to throw money at it to find out.