Archmage has an immediate resemblance to Magic: The Gathering, and regardless of whether you like or hate the concept of a game with a principle business goal of making the cards you've already purchased obsolete you have to admire the core concept and influence that this game has had. The idea of a minimal set of rules in which each card breaks those rules and provides the owning player with an advantage has been used and reused. Archmage's similarity to Magic ends with two dueling forces competing in a turn based strategy card game as its cards don't really break rules. In fact, this game is much simpler and lighter than Magic.
Before we begin I'll need to cover the rules. No, not so you can understand the game, but because a lack of rules is a MAJOR deficiency in this game. The tutorial tells you that you have a wall and a tower. You win by growing your tower to a strength of 100 first or by destroying your enemies tower. It also explains that you alternate turns. What it fails to explain is:
On each side of the screen are three areas with a color, an icon, and two numbers in them. These areas are you quarries, your magic, and your dungeon. The big number is the number of units of each of these your earn per turn. The little number is how many of each of the associated resources (bricks, gems, and recruits) you currently have. You use these resources to pay for cards. A green card with a 15 in the lower right costs 15 green (recruits) to play.
Damage to you or your opponent's tower or wall are basically understood, but damage that doesn't specify a target is not. 'Damage' by itself simply means it hits the wall first and the tower second.
If you don't have enough resources to play ANY of your cards you are forced to discard a card. Discarding (which is covered) is done by dragging a card down instead of up the screen.
Ok, now that we've got that out of the way we can talk about game play. The core strategy behind this kind of game is maximizing your resources to get the most "bang for your buck" to be cliche. An example of that might be playing a card that does 8 damage to your opponent's tower and costs you 4 gems. If you play such a card when you only have 1 gem you can't lose what you don't have (and you don't go negative) so playing such a card when you have few gems is a good idea. Likewise, building your resources generators early so that you can play better cards later is a good thing, too (i.e. it would be better to add 1 to your quarry that gain 5 bricks as it will pay for itself in 5 turns).
The games graphics are pretty good and the audio is up to snuff for a card game. The controls are entirely touch screen based, and I did have the occasional issue with it not recognizing a card drag when it should. You'll want to make sure you understand the rules to the game as the game doesn't allow you to use cards you can't afford. You won't want to think that has happened when it's just that your touch was not recognized.
I'm ultimately a bit disappointed with this game mostly because my expectations were so high as I hurried to download what I thought was a Magic: The Gathering like game. If you anticipate that then you'll be disappointed too. This is a light strategy game. I think often it's obvious what you'll want to do. In a nutshell, each card just changes a few numbers around until one of those numbers is either 100 or 0 in which case the game is over. The fantasy theme isn't necessary, but it's nice. And the game is a nice, light strategy card game with a fantasy theme. There is a 'lite' version in the Android Market to try before you buy which I'd recommend first. 3.5/5 stars.