Pandemic notwithstanding, I managed to actually get a new to me game (and a new to me expansion) play in with the wife this last month.
I have some new games coming so hopefully this trend will continue into June as well.
It does feel good to finally be playing games again.
It felt wrong to suddenly not be playing games, like watching Betwitched and then suddenly having the second Darren sprung on you.
Be that as it may, we’ll keep this game-playing train rolling!
I’m posting this today even though there’s one more weekend left in May because I know what we’re playing this weekend and there’s nothing new. Going to play some old favourites instead.
So, without further adieu (all of my adieu was eaten by a giant dragon from another realm anyway), let’s get started!
Designer: Jeremy Anderson
Artists: way too many to name
Shadowrift (2nd Edition) is a cooperative card game where you and your partners are trying to fend off hordes of evil monsters who have come through the aforementioned shadowrift and who are trying to wipe out a village.
The edition I have came with a board with slots for all the cards, but you can play it without the board if you want. Then you can put things in any order you have room for on your table.
The Monster deck is based on one of the factions you decide to fight against. The Fire Dragons are recommended for your first one but there are Drow and other options as well in the base game.
Each deck has their own monster cards as well as their own special cards that will have some effect on gameplay (the Fire Dragons will give you burns to put into your deck, meaning when you draw them you will get wounds that will also clutter your deck)
The Monster deck will always have a face-up card on top of it so you know what you’re in for. However, it won’t come out into the play area until a certain amount of power is generated.
The turn starts (after drawing your cards) with restocking the Village and the Travelers from their respective decks.
The Village consists of cards that may help you during your turn, or they may at least help protect the Village.
Travelers, on the other hand, are people who are on the road and that you can pay to come to the Village and stay (kind of like reverse holiday-makers who instead of paying you to stay, you pay them). There will be two available each turn and if you purchase them, they go into the Village deck and will show up on subsequent turns.
Why is that important?
Because one lose condition of the game is that, at the beginning of the players’ turn, the 5-card Village doesn’t actually have any Villagers in it. Instead it’s filled with Corpses and betrayers.
Two other lose conditions are that you use the last Corpse card or one of the monsters just annihilates your ass.
After refreshing the Village and Travelers, the monsters go. If any monsters are in play, they advance one space (there are three before the Power area) and do the action on their card for that spot. It could be to try and kill a villager (replacing it with a Corpse and sending the villager to the bottom of the Traveler stack. It could be something that affects the players.
It could be anything.
After they move, you add Power to the Power area, one for each player plus additional Power for any monsters who have made it there. If enough Power is available, the top monster moves into play and you turn over the next one.
If you and the Village manage to survive all of this, it’s your turn and you can try and wreak some havoc.
You’ll be able to play cards and perhaps call on Villagers to help you.
There will always be 8 Hero cards that you can buy and put into your deck. These may be powerful spells, or skills, or loot that can help you in your fight against the evil creatures.
The cool thing, since this is a cooperative, is that you can truly cooperate with your partner(s). If you gain coins, you can freely give them to another player to help pay for something.
You can’t share some things (like prowess or spell points to buy cards or pay to seal rifts), but it’s nice that you can share some things.
You can also play in any order, with even me playing a card to do something, then another person playing something, and then back to me to play the rest of my hand (if that’s the order we want to do things in).
How do you win Shadowrift?
You win by either sealing all of the Shadowrifts (there is one Shadowrift per player in the Monster deck) or by building all 8 walls.
Walls can be built and put into the Village deck as well. They have some cool effects when they show up in the Village.
We played our first game for 45 minutes before realizing that I had screwed up and you don’t have to actually pay the Villagers in the Village to help you. The cost at the bottom of the Villager cards is for when they go to the Traveler deck and must be rehired.
The game was incredibly hard and frustrating until we fixed that error.
When we tried again, it was a lot easier, but it still wasn’t easy. It was more straightforward, though, and we lost because of some tactical errors that we won’t repeat when we play this again.
Once we were playing it right, this was a fun game that I think I’m going to enjoy trying out the various combinations of Hero cards and Monsters in order to save that Village.
Which we will do, even if we have to kill every Villager to do it!
Wait, that came out wrong…
Anyway, this is a good one that I look forward to playing again.
Designers: Gary Arant, Justin Gary
Artist: Aaron Nakahara
Shards of Infinity has quickly become one of my favourite deck-building games (though playing it tons on the app version before finally getting it to the table at Dice Tower West is probably one reason).
One knock against it for me, however, is the fact that it doesn’t matter what faction you are. Undergrowth, Wraethe, or whatever. It makes no difference. Everybody can just spend one Gem to get a Mastery.
When you add Relics of the Future to the mix, though, that changes.
Each faction has two relics that you can recruit once you have 10 Mastery.
You can only choose one per game, but they are incredibly powerful if you get your Mastery up even higher.
Look at that Panconscious Crown. Each turn you play it, you get 2 Mastery and 2 Life. However, if you get 20 Mastery and also play an Undergrowth Ally the same turn, you get 50 Life!
That can be quite important.
Relics of the Future also has cards that go into the deck and can be purchased by anybody. They benefit whichever player buys them, but if they happen to match your faction, they get even better.
Hounds of Volos gives everybody 5 Life, but if you’re Volos (Undergrowth), you also get 5 Power as well.
I have played the app so much that the cards are starting to feel the same.
Relics of the Future reinvigorates the game and I am so happy I bought it.
Look for reviews of Shards (both app and card game) and this expansion in the next little while.
So what new to you games did you manage to get in during May? Or even, since I didn’t get anything for April, what did you play in April?
Let me know in the comments.
It’s very good to be back.