Game Reviews by Matthew Soares
Designed by: Casey Willet and Aaron Yung
Published by: Black Locust Games
Two factions rival one another, each fighting for a purpose, ready to wage war against one another. The Archangels, angelic beings of light, fight for tranquility and all that is just. The Fallen Angels, angelic beings of darkness, wreaking havoc with great evil. Both factions rely on the elements, including their angelic abilities to achieve victory and defense in battle. Both forms of angels may even come to reach Earth, influencing it’s inhabits for the necessity of special benefits. Both factions will stop at nothing to defeat the other by way of invasion of one’s homeland. If the archangels succeed in the invasion of the realm of darkness, all may find peace. If the Fallen Angels succeed in the invasion of the realm of light, all may suffer in misery. The question is where will you stand when choosing your Kingdom?
Kingdom is a two-player card game in which players each play as an angelic faction, trying to defeat his or her opponent by way of gaining victory points through invading one’s kingdom. Each player will attempt to achieve this by summoning Angels to attack and defend against his or her opponent, including using the elements known as Pillars, and action cards known as Angelic Scripts. The objective in Kingdom is to be the first player to score 35 points by way of invading your opponent’s kingdom. Players score points based on the numerical rank value of an Angel that successfully invades a kingdom. Players must also strategize to defend one’s kingdom, as his or her opponent will attempt to do the same.
Before explaining how the game plays, one should note that this is a written preview and rules, game board, and art are subject to change. To begin, each player will receive a deck that includes Angels, Pillars, and Angelic Scripts. Players will also receive cubes to keep track of scores on the board, and a power stone to keep track of one’s power also on the board. Both a player’s score and power starts at zero. Players will shuffle his or her deck, placing it in the proper spot on the board, and drawing seven cards as a starting hand. Under special circumstances, a player may declare a mulligan, enabling an opportunity to draw a new hand. The game includes a set of movement cubes for players to keep near the board for each player to use. The Fallen Angels act first.
In turn sequence, players will go through a series of phases to complete a turn. At the start of a turn, the player will draw movement cubes equal to his or her current power value or at a minimum of one if a player’s power is zero. Next, the player may play one Angel face down on a starting zone space. An Angel that is face down is currently inactive. A player cannot have more than five Angels on the board. The player may play Pillar cards onto Angels by paying the cost of the Pillar cards, using one’s power. A Player cannot stack multiple Pillar cards onto Angels. Then the player may activate one Angel from a previous turn by turning it face up, making it active. Angels have special abilities, and some trigger when activating the Angel.
The player can then spend movement cubes to move active Angels on the board. A player cannot pass through Angels or end movement on a space that already has an Angel. Angels each have a movement allowance and players cannot exceed this unless using Angelic Scripts that alter movement rules. The Player may visit Earth by stopping on an Earth space on the board, gaining a special benefit specific to that space. If an Angel attempts to enter a space with an opponent’s Angel, combat ensues.
Each Angel has a special elemental attack for each orthogonal and diagonal direction on the board. Players will compare the elemental attacks to see who will be victorious. The combat system of elemental attacks uses a rock, paper, scissors mechanic. Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Water, Water beats Fire, and Infinity beats all elements. In cases of a tie, the Angel’s numerical rank value will break the tie with victory going to the highest ranked Angel. Defending Angels equipped with a Pillar gains the elemental ability and rank bonus of the Pillar during combat. However, attacking Angels equipped with a Pillar gains only the rank bonus. If a tie in combat cannot break, both Angels defeat each other in combat. Defeated Angels go to the discard space on the board.
In the next phase of the turn, the player can burn (discard) Pillar and Angelic Script cards to gain power. The amount of power gained relates to the cost value of each card burned. In the final phase of the turn, the player will draw his or her hand back up to four cards, or draw at a minimum one card if he or she has more than four cards. Players should note that at any point in time during one’s turn or even during an opponent’s turn can play Angelic Script cards by paying its cost in power. Angelic Script cards are action cards that can enable different types of enhancements to give a player an edge. Players will continue to take turns until one player is the first to score 35 points. A player scores points equal to the value of an Angel’s rank when he or she can move an Angel onto the opponent’s kingdom space. The player also gains any additional points buffered by abilities or an equipped Pillar card’s rank bonus. The player will remove the Angel and any equipped Pillar when scored from the game. When a player scores, he or she must also reset his or her power back down to zero.
Kingdom is an interesting card game that requires strategic planning and thorough balancing of management with regard to a player’s turn. Players are likely to finish Kingdom in about an hour. When playing Kingdom, players will find that the game possess various points of the tug-of-war thought process. Does one save valuable Pillar and Angelic Script cards, minimizing accessibility to movement cubes for having low power? Alternatively, does one burn Pillar and Angelic Script cards to increase power, enabling accessibility to movement cubes, but now lacking opportunities for beneficial enhancements? Other balancing elements relate to when a player should play or save an Angelic Script card, or when to attempt movement onto one’s kingdom. Both decks are identical in terms of Angel abilities, Pillars, and Angelic Scripts. One may think this would cause a lack in variety, but such is not the case. The game requires enough strategic planning and balancing to enable variety in play, including variability with the randomness of a shuffled deck. Another concept worth noting is in how the game works even-handed such that a player losing can bounce back, take the lead, and even win. Through repeated plays, such circumstances occurred in a few instances.
From an artistic perspective, Kingdom does well to identify the visual apparent differences to establish contrast between both angelic factions, defining a significant feel in the rivalry of both kingdoms. The Archangels have White cards unique in design, along with a white power stone, and cubes. The Fallen Angels in contrast, use black. Even the board displays significant visual differences with the score tracks, power meters, and kingdom areas with the Archangels located in the heavens above the mountains, and the Fallen Angels deep below the Earth. As previously stated, this is a written preview and some of these designs may change.
Fans of card games, such as Summoner Wars and Cabals will find interest in Kingdom because of its skirmish type feel in card play. Fans of card games that require hand management and the balancing of variable player powers will also likely find interest in playing Kingdom because it often requires such planning. If you are interested in Kingdom, please check out the Kickstarter page http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1281146833/1003677068?token=81a35d7f to learn more about the game.
Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon
Designed by: Johnny O’Neal
Published by: Brotherwise Games
A tavern rings loud with the bustling banter of locals and travelling adventurers in search of glory and recognition. Patrons of the tavern drink merrily, discussing the dangers that loom within these dastardly built dungeons located nearby. Some speak of grotesque monsters waiting to ambush those who enter the dungeon’s rooms, while others speak of deadly traps capable of ending one’s adventure ever so quickly. Yet, all who spend the late hours of the night consuming spirits and mead look beyond the danger of the dungeons, remembering of the treasures that lie within such dwellings of doom. However, amidst the flurry of conversations of harm and bounty, one fool asks simply off topic, “So um… Who builds these horrid dungeons?” Many scoff at the fool with laughter abound, but the keeper of the tavern chooses to answer, “If you must know, ‘tis a boss monster in every dungeon. Each boss monster builds every room, and every boss monster is a master of the dungeon.”
Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon is a card game for two to four players in which each player plays as a boss monster, constructing his or her dungeon as a means to steal the souls of heroes lured by the treasures within. Players will attempt to build the best dungeon through a combination of rooms, upgrades, and spells to succeed in defeating exploring heroes. The objective in Boss Monster is to be the first player to score 10 soul gems. Players acquire soul gems when they defeat heroes exploring their respective dungeons. However, players must also be aware that some heroes may be capable of surviving a dungeon, attacking the player’s boss monster, which could lead to the death of one’s boss monster.
To begin, players will shuffle the Room Cards and Spell Cards separately to form decks, placing each deck face down. Next players will populate the Heroes and Epic Heroes decks based on the number of players, shuffling each deck separately, and placing each deck face down. Players will deal randomly a Boss Card to each player, or players may select a Boss Card, placing the Boss Card face up in front of his or her play area. The Boss Cards will have experience points, which determines initiative for turn order. In turn order, players will draw five Room Cards and two Spell Cards, discarding any two cards placing all discarded cards face up to the discard pile. Players will build his or her first room by playing a Room Card face down to the left of his or her Boss Card, revealing each player’s first Room Card when all players have played one down. Now the game can begin.
At the beginning of a round, players will reveal a number of Hero Cards based on the number of active players in the game, revealing Epic Hero Cards upon exhausting the Hero Card deck. The action described represents heroes entering town. In turn order, players will draw one Room Card. In the next phase of the round, players may play a Room Card to the left of the leftmost card in his or her play area, or on top of an existing Room Card. Players should play Room Cards face down, revealing it when all players have played a card. Concerning placing a Room Card on an existing Room Card, it is important to know that if the card played is an Advanced Room Card, the card it is replacing must match with at least one treasure type. When revealing Room Cards, players in turn order will activate any abilities of the Room Cards. Players may also play Spell Cards with a “Build” icon. If players can manage to construct the maximum room limit of five rooms for his or her dungeon, his or her boss monster levels up, unlocking the boss monster’s special ability.
Players will then attempt to bait heroes in the next phase. Each hero has a treasure type of particular interest. Each Room Card has treasure types used to lure heroes into the dungeon. Players will add each treasure type of his or her dungeon and the player with the most of a treasure type that can bait a hero will lure that hero to the player’s dungeon. In circumstances of a tie, the hero will remain in town.
In turn order, players will conduct the adventure phase in which heroes will explore the player’s dungeon. Heroes have a health value and Room Cards have a damage value. Heroes will enter each room receiving damage for the room entered, advancing onward into the next room. The hero will advance the dungeon until the hero dies or survives. If the hero dies, the player will flip the card face down, revealing the soul gem value on the back of the card, and place the card to the right of his or her boss monster. If a player can reach 10 soul gems first, he or she wins. However, if the hero survives, the player places the card to the right of his or her boss monster face up, receiving damage from the hero. If a player’s boss monster receives five points of damage, the player is out of the game. During the adventure phase, players may also use Spell Cards marked with an “adventure” icon. The game will continue in a series of rounds until a player meets the win condition or all boss monsters are defeated.
Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon is a fun, quick, light, and addicting game to play. Players are likely to finish a game in about 30-40 minutes. Despite the simplistic approach in terms of mechanics and gameplay, one cannot help but enjoy the light strategic elements of trying to find the best combinations of building rooms to trigger maximum effectiveness with regard to abilities, including when best to activate spells or a boss monster’s ability. The game is also entertaining in enabling players the capability to screw with each other by means of disabling opponent’s rooms, boosting heroes entering opponent’s dungeons, etc. Nothing is more fun than hindering an opponent’s attempt to destroy a hero only to have that hero survive and attack your opponent’s boss monster. Although the game is not intensely in depth with regard to strategy, the game exhibits enough variety with rooms, spells, and boss monsters to allow some strategic planning and possibilities. However, concerning the heroes, it would have been nice if every hero had a triggering ability instead of just some.
The components of the game are of good quality. The artistic approach is fantastic and humorous, as the pixelated, 8-bit art supplements the entertainment of playing the game, creating a sense of watching a Nintendo video game in motion. The game box design is also beneficial in the way of making it easy to carry around in one’s travels because the game box is sturdy and compact. The rulebook and cards demonstrates good art and quality. However, the cards could have been a slight bit thicker, but it does not affect the quality of the game.
If you are a fan of light strategic games that can play quickly, games for the family, or video games of an old school era, Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon is certainly worth checking out because it is a game that will entertain players in many aspects of experiencing the game.
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