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Tomato Town

United States
North Carolina
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Time for me to renounce my high-falutin' games writer cred, and I shall do so with great enthusiasm.

Reign is a game that can only be explained by time travel. I suspect it tumbled off the back of a Toys R Us shelf in the year 2000, somehow slipping into a rift and arriving in the modern day. Inexplicably, it also attempts to capture the decidedly modern trend in battle royale games. The time stream is a fragile thing and I fear that this has caused irreparable damage to our timeline, but if a time traveler insisted I give them my copy of Reign to right this wrong I would only do so begrudgingly.

What I'm saying is this game is not particularly modern. Turns are simple: pick one of your pieces, walk them up to 3 spaces, then optionally pick up any power stones you've landed on and start fights with adjacent pieces. Combat is a straight up roll-off with modifier for how big your piece is (1-3). Those aforementioned stones can be spent to add a d3 to your movement or combat roll, but only if declared before taking the relevant action.

This is very nearly all of the rules with the exception of the battle royale chunk itself. Every X number of turns a slice of the board will be removed, killing everyone still on it. You get warned in advance. Vacate or die. The center of the board is safe, meaning every game culminates in the final pieces of each faction rolling for victory.

And man, I don't know what it is about this game. It's pure junk food, just scooting pieces and starting fights and chucking dice. But this is one I keep coming back to, one I always want another play of, one I choose over games that are "smarter" or "better designed" or "not purchasable for $12 at places like Kohl's".

I don't care. I like this stupid thing. Time capsule qualities aside it does have the advantage of being a functional dudes-on-a-map that plays comparatively quickly, usually 30 minutes or so minus the interactive setup phase where you drop all the stones and your aforementioned dudes one by one. That actually adds a pretty significant amount of variables to consider as you may load up a particular side of the board not knowing if it'll be there for long. Is that a strategy? I dunno, I'm not sure this game has a lot of that. But it feels like you're doing something, and it gives people something to care about. Isn't that enough?

Look, I've always played games with a focus on people first. Board games are inherently social. My favorite games, generally speaking, are the ones that serve as especially slippery social lubricant. Reign is not a BGG superuser's kind of game, but it's beer & pretzels as hell and makes the people I play with smile. And also me! It makes me smile! That's worth something, especially if that something is $12. Where a lot of modern games offer an interesting mechanical twist but lack a soul, Reign barges in half-drunk and mildly concussed just to hang out with you. It feels familiar, like it's always been on the shelf, an old favorite despite not being any of those things.

But when a game works I try not to question it too much. And Reign works.
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