Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
Addicted Estonian gamer with big heart and direct winning attitude. Need any help with something, just ask. Need some GG for something, just ask. Need something to be translated, just ask. Meanwhile, behave! :D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
Earlier this week I got myself a prototype copy of the game called Biomechanical Dino Battles. To this day we have played the game about ten times so far and yet we have to find those huge annoying things you usullay find in new games.
The game has pretty easy rules so there wasn't much misunderstanding about that while playing the game. We had two new players in our game group as well. New players as to deck building games, who had never ever before played any kind of game like that. This was interesting for me and Martin to watch as big fans of the genre.
The three main players throughout the sessions were me, Martin and Rivo.
We all have played other deck building games, basically most of them out there since I own them all and we all have our favorites. Just to make it clear before I will bring out the favorites of the three main players.
Martin's favorites are: Thunderstone, Nightfall, Resident Evil Deck Building Game and Tanto Cuore.
Rivo's favorites are: Dominion, Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, A Few Acres of Snow and Arcana.
Raiko's favorites are: Dominion, Nightfall, Eminent Domain and Core Worlds.
I tell you these favorites because this way if you have played some of these games you understand more easily what they said about the game and about the comparisons in general.
About the game
Game set up is similar to Dominion and Thunderstone the most. It has Dino deck (Monster deck on Thunderstone) and it has the strategy and item decks (village and kingdom decks) and it has the status card decks (heroes, money and curse decks). Well, this comparison in not 100% accurate, but should make the point very clearly.
At the beginning you reveal 5 Dino cards from the dino deck (or less with less than 4 players). The goal of the game is to get yourself some bio mechanical dinosaurs and battle with other players and score yourself 3 dead dinos from other players. So yes, this is interactive deck building game like Nightfall, were to goal is to actually destroy other players.
Each turn players have 4 things they can do: play strategy card (1 action in Dominion), attach cards to dinosaurs (similar to creating a chain in Nightfall), combat (enter dungeon in Thunderstone or attacking like in Nightfall) and finally you can buy a card (1 buy like in most deck building games).
You start the game with 12 cards (new trend after Thunderstone) and you also have discard pile, draw deck, active dinosaur zone (1 Dino card) and dinosaur bench (extra dinosaurs, up to 3). This game calls discarding a card a JUNK and destroying a card PURGATORY. Seems each DB game has their own names for these 2 things.
The 3 main cards in the game are Attack, Evade and Defend. With these cards you can Attack, Defend, Evade and buy cards, so they have a huge part in the total of your success in the game game.
Each card in the game have a cost (except for combat and status cards). The cost are in combinations of Attack (A), Evade (E) and Defense (D). Although they act like a money in this game, buying cards is usually pretty easy and doesn't take that much an effort. In this game your goal is to actually build a light and accurate deck according to your dino abilities, so you could make it the best attacking machine possible. And the best thing is that combat cards themselves are free, just to take when you need them (still use the 1 buy). Besides these cards there are 3 status cards that clutter up your deck while you play - Wound, Poison and Paralyze. As of yet there are no cards that cause player to have Poison or Paralize yet, but there are few Dinos in the game that will make other player suffer a little bit through these status effects. Wound is the most common of them and can come and go pretty easily. Wound card is basically just and empty card that takes up the space in your hand. It doesn't have any other effect besides that other than making your opponents deck little bigger. So you can build the deck of your opponent player. There are ways to get rid of these cards, usually by sending them to purgatory with different strategy cards effects.
The strategy cards are nothing more than action cards. They actually give the same things like action cards in other DB games. You can have +1 buy, +1 draw, +1 combat and so on. They will give you more actions, more buys and more attacking and attaching possibilities. These cards will make the whole difference in the deck building part of the game and make up your strategy of how available the card are for you during the game. Deck builds up pretty fast in this game, so it has this old Dominion like vibe to it. At least for me it has.
Item cards are basically spell cards (similar to Thunderstone). They act like separate part of the game and they actually have a playing cost, which is new to DB games, because so far you only had only a buying cost or certain places only when to play them. Item cards have so so many different effects in this game. Some of them actually allow you to attack your opponent outside of your own turn and outside your dinosaur. In theory it makes it possible to win the game without having any dinosaur at all. In theory at least, practically almost impossible since all attack (divided by 5) would give you wound cards. Item cards also can weaken your opponents dinosaur for a moment or boost up your own dinosaurs stats for one attack or one defense. Item cards are powerful, very powerful in my eyes and can change the game pretty fast, but they have the playing cost, which makes them quite annoying when you have the right card to save you, but don't have cards to play it. Buying them is easier than strategy card, since most of them have only 1 combat card cost. For me, the main strategy for the game was to find right balance between combat cards and item cards and so far it has been successful, since I have 100% win rate at this game against not easiest opponents like Martin, master in most games he plays.
And finally we have the title character in the game - the dinosaurs. Who doesn't like dinosaurs and robots??? Well, in this game you have them combined into one thing and the players are their master/trainers/controllers. Each dinosaur usually have up to 2 different attacks with different effects. Some are brutal attack with brute force, while others are fast and weak, but give your opponent poison effect or some little minor head ache. Some attack even help you outside the combat, like give you extra buys. Besides the regular attacks, each dinosaur also have and ability (might have). More like and status or small powers to assist them. In this game you have 3 of there: spiked, immune to poison and immune to paralyze. The last 2 are pretty much self explanatory, but the first one is a cool one and my favorite one. The spiked dinosaur will gave the attacking player 1 wound card when it defends. Pretty cool way to bug your opponent.
Of course dinosaurs have also strength, evade and defense numbers. These are different on all dinosaurs and are usually balanced pretty well, like high attack give low defense. This is the part each player has to choose while buying dinosaur cards for themselves. In combat you can always use items to boost up these abilities, so sometimes it is smarter maybe to take one with lower numbers, but with better abilities. Well, who knows, this game have a lot of possibilities.
While players are in combat, there are few things you can do. Before it you can always attach cards to dinosaur you can use to make the attacks. So usually one attack takes more than one turn to make, especially the strong attacks.
And when you want to defend or evade, you must also have these cards attached to the dinosaur or else you have no such option to make when big claws are about to hit your face. Best part is that your opponent never knows what cards are attached to your dinosaurs until it is too late and you turn them over. This gives you this bluffing ability that I have used quite a lot to scare attacked away from in fear that you just defend or use some powerful item to make the attacker pay for even thinking about attacking you.
One moment in the game when your dinosaur hit points are about to deplete, you can choose to heal it with items (if there are any) or to change it out with dinosaur with full health from your bench. This is usually the option I take in the game. Losing a dinosaur is never a good idea.
The overall feel of the game is good. It has a nice flow and the clarity of the all makes it pretty good game. So far people have taken the game pretty well.
Those 2 new players to genre were impressed and wanted to play more and more. It was fun to watch them try different things each game, like one game trying to buy a lot of strategy cards or other game going to full attack mode with a lot of combat cards. There is no best way I think, since you need a lot of different aspect to actually win the game in the end.
Although the copy I have has no art on the cards yet, it was still a fun experience. One day when I have a full copy with full art in my hands, I am pretty sure it has superb success as a deckbuilder in many homes over the world. Well, to this moment you have only read what I have said about the game, but I now make a short summary what Martin and Rivo said about the game.
Martin: "Well, the game is no Thunderstone (his favorite DB game), but for me it has the same feel like Warhammer: Invasion has. It is fast game, easy and each new game you can try something new. I really like how Rivo always has the right items when he needs them and how Raiko always has the cards to attack you, almost every turn. There ways to play this game in every way you want and win with it. I would place the as 3rd DB game I have played so far just a little after Nightfall. I am not the biggest fan of non-interactive DB games overall, so cannot really talk for those people. I cannot wait the full version of this game, then who knows, maybe it beats the Nightfall madness as well..."
Rivo: "I really like the easy buying in this game. It makes the strategy part pretty easy. I don't have to worry too much about the actual buying, but can more concentrate to right card buying. For me this game has a strong Ascension feel to it, the fast and easy feel. The attacking doesn't feel like attacking to me at all. It feel like I am collecting right cards to score points. I can see us playing this game with other people as well, besides fans of the genre or just gamers. Pretty easy to explain. Raiko told the game like in 2 minutes and done. For newbies to the genre it takes of course a little longer. The few house rules we tried, didn't had the change we hoped for, so for now, we continue the game with the original rules."
The first sessions were great in many ways and hopefully we have many more in the weeks to come.