Will Plante
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Good morning everyone,

I have been thinking about adding another deck builder to our collection.
I am posting now because one of the games I am considering is on sale today at MM for $24 (Thunderstone Advance: Numenera).

We currently have Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game and all the expansions; and while I enjoy this game set up/tear down is a bear and the one thing I don;t like is that by the time you get a rare superhero you are lucky if you get to play them once. Overall I rate it a solid 8 when you include the expansions.

The other deck builder we have is Eminent Domain (I still have it rated a 9 although it may go down depending on the expansion). I really enjoy this game, but it has not been played in months since we bought RFtG.
I am planning on picking up the expansion when it comes out, I think it will breath some new like into the game. I really enjoy the role selection mechanic in this game and the quick set up/play time comparative to Marvel.

What I am looking for:

1. A game where the central mechanic is building your deck.
While I really enjoy Eminent domain I feel that the role selection is just as important as the deck building component.
One of my biggest frustrations with Legendary is how hard it is to thin out our deck. I am also not the biggest fan of how they handle the separate economies in the game, although expansions now let you use recruit/attack in different ways.

2. Theme is important to me if I want to get my family involved.
The only exception to this may be Dominion.

3. A deck builder that my family (My son is 11 and my older daughter is 8)will enjoy.
A game that is not too heavy for my 8 year old daughter to play.
She can handle both Legendary and Eminent Domain.

4. Since I want to keep our collection at a manageable size this will probably be the last deck builder we buy for a while, so hopefully it will have some legs.

I would not mind a game that is longer than Eminent Domain or Legendary as long as it feels epic and there is a sense of progression.
I find Legendary to lose its luster towards the end game.

My Short List:
These are games I have researched and think my family and I would enjoy.
Any thoughts you have on them would be greatly appreciated.

Top 3 candidates listed in order of interest:

1. Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin or Thunderstone Advance: Numenera.
I have looked at this game since the Advance version came out and I am wondering if I should finally pick it up.
The question is could I start with the Numenera version (for $24 today only) or should I go with the base version?

2. Dominion and some eventual expansions.
Does Thunderstone fill the same niche with more theme?

3. Puzzle Strike (Third Edition). Only con is it seems best as a 2p game which is okay since I do tend to play games with just one of my kids and it is quick so I could play back to back games.
Also the theme is horrific, but I could get past it.

Where on the list but now they are way further down:
4. Trains
Not sure if my kids will like the theme. Believe it or not I think they wouuld enjoy the setting of Dominion more.

5. Core Worlds is another game I have been on the fence about.
I wonder if it is too deep for my son and especially my daughter. I really want a game all 3 of us can play.
How does it compare to the depth found in RFtG?

Thanks for reading this rather lengthy post, I would really appreciate any help you can give me.
I will also gladly tip for your thoughtful advice.

Cheers and happy gaming,
Will
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Kolby Reddish
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When it comes to deck builders, I always recommend Eminent Domain. It feels like other deck builders, but also has a role selection mechanism that keeps other players engaged during the other turns because they can do almost just as much during your turn. It plays with up to four, and I feel like it works very well with any number.

The most interesting thing about it for me is that it has a really good integration of the theme in the game. Most deck builders, you are buying new cards, but it doesn't feel at all like recruiting or whatever it's supposed to be. In Eminent Domain, you use your cards to colonize and conquer planets, which are worth points, instead of abstract points on cards - though there are a few technologies that are worth points. I'd say watch a good quality video review, and you'll understand more about what I mean.

Another plus, the new printing is just getting release here in the states, as well as an expansion. The bundle during the KS was $50 for both, but you could definitely start with the base game alone and play for a long time before getting bored.
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Will Plante
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reddish22 wrote:
When it comes to deck builders, I always recommend Eminent Domain. It feels like other deck builders, but also has a role selection mechanism that keeps other players engaged during the other turns because they can do almost just as much during your turn. It plays with up to four, and I feel like it works very well with any number.

I completely agree with you, this is one of the 2 deck builders we own.
Maybe I should just stick with the expansion for this game when it comes out.
The Numenera sale is what kind of jump started me to create this post.

Thanks,
Will
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J H
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I like Ascension: Deckbuilding Game. The simplicity of play and the quirky art make this my favorite deck builder.
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reddish22 wrote:
When it comes to deck builders, I always recommend Eminent Domain.

Papa Ninja wrote:
The other deck builder we have is Eminent Domain



--------------
Out of the games you write about, I'd go with Dominion. Mostly because it really has lots of legs It definitely will have enough of them for you, no matter how many legs you want

As both you and your children are experienced with deckbuilding idea, I think you should start right from Base and Intrigue sets mixed together. And maybe also throw in Walled Village, Envoy and Stash promos (those are at a similar complexity level and would fit well into the game).

Play it, if you like it, play it a lot. Deckbuilding is really a central mechanic here. Lots of possibilities to explore.

If you like it enough to play it many times and decide you want something more, you can think about getting more. If you do, in whatever order you like, get Seaside, Prosperity (Governor promo fits best here), Cornucopia and Hinterlands. This adds over 90 new cards and will give you loads of new interactions to discover and explore.

If you play also this a lot and decide this really is a game you love (probably only after several hundreds, if not more, plays) and you need something new, go for Alchemy, Dark Ages, Guilds and Black Market promo. Those are most complicated parts of Dominion, requiring experience to enjoy and play well.

All of this can easily keep you busy for at least two years (even if at some point you switch to online play to save time on setup and shuffling). I learnt Dominion 17 months ago, played around 3000 times since then and still consider myself at most a medium level player with lots to learn. And if you decide you want more than 205 cards currently existing, maybe there will be another expansion released (though it's not planned at the moment), and if not, you will be experienced enough to decide which of unofficial expansions (found mostly here or on DominionStrategy.com forum) is fun enough to be worth adding to your set.
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Thunderstone vs. Dominion is a tricky call. People that don't care about the theme argue they aren't the same at all, and that you can own both in your colleciton. On the other hand, people like me that enjoy games for theme usually say they fill the exact same niche and can't fathom why you would own Dominion over Thunderstone. I'm currently trading away/selling my dominion boxes and looking to replace it with TA:ToR, eventually. Ideally I think you should get the base game first as it helps ease you into the game, but if that deal is too good to pass up then go for Numenara and grab the base game later on.

I've only played Puzzle Strike online, and I found it highly overrated. If you don't like the theme then you should pass over it, as it's basically exactly the same as Dominion/Thunderstone but with poker chips (and if you aren't absolutely enamored with the thought of using poker chips then odds are you aren't the target audience).

Trains is a great game mechanically (or so I've been told), and most people that play it seem to think it's mechanics override it's theme. But since theme is such a huge consideration for you it might be wise to pass over it for now and maybe see what you think if you get a chance to play it later.

I've never played Core Worlds so I can't speak to that one, unfortunately.

Overall I think Thunderstone is going to be your best bet if you think your family will enjoy the fantasy/dungeon-crawler theme. It's got the best combination of what you're looking for.
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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I have Puzzle Strike (Third Edition) and Puzzle Strike Shadows and am very happy that I got them over a year ago. My 7 year old son and I have played numerous times and still enjoy it to this day. One of the best things about the game is the different characters. It is possible to pick a character that doesn't match up well against another character to make the game more challenging. This is what I like to do with my son to give him a sort of an advantage. I don't have to water down my approach when playing against him. When my daughter 10 used to play the game was fun as well. It is still best suited for 1v1 though in my opinion.

Having Puzzle Strike, the next deck builder that interests me the most out of your list is Core Worlds. I imagine I will probably pick it up some time this upcoming year. I'm not entirely convinced my kids are ready for it quite yet, but I figure they will grow into it. I don't mind having games sit on my shelf for a year or two, till my kids are mature enough to enjoy them. I would rather have games that are bit tough for them than too easy.
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I own Legendary and Thunderstone, but since Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, have not been able to get them to the table. I picked them all about the same time. However, about 2 years ago I started teaching games of Dominion and yes it can easily be your goto game for 2 years, and to all those you might have introduced the game to in that time.
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I own and have played many deck-builders and I really love the mechanic. When it comes down to it, my favorite and the one I consider to be the best is still the first one, Dominion.

The game is simple and direct, but it includes nearly endless variety (especially with an expansion or two). It is ideal for families - I expect that both of your children would be able to play it with no problem. It also plays quickly. I know people attack it for having no theme, but it does have a theme that works with the game, it's just not highly integrated.

I'd also recommend Trains as a close second. I don't think it is as good as Dominion, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I expect the game to get better as more expansions are released.

Finally, have you looked in the DC Comic Deck Building Game? It's extremely simple and quick, set up and tear-down are very easy, and can be a lot of fun. Not a ton of depth to the game and some have criticized its lack of theme, but it has been a lot of fun in my family. Since I picked it up, it has been the most-played game with my kids (ages 4-12).
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Haha, wow I didn't read that line, obviously. If you like EmDo, I think the expansion is going to add a lot of cool stuff, I'd recommend you check it out!
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Papa Ninja wrote:

5. Core Worlds is another game I have been on the fence about.
I wonder if it is too deep for my son and especially my daughter. I really want a game all 3 of us can play.
How does it compare to the depth found in RFtG?

In Core Worlds you have to manage your actions and energy in addition to drafting. So, in that sense it is not only about building your deck, which is exactly why I like it. But I feel that the more you play the more important the deck management becomes (especially with Core Worlds: Galactic Orders, which gives some more tools for that) in addition to maximizing what you get out of your actions and energy during each round. You don't know which units and worlds are appearing each round, so you have to prepare for contingencies or take risks, and try to figure out what your opponents are going to do. And the deployment action required to get your troops out before they can invade worlds is very thematic.

I don't think your daughter can be very competitive at first, but I don't think she would have any problems with the rules or game play itself. I have found that Core Worlds works well for a wide variety of players, so you may still want to consider it, even if it doesn't emphasize the deckbuilding aspect.

The depth in Race for the Galaxy... Is there something else than knowing the card interactions beforehand, and probabilities of getting them, and on the other side, guessing which phases get activated? On that level the games are pretty equal, I think.
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Michael F
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Of the games you've listed, Thunderstone would probably get my pick, though I am a bigger fan of the Ascension games. The theme is a little lackluster...it has more than Dominion, but less than Thunderstone...but otherwise I think it would be your best bet. Only takes about 30-45 minutes depending on how many players are involved, and it's a lot of fun.
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Will Plante
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cagriggs wrote:
I own and have played many deck-builders and I really love the mechanic. When it comes down to it, my favorite and the one I consider to be the best is still the first one, Dominion.

The game is simple and direct, but it includes nearly endless variety (especially with an expansion or two). It is ideal for families - I expect that both of your children would be able to play it with no problem. It also plays quickly. I know people attack it for having no theme, but it does have a theme that works with the game, it's just not highly integrated.

I'd also recommend Trains as a close second. I don't think it is as good as Dominion, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I expect the game to get better as more expansions are released.

Finally, have you looked in the DC Comic Deck Building Game? It's extremely simple and quick, set up and tear-down are very easy, and can be a lot of fun. Not a ton of depth to the game and some have criticized its lack of theme, but it has been a lot of fun in my family. Since I picked it up, it has been the most-played game with my kids (ages 4-12).

Thanks for the info, I have considered the DC game just not sure if I want to add a game that simple to my collection when I have other games we enjoy that cover that niche.
Enjoy the GG my fat fingers pressed the 5gg. I don't care I just want to let everyone know why the tip was so high.
Again thanks for your reply.
Will
 
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Papa Ninja wrote:
Thanks for the info, I have considered the DC game just not sure if I want to add a game that simple to my collection when I have other games we enjoy that cover that niche.
Enjoy the GG my fat fingers pressed the 5gg. I don't care I just want to let everyone know why the tip was so high.
Again thanks for your reply.
Will

I just figured your really liked my advice!

The DC game is really simple, but my kids love it. I do have to shuffle for the two youngest, but they can handle the mechanics.

By the way, I have played both Thunderstone and Core Worlds and they both fell flat for me. While I think they are more thematic, that didn't make any difference to my enjoyment of the game. And while I know Core Worlds is a deck-building game, I felt like there were so many limits on my deck and so few uses of many of the cards that I didn't enjoy it. I was so excited about that one but ended up trading it away.

Good luck with your choice. I hope you find a game that works for you - no need for any more tips!
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Will Plante
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First let me thank everyone for their insightful responses, I really appreciate it.

A few of you have mentioned Ascension which is a game I have played on my iPad quite a bit so I am not really interested in getting the physical copy.

I am having trouble deciding between getting the game I really want to play and one that will be fun for my kids as well.
Personally, I really want to get Core Worlds, but I feel like Dominion would be more approachable for them and it has a quicker playtime.

a1bert wrote:
The depth in Race for the Galaxy... Is there something else than knowing the card interactions beforehand, and probabilities of getting them, and on the other side, guessing which phases get activated? On that level the games are pretty equal, I think.

I don't find RFtG complex, but as of now my daughter would have a hard time picking it up and being successful at building her tableau.

If Core Worlds is around the same complexity of Eminent Domain then she would do pretty well with it.
I am also concerned with the end game; a few people have commented elsewhere that it gets mathy and can take a long time to plan out your last few turns. I do not want to get a game that is going to bog down when we are playing.

At this point I feel like I am talking myself into getting Dominion.

Does anyone have any love for Puzzle Strike, seems like it would be a fun game with some direct interaction. If it is similar to Dominion then I would skip Puzzle Strike, plus Dominion is a lot cheaper.

For some reason every time I think about buying Thunderstone something holds me back. Am I right in thinking that it will be similar to Marvel?

Thanks again,
Will
 
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Eurodude at heart: Dominion

Dungeondude at heart: Thunderstorm

I've played both and prefer the world of Dominion more. It just suits me better, but I have never been a huge fan of fantasy/dungeon games. If you like monsters/weapons/ battles go for Thunderstone Advance.
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Quote:
Does anyone have any love for Puzzle Strike, seems like it would be a fun game with some direct interaction. If it is similar to Dominion then I would skip Puzzle Strike, plus Dominion is a lot cheaper.


Puzzle Strike is the way to go. It is a Dominion descendant, but it adds two very important twists to the deckbuilder formula:

Firstly, it has a dynamic and interactive victory condition where players send their anted gems back and forth to save themselves and force the opponent into a loss. This is huge and feels a lot more exciting than a victory point race.

Secondly, the character chips give it asymmetric starting states - meaning that in addition to the usual bank variety of deckbuilders, there is also matchup variety. This means that it has an order of magnitude more replayability than most other deckbuilders -- at the 50-100 plays range where many people feel Dominion starts to get stale without expansions, you've only played each side of each character matchup once in Puzzle Strike.

On top of those twists, there are a slew less-important things Puzzle Strike does very well: it has built-in comeback mechanism that feels natural; it gives players meaningful actions in the first cycle; it has a nice action/reaction system that keeps players involved on all turns; the rules about what information is public are sensible; and the game has been balanced for high-level competitive tournament play (despite such balance fixes earning the game significant hate on this site).

The downsides are:

The interactive victory condition adds notable complexity, making it harder to teach than more basic deckbuilders. This is a serious concern and might be a deal breaker for playing the game with children.

The use of chips and bags instead of cards and decks is weird. Shaking a bag is quicker and easier than reshuffling a deck, but chips are harder to hold in your hand than cards, and in longer games the discard stacks get unwieldy.

The multiplayer modes are not as good as the 2 player game. Each additional player adds complexity and extends the average gameplay time. This can get worse with some characters and banks, and I have seen multiplayer games involving first-time players drag on for 2+ hours.

The theme is a weird personal in-joke for the designer. This can be a real turn off and does not help in explaining what the game actually is. If you just think of it themed as a video-game fighter theme it's a bit more palatable, and you may (or may not) find the individual characters appealing.

As a final thought, while the base-set entry point for Dominion is lower, a complete set of everything Puzzle Strike costs like half of what a complete set of all things Dominion does -- and going completionist on either one of them gives you more replayability than you will exhaust in your lifetime.
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Jacob Bazar
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Contrarian opinion: Dominion has a better theme than Thunderstone. Thunderstone's theme is the one that's crudely pasted on, not Dominion's.

Why? Because Thunderstone's theme makes no sense. I can only use my weapon or spell or item when the card comes up? Am I juggling all of my possessions and using whichever one is in my hand when a monster pops up? The goal of the game is to kill a randomized Benny Hill conga line of monsters dancing single-file out of a dungeon?

Dominion, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. I am a nobleman in Europe 600 years ago. I use my gold to get more gold by hiring guys to work for me. I then buy land, the most permanent store of wealth at that time.


P.S. You already own and enjoy Legendary, which suffers from the same pasted on theme as Thunderstone so you shouldn't have a big problem with it. However, the two games are similar, why not get something a bit different?

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yoggoth wrote:
Contrarian opinion: Dominion has a better theme than Thunderstone. Thunderstone's theme is the one that's crudely pasted on, not Dominion's.

Why? Because Thunderstone's theme makes no sense. I can only use my weapon or spell or item when the card comes up? Am I juggling all of my possessions and using whichever one is in my hand when a monster pops up? The goal of the game is to kill a randomized Benny Hill conga line of monsters dancing single-file out of a dungeon?

Dominion, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. I am a nobleman in Europe 600 years ago. I use my gold to get more gold by hiring guys to work for me. I then buy land, the most permanent store of wealth at that time.


P.S. You already own and enjoy Legendary, which suffers from the same pasted on theme as Thunderstone so you shouldn't have a big problem with it. However, the two games are similar, why not get something a bit different?



Haha, that conga-line comment really got me. Good job .

I think it probably comes down to personal taste. I actually have a hard time conceptualizing Dominion thematically. "I play a village. I draw a card and get two more actions!"

...Huh?

It just doesn't make that much sense to me, whereas if I play a spear with my soldier in Thunderstone it makes sense that I do more damage. But hey, there's no accounting for personal taste, go with what works for ya .
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Will Plante
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Thanks everyone for all your advice, it has been greatly appreciated.
I ended up getting a trade request due to this thread from another Bgg'er that I accepted.
I am receiving a copy of Dominion for my Iello copy of Innovation.
The trade offer sealed the deal.

I not only think that will my kids get into the game but so will my wife.
She is not a huge fan of the Fantasy/Sci Fi theme; although she has been enjoying Lords of Waterdeep.

Cheers everyone and happy gaming!
Will
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Glad everything worked out for you. I too enjoy RftG, but didn't bring it up earlier due to your daughters age.

Now if i could get someone to trade me another copy of Earth Reborn for a slightly used copy of Gears of War
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