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Subject: A unique game that deserves a home in any large collection rss

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Purple TripleCrown
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I'm writing a review for this game because, despite being recently taken out of production by VPG, it deserves a better fate. It is a unique game that will please those with large collections who think they might have seen it all.

I'll review the gameplay only briefly. Set against a fantasy backdrop of good vs. evil, the game is played in 3 phases. In the first phase, players alternate placing creatures, items, environments, traps, etc. along a path that the hero must travel toward his confrontation with the Fiend. In placing these items, the players also place tokens to "power up" the items in multiple variable ways. In the second phase, players alternate committing to the specific ways they will power up the creatures, items, etc. In the final phase, the players "execute" their strategies and the hero attempts to make his way across the board to his confrontation.

The game can be played in 30 minutes quite easily (depending upon how much AP you tolerate in the 1st 2 phases). There is no luck involved in this game, apart from your initial draw of 7 creatures/items/etc. from your deck of 20 cards. That mechanism, along with the different power up choices that you can experiment with, makes for a surprising amount of re-playability for such a small game.

In terms of aesthetics, the art is retro - 8 bit style, which I found charming for this simple battle of "good vs. evil". The cards are small, but decent quality (I sleeved them, because I think it would be impossible to side shuffle them without damaging them, and because 20 mini cards are not bulked up all that much by sleeves). The "board" is paper (which I covered with plexi), but I don't think there would be any durability issues with this type of game, and the paper sat flat even without the plexi. The tokens are the truly bad stickers mounted on thin mounting board of that era of VPG, but they are more than serviceable for the game (I chose to use a knife to cut the nibs before removing them from their counter sheet, which made them a bit more pleasing to the eye, and less prone to damage). This is a game packaged in a polybag (nuff said about that).

In my collection, this game is unique. While you can make some decisions in Phase 3 of the game, if both players play that phase optimally the game is really determined by your choices in phases 1 and 2. I found that to be quite interesting. Phase 3 feels like the "execution" of a program. Of course, you can make mistakes that affect the outcome, so you can't simply be on autopilot.

I can really offer no negatives about this game, except to say that it felt odd that if you had enough movement capability, or an extra action available, you could waltz right by would-be defenders of your opponent. However, this oddity did not detract from the challenge or charm of the game. I introduced it to another experienced gamer friend this week, and we immediately played it a second time (high praise during this age of "the cult of the new").

I recommend this game, especially for those of you with an interest in game design and who have already explored a multitude of different game mechanisms.

This is now out of print, but I suspect there are few copies kicking around on the resale market for those interested.
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