Pixel Glory, Produced by Zafty 2015, with Design by Frank Alberts & Russell Ng, Artwork by Russell Ng, Clara Ng, and Konstantin Boyko
Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions
What are the recommendations for this game?
Number of players: 2-4
Time of game: 30 minutes
Age recommendation: 13 years and older
The back story:
You are a party of magic users, reminiscent of an adventuring party in Final Fantasy 1 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) North American Side. It is as if the players are all mages, who will set forth into the local dungeon to kill not only monsters, but a Dungeon Lord (Final Boss), and a Dungeon Keeper (Dungeon Lord's Lieutenant). The party must work together in casting spells but it is everyone for themselves in dealing the killing blow (you receive the Glory Points on the monster/lord/keeper by dealing the killing blow). Clear out all of the monsters and the Dungeon Keeper to fight the Dungeon Lord, and the highest score at the end wins!
What comes in the game?
90 Basic Attack Cards made up of 30 Fire, 30 Earth, and 30 Water
36 Spell Cards made up of 12 Fire, 12 Earth, and 12 Water
26 Monster Cards
36 Auction Cards (9 for each player, with values of 1 through 9 for each player)
1 Tiebreaker Staff Card
4 Tooltip Cards
12 White Cubes that track Combo Point Counters
12 Red Cubes that track 1 Hp each
7 Red Hearts that track 5 Hp each
We added 20 Wood Cubes and 10 Wood Hearts (all natural wood color) to help support tokens being placed in the game. The Wood Cubes are 1 Hp each, and the Wood Hearts are 5 Hp each.
What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?
In this game you want to collect the best spells through an Auction process. Each player will use their Auction cards (1-9) to bid on spells that are drawn and placed in an available pool. Each player will receive a total of 9 Spell Cards, and whatever appropriate support Basic Cards they need (at the bottom of the Spell Cards they will have an element times a number, such as Fire x3, which would mean if you receive that spell card you also take 3 Basic Fire cards with it). The bidding serves the purpose of the highest bid chooses first, next highest is second and so on. There will be an extra spell that is discarded during each bid in a two or three player game, while all spells are taken during each bid in a four player game. These cards will form your deck to be used during the second phase (Dungeon), and the auction is known as the Town Phase. Once the Town Phase is over, all the players enter the Dungeon Phase. You will have to consider on your turn how to deal out enough damage to kill enemies and get their points, while not making enemies too weak and thus easier for your opponents to kill. Don't fret if you don't kill an enemy, because if you fail to do so on your turn you will receive 1 Combo Point (White Cube), and you can use 3 of them to instantly kill any non Dungeon Lord/non Dungeon Keeper Card (Elemental Cards are what can be killed, and they are denoted by being colored Red for Fire, Blue for Water, and Green for Earth, there will also be symbols on your Basic Cards that correspond to the colors with Flame for Fire, Water Drop for Water, and Leaf for Earth). When all the Monsters and Dungeon Keeper are defeated, then out comes the Dungeon Lord, once it is defeated, the player with the highest points wins!
How do you deal damage and defeat monsters and win the game?
You have victory points on the bottom right of the Monster/Lord/Keeper Cards that will vary from 1 to 3 points each. In order to gain the victory points, you will need to deal enough damage to kill the monster, which will be denoted in the top right, and will vary from 8 Hp to 20 Hp.
At the start of your turn, you will draw 4 cards, you must use all of your cards during your turn. Even if you don't want to, you must exhaust all of your cards during your turn, regardless of whether or not it sets up your opponent to defeat the monster. The exception to this is that you can put one card in "reserve" at any time. You can also take your card out of reserve and use it at any time. Your spells will deal certain amounts of damage. If you use an attack card against its elemental weakness you will add +1 damage per card used, (Earth is weak to Fire, Water is weak to Earth, and Fire is weak to Water). If you use 2 Fire attack cards against Gargantula (weakness Fire) you will deal 4 damage (each card is 1 damage, and due to elemental weakness you deal +1 and +1 again, so 1 base +1 weakness +1 base +1 weakness for a total of 4 damage from those two cards. You can also use Basic attack cards to set off an SP condition (Synergy Points) on a Spell card to use extra abilities and deal extra damage. If the card says 3 SP and is red, if you sacrifice 3 Basic Fire cards with the Spell you activate its SP power instead of its regular power. All of this is how you kill creatures, and then add up your points at the end to determine who has the highest.
Special notes about scoring:
In the event of any tie, whether it is during an auction, or totaling of points at the end, the person holding the Staff of Tiebreaking wins! When the Staff of Tiebreaking has been used to decide something, it is then passed to the other person who lost the tie, if this is not applicable then give it to the next player involved in the tie in clockwise order.
How long does the game go? How does a game turn work?
The game is set for 30 minutes. There are the two phases, first is the Town Phase, and second is the Dungeon Phase. The Town Phase will see everyone build their personal arsenal of Basic and Spell Cards. When each player has gone through nine bids, then the second phase starts. The Dungeon phase will see 11 to 15 monsters (depending on number of players), and 3 monsters come out at a time (unless you play as two players in which case you will see all 11 at once). Once these monsters are defeated, including the Dungeon Keeper, you will all fight the Dungeon Lord. Once it is defeated, count those points up, and highest wins! The longest part of phase one will be deciding what spells you want to have and use. The longest part of phase two will be deciding how to distribute your damage to maximize your points and minimize points for the other players.
First off, this game blows my mind at how it throws me back to playing Final Fantasy I on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and Final Fantasy II and III on the Super Nintendo. It is themed beautifully for this. The game plays quick, and the learning curve is low. Everyone is guaranteed their nine spell cards, but the auction can become interesting when there is one really great spell in a group. The second phase made for a constant struggle between dealing out damage to kill monsters but not set up the other player for success on their turn. It was very gratifying when you would kill a monster, and you would do everything in your power not to hand over the game to the other player. Lots of strategic decisions to be made here.
You are going to like this if you are into deck building, spell casting, and damage distribution games. This is not a heavy, nor a long game, so it will serve to be a great in between game. If you or your players like throw backs to some of the Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) then this is a must get!
We loved that it played quick, and that the score went back and forth until the very end. My wife was up by one fighting the Dungeon Lord, so whoever dealt the killing blow would win the game, and she did in an epic fashion. It was down to the wire, and even though I lost, I felt pleased with a narrow loss. We will be teaching it to our kids as we believe the learning curve easily allows for it, so I can strongly recommend this as a family game as well. I see great potential for expansions and homebrews for not only additional monsters and bosses, but also spell cards and new elements. What was bad, was there were some game issues not clearly addressed, such as what defines a monster, and why would the Dungeon Lord allow you to gain combo points if they could only be used on other monsters, yet those monsters wouldn't be there as the Dungeon Lord is the final boss. Also why obtain combo points if they cannot be used on the Dungeon Lord.
All in all I score this a 9 and my wife and 8 on the BoardGameGeek scale, and that says a lot seeing how she publically declares all the time that she is not into deck building games. This is a game that deserves a look at minimum, but will probably be a hit with a lot of players that are nostalgic about 80's and 90's video game rpgs!
Thank you so much for reading this report on Pixel Glory!
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)