Random Encounter: Plains of the Troll King is a game by Jamie Keddie, published by IDW Games. It is for 1-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of travelers in a pixelated fantasy land. They will be trying to fill up their loot chest by collecting loot along their path. Of course, they'll need to protect their own loot as other players will be attempting to snag their loot. In the end, the player that can acquire 6 loot first will be declared the winner.
To begin, the reference card is placed in the center of the play area where all players can reach it. Key cards and Boss Cards with a white star on them, are removed from the deck. The remaining cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 9 cards. The remaining cards are placed face down in the middle of the play area. They also receive 1 loot die, which is placed with the number 1 side up. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
The game is played over a series of rounds. Players begin by looking through their 9 cards and creating a series of encounters using these cards. Each encounter is placed face down in front of the player in a row. The player is allowed to use any number of cards to create an encounter. However they must have no less than 5 encounters in front of them. Encounters consisting of multiple cards are stacked together where the other players can see how many cards each encounter consists of. Players then choose an encounter to protect their loot die, placing the die behind the chosen encounter.
Once players have finished building encounters and placing their loot die, the battling begins. The first player chooses an encounter in front of one of their opponents to battle. They then select one of their own encounters to use against it. Both players then reveal the chosen encounters simultaneously. First players check the colored stars on the cards. There are 4 different colored stars, excluding the white Boss cards. Yellow stars are your basic creature cards. Their level shows how strong the creature is. Blue stars always win, unless the opposing encounter has a red star. In that case, the red star encounter wins. Red stars always lose unless the opposing encounter has a blue star. In that case, the red star encounter wins. Green stars cause players to swap their encounters. Battles are then resolved normally. If a winner has already been determined due to stars, players then determine the combined levels of all their creatures in the encounter and compare them to the opposing encounter's creature levels. The player with the highest total level wins the battle. If players tie, then all cards are sent to the discard pile. The winning player then takes all the cards from the encounter and places them in front of themselves showing that they won the battle. Subsequent victories are stacked so that other players can tell how many encounters have been won during the round. If a player defeats an encounter that had a loot die behind it, they take 1 loot from the player's die and add it to their own. Players can never drop below 1 loot, however winning an encounter still rewards the winner with 1 loot even if the die shows 1 loot. If a player happens to lose an encounter with a loot die behind it, they they are forced to pay 1 loot to the defending player in addition to losing the encounter. Once a player has battled, play passes to the next player in turn order who battles. The battling continues with players taking turns until no more battles can take place. If a player has any encounters left and there is one left to battle, their remaining cards are discarded. The round ends afterwards. Players then check to see who won the most battles that round. That player then collects 2 loot, adding it to their die. Players then check to see if any player has 6 loot. If so, the game is over and that player is the winner. If no player has reached 6 loot, the game continues with 9 new cards dealt to each player. The starting player is rotated to the next player in turn order.
It should be noted that the game also includes a solo option that includes using the Boss cards and Key cards. I'm not going to go into the details of it here, just be aware that this is an option for playing the game.
This game contains some very nice pieces. To start with, their are 5 loot dice. Each one of these is very high quality with pixelated pips and a treasure chest in place of the number 6. I really like the look of these and think the pixelated pips are a nice detail. The only other components that comes with this game are cards. Their are 45 encounter cards, a reference card, 4 boss cards and 4 key cards. The last 2 card types are used in the solo game. The quality of the cards is really high. The artwork is really cool looking. I really like the pixelated artwork. It reminds me of Minecraft. That's probably because the artist on Minecraft the console edition is also the artist and designer of this game. The pixelation style is prevalent in every aspect of the game. The art is very fun and whimsical. Overall, I like the look and feel of every piece of the game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is rather nice. It's got plenty of pictures and examples of game play throughout. The rules are explained rather well, apart from the explanation of how the stars work. This information is included on the reference card, so DON'T LOSE IT!!! The book also includes a rather lengthy rules explanation for playing the game solo. There are also several optional rules that can be added or left out as the player chooses. The book also includes some ways to level up the game to make it more difficult in either solo or in multiplayer mode. Overall, the book is quite good. I don't necessarily think that the material on the reference card should have been left out of the book. I think that it was a minor mistake, but not something that I feel is a deal breaker. In any event, apart from that, the book is well done and easy to read through and understand.
8 out of 10
This is a fun and simple game. Some might compare it to the classic card game of War. In many ways, I can't completely understand that comparison. I mean after all, players are taking cards and comparing them to another player's cards and the highest number wins. That is unless they have a star card that changes things up a bit. Summarized, that's pretty much it to the game. It's super simple. It's the stars that make things a bit more interesting. It's not just a simple number comparison. I also think that the stylized pixel artwork really adds a more fun and entertaining feel to the game than what it should really be. I also feel that the loot die adds yet another layer to the game as a whole. Yes there is going to be a good bit of luck due to what cards each player draw, but that is mitigated by each player's choice. You have plenty of cards to customize at least 5 encounters with. By the way, stick with 5 encounters. If you start going with more than that, you spread yourself too thin, but that's just my opinion. Overall as a multiplayer game, it's a really light and fun game that the whole family can enjoy. That would be enough for me. However add in the fact that the game can be played solo against a Boss creature and you have even more layers to an already fun game. For me the solo game is a unique and fun experience. It's nothing too complex but just some quick and light fun. As I've said, the game is basically War. There are no miniatures, board or chits. It's just a deck of cards and a die each, but yet it's a game that I enjoy playing.
8 out of 10
Random Encounter is a light card game of battling encounters. The game is super simple and can be played in a very short amount of time. Most game sessions don't last any longer than 15 minutes. The artwork is really light and fun. I absolutely love the Minecraft pixelated look and feel to the game. I especially like the green dice that comes with the game for keeping track of your loot. This is a fun game that is easy enough for all ages to play. Many players will liken it to War and that's ok. It does share similarities to the classic game but adds more flavor and fun to it as well. As a light weight filler game this is fun for everyone. The solo game is a work all it's own. If you enjoy solo games like Friday or the like, then you'll enjoy this. I would recommend this game especially for solo players. Families will enjoy it as well. Overall, it's a multi use game that is designed to entertain. What's not to like.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out IDW Games at their site.