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Valiant Universe: The Deckbuilding Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Initial Impressions from Gen Con 2016 rss

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Matt Daniels
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Rockville
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I have played the Valiant Universe Deckbuilding game twice. My initial impressions follow:

PROS

Valiant Universe Setting
I'm a huge fan of the setting and I'm thrilled to see a new game of any kind set in the Valiant Universe. Overall, the theme is fairly well-represented and it's great to have miniatures of some Valiant heroes. Obviously, whether this is a pro for you personally will depend on how much you like the Valiant Universe.

Tactical Gameplay
The positioning of your sectors affects several important aspects of gameplay, and the fact that the players can move the sectors around adds a chess-like layer to the game as the competing factions jockey to maneuver away from damaging effects, and bring desirable purchase cards closer. This is not extremely common in deckbuilders, and it adds depth to the game.

Interesting Integration of Superheroes
This almost plays like two games at once, but the two fit together well. The added layer of having the superheroes roaming around battling the Facility and each other evokes the setting nicely and adds an interesting tactical consideration.

Lots of Options Means Good Replayability
There are many variables in the game, and the mobile nature of the card stacks in the grid means that by the end of the game, the board is likely to look very different each time you play. Each faction also comes with more card piles (7) than are actually used (5) so there will be different configurations of cards to purchase. The wide variety of cards to purchase also means you can play different styles and strategies form one game to the next.

CONS

Player Elimination
The game's victory condition is a "last man standing" approach,. meaning all other players must be eliminated. That can lead to several players sitting around watching and waiting for the game to end.

Information Overload
When a player chooses to purchase a card, and no sectors (card piles) have been shut down, a player will have 9 cards to choose from. Each of those has two actions, so there's a potentially long window of evaluation as the player considers the numerous purchase options. Some cards include effects that allow a player to purchase any card, which expands that range from 9 choices to 25. The game can come grinding to a halt as a single player evaluates which of the 25 cards (and 50 specific actions) he wants to purchase.

Some Rules Are Unclear
It did not take long for my group to hit a rules question we could not solve via the rulebook. The character Faith has a power that, in summary, allows her controlling player to place a card atop her faction's draw pile at any time. There is no explanation from where these cards must come from, and whether this ability is limited in any way. I imagine there might be other such rules questions I haven't encountered yet.

Minor Component Issues
The miniatures look great overall, but two of them, Ninjak and Rai, have long katana in their hands which, due to the soft plastic, were bent at awkward angles. The card art seems a bit washed out, and all the cards have black borders. This similar look across all five factions, plus the fairly small faction icons, made it difficult for me as a low-vision player to find my sectors (card piles0 once they all started moving around in the grid. I would have appreciated a bolder palette and more differentiation on the cards to make it clearer which faction was which.

Cognitive Dissonance
There is a little bit of fundamental weirdness in the idea of the card piles attacking each other. You have to think of it as the foot soldiers of the various factions assaulting nearby factional control points. It also is not entirely clear why the shut down sectors are causing damage to everything around them. It makes far more sense when the superheroes attack things, but I think the rulebook could have provided more context to explain these unusual interactions.

SUMMARY

This game has promise, but it's a little rough around the edges for my taste. The player elimination style of victory is going to be a hurdle for some, myself included. However, the Valiant theme comes through well and I think that will make the game more appealing for those who love the setting. With a FAQ document to address some rules questions, and some experience to become more familiar with the cards and make purchasing quicker, it could be a fun, rewarding blend of a traditional deckbuilding and a tactical positioning game. Right now I'd give it a 6.5/10, but I could see that going up to a 7 with some clarifications and more familiarity.
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grey endres
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I too am enjoying this game. Our demo did not mention that shut down sectors cause damage. It wasn't until I read the rules that I caught it. Thus it generates a risk/reward... Do I use this card to attack or do I move this shut down sector away from me???
 
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Steven Simmons
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Did they mention a release date at all? I have a copy pre-ordered and still don't have a clear idea of when its coming out.
 
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grey endres
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Sadly they did not.
 
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Matt Daniels
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It was officially released today.
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