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Orcs Must Die! The Board Game: Order Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Orcs Must Die! - a casual review rss

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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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So, I've played the game now three times (two times the "rivalry mode" and one time the regular coop mode), so I think I got an impression worth sharing.


1. Content
1.1 Versions and expansions
1.2 What does a core box contain?
1.3 Differences between the two core boxes
1.4 Downloads
1.5 Kickstarter Exclusives
1.6 Quality of the components
1.7 Space required
2. Gameplay
2.1 Gameplay Summary
2.2 More Detailed Gameplay
2.3 Combat
2.4 Game Modes
2.5 Luck
2.6 Duration
2.7 Difficulty (to beat the game)
2.8 Difficulty (to learn the game)
2.9 Downtime
2.10 Replayability
3. Verdict
3.1 So, was the game fun?
3.2 What I especially liked
3.3 What could be better
3.4 Buy the game if
3.5 Don't buy the game if
3.6 Rating



1. Content
1.1 Versions and expansions
- OMD Order Edition: the core box, letting you play the "good" guys
- OMD Unchained Edition: also a core box, letting you play the "evil" guys
- Order Hero Pack: adds eight more good characters to play as, including their miniatures, weapon cards and dashboards
- Unchained Hero Pack: the same with "evil" guys
- Boss pack: adds four bosses (including boss cards with their stats) plus six additional related miniatures, including their rule sheets
- adds four new minion types, with their cards and minis and rules


1.2 What does a core box contain?
- a rulebook
- a scenario/map book
- dice
- four hero miniatures, each with their dashboard and weapon cards
- more than fifty enemy miniatures in various sizes
- cards for traps, gear and armies (note that all cards are smaller than the average boardgame card I'm used to)
- cardboard tokens
- 29 thick heavy cardboard tiles
- the larger miniatures are just stored in a bag, the smaller ones have a tay holding them well, and there is a sheet of paper showing you how to put them back in, which is handy as well
Note: all miniatures are already assembled.


1.3 Differences between the two core boxes
The game itself is the same (both versions have exactly the same rulebook). You have different heroes, different art on some of the tiles, different enemies, and some different traps and gear. Which version you buy depends solely on whether you like to play "evil" guys and kill humans and giants, or "good" guys and kill orcs and trolls. Since both boxes are compatible, you can also buy both to have more heroes and enemies to choose from, or to combine the games for the "team vs team" rivalry mode.


1.4 Downloads
There are also some downloads available from the official website:
- rules errata and faq
- rules for each hero that allows you to play them as bosses you got to defeat
- downloads of what comes with the game in printed form (such as the rulebook)
- Announced were also rules that allow you to use miniatures from Cthulhu Wars as enemies in this game, but they are not available yet.

1.5 Kickstarter Exclusives
Kickstarter backers got additionally the following:
- 100 small plastic skulls as replacement for the skull cardboard tokens
- a mini replacing the first player cardboard marker
- an additional mini you can add as a boss in the game (it was said that the rules for this boss will be available as downloads as well, so that non-KS-backers use those with any other mini to not miss out, but the download doesn't seem to be there yet)
- the pc games were included with the KS


1.6 Quality of the components
Great: the rule and scenario books and the thick tiles stand out. The art is great, printing clear and colorful, feels good in your hands.

Good: all the other components basically. The cards are somewhat small, but that makes sense, as you have to place them at times between tiles and on some dashboards, so otherwise all that would get far too large.

Not so good: the smaller miniatures wouldn't mind some sharper details. Also, at least one of the hero miniatures is a bit off in scale.

Bad: there are some annoying typos in the rulebook, that are actually game relevant.

So, in general are the components nice. You have to fix/be ware of the typos though. In regards of the minis, it depends on your expectations. Some people on the forums complained about the smaller ones being of really bad quality. To me they look ok. Friends I played the game with and who don't play games involving miniatures that often repeatedly stated how great the minis are.


1.7 Space required
The coop modes needs a moderate to somewhat large amount of space. You need to have space for the tiles, the minion board, player boards, rift boards, and additional cards, dice and whatnot. It needs slightly more space than the average game I guess.
The rivalry mode again needs a huge amount of space, basically twice as much as the regular game. I played it with coworkers after work on the huge conference table. I couldn't play that mode in my flat whatsoever.

The game needs some shelf space too. While the boxes are not as huge as those of Cthulhu Wars, Kingdom Death: Monster or Shadows of Brimstone, they're still quite large. If you got both core boxes and the expansions, that adds up.



2. Gameplay
2.1 Gameplay Summary
If you know the Orcs Must Die computer game, then you also know the board game, as it's a quite accurate representation. If you don't: the game is a so-called "tower defense game". You have your home base (in this game called "rift"), that waves of incoming enemies try to reach. To win, you have to defeat a certain number of waves of enemies without your rift getting destroyed.


2.2 More Detailed Gameplay
You choose a scenario (or invent one yourself, there are placeholders for that in the scenario book), which are sorted by difficulty. Then you use the map tiles to build your fortress (the dungeon) according to said scenario. The players each choose a hero and a tile to start on, and you put six gear and trap cards each on the rift dashboard. Then you are ready to go.

Each hero has his/her own dashboard, miniature and personal weapon cards. The heroes have a varying amount of health, movement speed, a regular ability, an ultimate ability, and a rivalry ability (more on that later), personal weapon cards, and space for up to three pieces of gear.
The ability might be something like "teleport to another tile" or "friendly players on the same tile roll more dice". The ultimate ability is a strong ability, that you can use once and then need to recharge by spending a lot of skulls (the ingame currency, like credits or gold in other games). Each hero als has a personal weapon with four different power levels. You can spend skulls to upgrade them, somtimes just getting to roll more dice when you attack, sometimes unlocking various abilities, depending on the hero. Each hero has a personal skull pool, and there is a shared pool as well.

Each turn can be broken down to this:
Shopping time: heroes buy gear and traps, upgrade their weapon, heal (if they're at the rift), put skulls in the shared skull pool (if they are the starting player), and recharge their ultimates.

Minion time: enemy minions on the field move, then new ones appear (if you are within the first nine turns of the game), then any traps on the board trigger with various results (healing you, killing enemies, stunning enemies, gaining you skulls and so on), and then the enemies attack players in range. If a player dies that way, your fit loses health, same when a minion reaches your rift.

Player action time: the players can now move, attack, use special abilities and so on.


2.3 Combat
Each hero and minion has one or more vulnerabilities, depicted with icons, that again show up on the various dice. One hero might get hit whenever an enemy minion rolls a speed or wits icon, another hero only whenever an enemy minions rolls a sword icon. Same when the player attacks the minions. They have no health, they're just either dead or alive. For example, to kill a troll in the third (last) phase of the game, you need to have four sword icons. A trap or player having three sword icons will do absolutely nothing against the troll. You can also exchange two similar icons for an icon of your choice.
Then there are also special dice. Some might stun enemies, some might heal you, some have stronger items on them than others. Which dice you use depends on your items, weapon and abilities. Oh, if a player dies, that's not too horrible. The player might lose a turn (as enemies act before players do), so you respawn at the end of the turn with full health and all your stuff. However, when you die, your rift loses health .

So, players shop, enemies move and attack, players attack, and then you get to the next turn. Every three turns the game moves on to a higher difficulty. The enemies become more powerful and might spawn in higher numbers or different places, the players get some bonus skulls, the traps, gear and weapons can become more powerful too. From the tenth turn onwards, no new enemies spawn. If you get rid of all enemies and your rift still stands, you win.


2.4 Game Modes
The game has two games modes. First, there is the regular coop mode, with up to four players. If you have both core boxes, you can combine them, and play in two teams of up to four players each against each other. The gameplay is basically the same, except that you got two dungeons, one for each team. You can move to the dungeon of the other team and attack the players (you gain bonus skulls while you are there for bravery reasons, but you can't place any traps), and the players cna use their so far ignored "rivalry" ability. That might allow you to deal more damage to enemy players, steal skulls, rearrange their traps and so on.

I enjoyed both modes a lot, but I think that in the end the pure coop mode is more for me. The player interaction in 2vs2 rivalry games was a bit limited for my taste. Some people enjoy that, as it's then more about which team has the better strategy than the players disrupting each others gameplay and attacking each other. Of course, having played the rivalry mode just twice, we might have picked an inconvenient map, or we sucked too much in defending the rifts so that we got too busy there. I assume that in 3vs3 or 4vs4 rivalry modes, there might be more of an interaction, as you can more easily split up your team in one group defending your rift while the other attacks the enemy team.


2.5 Luck
There is a luck factor involved. You might roll your dice badly, stronger than average waves of enemies might appear, the wrong enemies might walk into the wrong traps, or you don't have the traps available for purchase that you'd like. In the coop mode, I don't think it matters a lot. You roll that many dice, that everybody sometimes has a bad or good roll. Trap and gear selection gets replaced completely every three levels anyway, so you have enough variation there as well. In the rivalry mode, things are a bit different. It might happen that one team is attacked by six orcs on turn one, and the other by twelve, for example. For which team that is good or bad (more enemies = potentially more skulls to earn, but also potentially more damage to the rift and heroes) is up for discussion. We played the second rivalry game with a house rule, that each incoming army is mirrored for each team, so that this aspect is perfectly balanced as well.


2.6 Duration
The games creator estimated a duration of roughly 30 minutes per player. For us, it was slightly more, like 40 to 45 minutes. Then again, The coop game I played with three players who never played the game before, and the rivalry games had once (including me) four new players and once one new player. I assume that once you know the game play and abilities better, the gameplay is somewhat faster.

The setup time is average. What takes the longest is probably choosing a hero and a scenario. Then you just hand out the cards and boards and slap some tiles on the table to build the fortress.


2.7 Difficulty (to beat the game)
Personally, the worst thing I think that can happen to a coop game is if it's too easy. I love a challenge. I'd rather have a closely lost game making me shout "let's try again and be better!" then having one where it doesn't matter what I do because I win anyway. Luckily, the difficulty of Orcs Must Die seems to be well chosen. The beginner difficulty scenario we played yesterday set quite a number of enemies on us, and looked very challenging, but in the end we won without our rift having taken damage or a player having died. If the beginner level makes people actually think on how to dispatch the enemies the best, then I assume that higher difficulty levels pose quite a challenge. In addition, there is the optional rule of not having your ultimate available from start, and the expansions can increase the difficulty as well.


2.8 Difficulty (to learn the game)
Here I mean the difficulty to learn the game, not how difficult it is to beat the game. This is in my opinion light to moderate. At first, there is quite some stuff to take care of. Whats the difference between red and yellow dice? In what phase can I do what? What happens in this and this case? So, it's easy for experienced boardgamers, while those who are not that much into that hobby need a bit longer, but after a couple of turns get into the game as well.


2.9 Downtime
In the coop game with the maximum number of four players, there was no noticable downtime. One reason is, that the "shopping/upgrade phase" of the heroes can be done by each player at the same time. I also kept every player busy, by making one player take care of new incoming enemies, one player of handing out skulls, one player of taking care of the rift including its gear and traps, and so on.
In the rivalry mode, there was a bit of downtime. In the 2vs2 games we played, it was possible that one team was done earlier and basically kept waiting for the other team. Of course, this depends on how likely the players are to overanalyze things. The rulebook states, that in case of doubt the start player makes any decisions if players take too long. I'm not sure if in an 8 player rivalry game there'd be a lot of downtime, or whether the planning and strategy with three teammates would keep you busy.


2.10 Replayability
It's there. You have a number of different scnarios, four heroes to choose from, and random incoming armies, as well as random gear and traps available. All that ensures that the game doesn't get repetitive easily.
However, if you really enjoy the game and will play it more than five times or so, then I think you need some expansions. With one hero expansion you triple the number of heroes to choose from. The bosses increase the difficulty and add some variation, and so on. So, if you are sure that you will like the game and play it more often, then you need the expansions.



3. Verdict
3.1 So, was the game fun?
Yep, I enjoyed it, and the others as well. The nice quality of the components and great art result in a good atmosphere, and there was quite some laughter at the outcomes of various strategies or fights.


3.2 What I especially liked
- The art and quality of (most) components.
- The number of scenarios.
- The high replayability (especially if you got expansions).


3.3 What could be better
- What I miss a bit is a way to rate how a game went. For example, with the coop game Ghost Stories, you can calcuate a score in the end, and write it down in a table. It's interesting to see what for scores you reached in various difficults over the years.
I guess that with Orcs Must Die you don't need it that much, as, unlike in Ghost Stories, you have different scenarios to choose from. So instead of ramping up the difficulty with rule changes and see what scores you reach, you just pick scenarios with a higher difficulty and see whether you can beat it or not.
Of course, we could make that up ourselves of course (using a score for the health of the rift, plus the number of unused skulls, player deaths, and then use a difficulty multiplier).
- The typos in the rulebook I think of as really annoying. It's not like that there are mases of them, but I feel a bit silly when a player says "ok, so this unit deals 3 damage" and I say "it's a typo, they meant 2", or a player asks "ok, as incoming minions we got... wait, that makes no sense", and I reply "yeah they mean this and that, it's a typo", and so on. It's not a lot of mistakes, but I don't like them. I guess I should go through the rulebook and game sometime and correct them.


3.4 Buy the game if
- you like miniature painting, as you will get a lot of those.
- you are a fan of the computer game and like boardgames too.
- you enjoy coop games and/or tower defense games in general.
- you want a game that can be played in teams of up to four players each again steach other, but that can also be fun with just two players cooperatively.
- well, you just want a good and fun coop game.


3.5 Don't buy the game if
- it's too expensive for you. The game comes with a lot of stuff, and it's not the most expensive game out there, but it's definitely more expensive than the average boardgame.
- you can't also afford adding some of the expansions. If you do enjoy the game and will play it more often, you will really want to have some of those as well.
- you always need clear rules. The reason is that with all those different heroes and minions and abilities and whatnot, you will run into situations where you don't know how something is supposed to work. The rulebook comes with a FAQ, and there is a longer FAQ available for download, but even those won't answer everything. So sometimes you just have to say "yeah, we'll just do it like that now". You have to be flexible in this manner.
- you are low on shelf space. Especially if you buy the entire lot (two core boxes and expansions), the boxes do need some space. The boxes are not as huge as those of, for example, CW, K:DM or SOB, they do still require quite some space.
- you have only a small table and want to play the rivalry mode, as that won't work.


3.6 Rating
According to everything said and based on the three matches I played, I rated the game an 8.
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Geoff ...
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An aspect of the game that we found a lot of fun was the concept of the rotating Rift Lord. Whenever you want to use skulls from the rift, you must ask the Rift Lord's permission. We'd play it up and always refer to the controller by title, eg. "Rift Lord, can I use 3 skulls to buy this trap?". We also honoured the Rift Lord's decision with little to no negotiating. This also helps with alpha-gamer situations, as long as everyone agrees beforehand to abide by the Rift Lord's decisions (which is as per the rules).

The Rift Lord also decides when and how to fire traps (as in, firing order), and decides to which minions hits are applied.

Rotating the Rift Lord means that each player gets their turn in making decisions that affect the group.

Anyways, thanks for the review. Typos aside, OMD is a lot of fun to play. I'm keen to play it now in fact .

EDIT: Grammar.
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Max Maloney
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For what it's worth, having all expansions through the KS, it's easy to consolidate the game into the base boxes. Those are still large, but I didn't need to come up with additional space for expansion boxes in top of that.

The only real concession to make this happen is to divide the bosses between the two sets, but I was happy to do that.
 
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Geoff ...
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I was able to fit the bosses in one set
 
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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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Geoff wrote:
An aspect of the game that we found a lot of fun was the concept of the rotating Rift Lord. Whenever you want to use skulls from the rift, you must ask the Rift Lord's permission.


I agree. It's also in general helpful to have one player who can say "I'm the Riftlord, and we do it now like this!" to end discussions.
 
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Joel Carr
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Do the traps have fun interactions with each other as in the video game? or are they limited? Most of what I liked in the VG was the ability to make crazy trap combinations...
 
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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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B Wumpus wrote:
Do the traps have fun interactions with each other as in the video game? or are they limited? Most of what I liked in the VG was the ability to make crazy trap combinations...


There are multiple ways how traps can interact.
- By adding up icons. For example: two traps on a tile (the maximum number of traps on a tile depends on the number of players and the specific tile) combine their power to take down a stronger minion.
- By using support traps. The game has regular traps, placed on tiles, and support traps, placed between tiles. Support traps have all kinds of effects, some of which make traps in neighboring tiles more powerful, let them shoot into nearby tiles and so on.
- The games rules state that when it's time for traps to fire, you go through the fortress tile by tile and see what happens. I think that this is only a suggestion though, as normally the order doesn't matter, and that if you want to, you can choose the order in which traps fire. That would allow you to have a fling trap fling a minion onto another tile where a trap would kill it. Such interactions haven't happened often in our games, though I'm not sure whether we didn't see it, didn't get the right traps, or whether such events are just rare.

Since the maximum number of traps on a tile is two (plus support traps), I assume that the interaction between regular traps is not that great, but rather the strategic decision on where to place what trap and when to replace one. Also, you only can place traps on the tile you currently stand on, so you have to decide whether to move to the tile you want to place traps at, or rather move to a tile where you'd attack enemies (though, if you stand on a tile where enemies are, you can attack first, and then move to a tile you want to place a trap on).
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Geoff wrote:
An aspect of the game that we found a lot of fun was the concept of the rotating Rift Lord. Whenever you want to use skulls from the rift, you must ask the Rift Lord's permission. We'd play it up and always refer to the controller by title, eg. "Rift Lord, can I use 3 skulls to buy this trap?". We also honoured the Rift Lord's decision with little to no negotiating. This also helps with alpha-gamer situations, as long as everyone agrees beforehand to abide by the Rift Lord's decisions (which is as per the rules).

The Rift Lord also decides when and how to fire traps (as in, order), and decides which to minions hits are applied.

Rotating the Rift Lord means that each player gets to their turn in making decisions that affect the group.

Anyways, thanks for the review. Typos aside, OMD is a lot of fun to play. I'm keen to play it now in fact .


Excellent!

As Sandy has told me, the precise purpose of the Rift Lord is to counteract the alpha gamer phenomenon in co-ops. Glad it works!
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Jason's Good Twin
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Did you find the unchained to be more fun to play than the order?
 
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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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jtabler wrote:
Did you find the unchained to be more fun to play than the order?


I don't think there is that much of a difference.

If I'd have to choose one box, I'd make that dependent on:
- Whether I prefer to play "evil" guys fighting humans, or "good" guys fighting orcs (I prefer playing the "evil" guys in fantasy settings).
- Miniatures: I really like the giants that are part of the unchained version, but apart from that there is not much of a difference there for me. Maybe once I painted the miniatures, and all details are much more noticable, I'll have a stronger opinion. On the other hand, I do remember that I thought of the different orc poses as fun to look at (being more exaggerated with them being orcs), while I don't remember the human poses in particular.
- Tile art: the art on the tiles is in general great, but I prefer the tiles of the order version a bit, since the tiles with the pretty parks and gardens form a nice contrast to the indoor hallways. The unchained tiles are looking nice too, but I prefer stronger contrasts in this regard.
- Hero abilities. I looked at the regular and ultimate abilities of the heroes (rivalry wouldn't matter in this case since then you'd buy both boxes anyways), and decided which ones I liked more. In general, I prefer interactive abilities over passive ones, as they give you additional hero dependent strategic decisions to make. I also prefer rather unique abilities over those that just grant me more dice or something like that. And of course how much fun I consider a heroes abilities to be when I play him. I give each of the two abilities of a hero a score of 1 (don't like it), 2 (it's ok) or 3 (that sounds like a lot of fun). The unchained edition ended up with a score of 16, and order of 13.
The I looked at the hero packs, and rated them the same. Unchained game out with 35, and order with 32. So, in general, in matters of abilities, I'd slightly but not a lot tend towards the unchained edition. This does not take into account the mini of the hero, his weapon abilities (some weapons gain abilities instead of just more dice so are more interesting to use) or the flavor of the hero.
What I disliked about the order hero pack was, that one hero seemed somewhat out of scale and smaller than he should be. What I disliked about the unchained hero pack is, that two heroes are based on the same model (though he has different equipment, clothes and posture, so I guess it's like having two different human characters, which happens all the time).
- Other stuff I didn't pay that much attention to: how different traps, gear and enemy minions are.

So, to sum it up: while I haven't looked at everything, I'd personally tend slightly towards the unchained edition, though this is based on my personal preferences of course. Having both versions, if I play the game often enough, I'll probably alternate between one and the other, or just mix everything.

Edit: another point is of course whether you can use the minis in another game as well. I personally don't, but maybe some people play tabletops where they have an orc or human army of roughly the same scale, where they could make use of the minis.

My personal buy order in matters of importance would be:
1. One core box, and then, according to how much money is left and you are willing to spend:
2. A hero pack, as with it you have three times as many heroes to choose from, increasing the versatility a lot.
3. A boss pack, as it offers a new game element and allows you to manipulate the difficulty of the dungeons more.
4. A minion pack, to increase the number of different minion types you might encounter.
5. The second core box if you want to play rivalry. If you surely don't want to, I'd put a second core box to the lowest priority.
6. Another hero pack.
7. The second core box, if you don't want to play rivalry, just for the new heroes, tile art and enemies.
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Jason's Good Twin
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I would be curious to see if you thought the unchained traps were different enough to also edge it into the "slightly" preferred category.
 
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Fnorbl Fnorblobson
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jtabler wrote:
I would be curious to see if you thought the unchained traps were different enough to also edge it into the "slightly" preferred category.


I've had a closer look at the traps and gear, but didn't do an indepth comparison, as each box comes with more than 40 trap and more than 50 gear cards.

I personally don't see there a huge difference. The order side has a trap that you can buy early on, that generates one skull each turn for your team. That's nice to help teammates out who are low on skulls early on. Then again, it seems that the unchained side might have more cheap gear that generates skulls. In case of doubt, a player should never be too far behind, as can use the skulls of the shared rift pool if the rift lord agrees.

Maybe I'll do an indepth comparison later, but I don't think that the differences are that huge or matter that much.
 
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Orya wrote:
jtabler wrote:
I would be curious to see if you thought the unchained traps were different enough to also edge it into the "slightly" preferred category.


I've had a closer look at the traps and gear, but didn't do an indepth comparison, as each box comes with more than 40 trap and more than 50 gear cards.

I personally don't see there a huge difference. The order side has a trap that you can buy early on, that generates one skull each turn for your team. That's nice to help teammates out who are low on skulls early on. Then again, it seems that the unchained side might have more cheap gear that generates skulls. In case of doubt, a player should never be too far behind, as can use the skulls of the shared rift pool if the rift lord agrees.

Maybe I'll do an indepth comparison later, but I don't think that the differences are that huge or matter that much.


Gotcha, I thought I read somewhere that someone said the Unchained traps have the capability for a few more combos rather than the order's do X damage/kill a thing.
 
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