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Subject: Pixel Tactics 1 - Red Tablecloth's Review rss

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Ruben Monteiro
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Designer: D. Brad Talton, Jr.
Artist: Fábio Fontes, Maciej Mutwil
Publisher: Level99 Games (and others)


Elevator pitch


Img: Love the NES look of the box.

Pixel Tactics is a quick 2 player (1v1) game with a very heavy hand management mechanism.
Each player has in front of him/her a 3x3 grid where cards can be played. In the beginning of the game, each player chooses a Leader that goes in the center of the grid. This leader provides a unique ability and an amount of health to beat. In all other slots in this grid, players will play Heroes that have their own attack and defense values, and various abilities.
Players take turns back and forward, where they have 2 actions to attack, recruit more Heroes, draw cards, etc.
When a player's Leader loses all of its health, or if a player ever runs out of cards in the deck, the game is over. You'd normally play a best-out-of-three.


What makes it fun?


Img: Very unfortunate to chose Zaamassal Kett and discover that your opponent choose Khadath Ahemusei...

A world of possibilities in 25 cards unique cards, where every single card is EVERYTHING in the game! As mentioned, a card can be a Leader (if you face it upside down at the beginning) and a Hero. Then, depending where in the grid you play that Hero (vanguard, flank and rear) it will have a different ability and these abilities will feed of each other. Lastly, every card can be played from the hand as an Order, which is a one-time action.
This makes it a game where you have a lot of options in every given moment. It also makes it a game where you will have moments that you are on the ropes, but in the very last second you get buy the one card that saves you! Then, soon after, it's your opponent that is on the ropes!
It's a pure tactical game, for sure, but it does provoke moments of "oh! wow! how did you do that?" or "wait, what? That combo is unbeatable!! ... Ah! I beat it!"


What detail blew my mind?


Img: A lot of game in 25 cards!

It's 25 cards' game! Ok, to be fair, is 50, but both players (in the base box) get the same 25 cards. The same 25 unique characters.
Full blown design: only 25 cards. This truly blows my mind! I know there's other (micro) games out there with less cards, but I believe that what you get from these 25 cards is unbeatable.


What I don't like about it?


Img: Not a fan of the foldout rule books. My is ripping apart on the folds, of course.

There's a lot to take in on the table. A lot of text. A lot of information and possibilities.
Even though this was what I mentioned above, as what makes the game fun. However, if you count with all your characters played, and your opponent's, plus cards in your hand. Multiply all these but the fact that each card has a different ability depending on where it's placed, or if played as an Order... I can't even do that kind of math.
This doesn't stop me from playing it. Specially since (and I do this in most of the game) I mostly swing it. I make choices that feel right and fun, and experiment with the game. Purposely avoiding to calculate every single option and permutation.
Nevertheless, I do feel that I'm not "mastering" the game (if even it's possible for it to be mastered). Feel that I'm not playing it to it's full potential. Somewhere in the world, there's a little 7 year old that just reads the matrix and plays this game like a god!


How did my friends reacted to it?


Img: Multi-use cards!

In general I have good reactions to it. People just get fascinated with it.
The theme (War of Indines - also seen in other Level99 games) and mainly the anime-ish art can work against the game. In two ways, either there's a misconception that the game will be cutesy and friendly (if you look for its chibi characters) or you can think that it's a "crazy anime theme" game (you know how anime can be).
In the end the theme is kind of not there. It could be medieval fantasy characters and it would work. But personally, I'm happy they went for a different theme.
On another point, it is luck based. It's a swingy game. Which I'm fine with it, since it's fast (and the fastest that I'm done with this game, the faster I'm trying a new Leader and new combos). However, some players just don't like this level of luck.


Is it a keeper?


Img: I so wish I had the mat for this.

From time to time I juggle with the idea of getting rid of this game. Mainly because it's a 1v1 game, where the objective is to "kill" the opponent. This narrows the possibilities of playing it (my spouse is not the most prone to 1v1 fighting games).
Then I get it back to the table, and again fall in love with it.
With a more regular sprawling partner, Pixel Tactics would jump to evergreen status (I'd love to have the Deluxe version it!).
As it is, it's a keeper, for now.


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Gold Sirius
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xoopams wrote:


The theme (War of Indines - also seen in other Level99 games) and mainly the anime-ish art can work against the game. In two ways, either there's a misconception that the game will be cutesy and friendly (if you look for its chibi characters) or you can think that it's a "crazy anime theme" game (you know how anime can be).
In the end the theme is kind of not there.



Ummmm, what?
I don't know how "anime can be", but the game is pixel art. It's reminiscent of 8-bit video games more than anything.
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Ilan Muskat
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GoldSirius wrote:
xoopams wrote:


The theme (War of Indines - also seen in other Level99 games) and mainly the anime-ish art can work against the game. In two ways, either there's a misconception that the game will be cutesy and friendly (if you look for its chibi characters) or you can think that it's a "crazy anime theme" game (you know how anime can be).
In the end the theme is kind of not there.



Ummmm, what?
I don't know how "anime can be", but the game is pixel art. It's reminiscent of 8-bit video games more than anything.


The 8-bit video games it's drawing from are console JRPGs, which aren't precisely anime, but JRPGs and anime are at least thematically neighbours. Yoshitaka Amano's concept art is the basis for those 8-bit sprites, and he is an anime artist and creator.
 
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Ruben Monteiro
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GoldSirius wrote:
xoopams wrote:


The theme (War of Indines - also seen in other Level99 games) and mainly the anime-ish art can work against the game. In two ways, either there's a misconception that the game will be cutesy and friendly (if you look for its chibi characters) or you can think that it's a "crazy anime theme" game (you know how anime can be).
In the end the theme is kind of not there.



Ummmm, what?
I don't know how "anime can be", but the game is pixel art. It's reminiscent of 8-bit video games more than anything.


Sorry, I used the term "anime" probably in the wrong way. But it's the type of reaction that I get from it: "Is it like the Japanese cartoons?" (Not saying either that all anime is freaky, but saying that people generalize them).
Also, not every one will know JRPGs (or their sprite animations, for that matter), so they react according to what it reminds you.
 
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Alan Castree
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I get what you’re saying about the “Chibi” and “anime” style and am surprised by how many people are turned off of games just because of this aesthetic. I was checking out a game called Tragedy Looper and saw a lot of people dismiss it solely based on the art style.

Something like that may happen a bit less with PT because it is more reminiscent of a video game but I could still see some people not likeingbot because of the art. Link

I love PT (and the online version is looking AMAZING) but for me it’s also the 1v1 and heavy language dependance which prevents it from getting played. Shame... I do have all the sets and deluxe and one way I’m going to try and get it to the table is to have a draft at a gaming event. I think that would be a great way to get people involved.
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Ruben Monteiro
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ACGalaga wrote:
... I’m going to try and get it to the table is to have a draft at a gaming event. I think that would be a great way to get people involved.


Ah! Never considered that. But it should be a fun drafting game.
Please, post it on the forums if that ever happens.
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