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Subject: Review after 3 plays rss

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Nigel Buckle
United Kingdom
Thornton Heath
Croydon
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Omega Centauri Published in 2014
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This card game is marketed as a deck building game - I think this is a little misleading, but it certainly has elements that should appeal to players of trading card games (in particular Magic the Gathering).
I won’t repeat the rules or go into too many game play specifics; you can read the manual here:

You each play a hero (6 different, all with unique abilities) but everyone shares a common card pool to obtain cards for your playdeck as the game progresses.

Unlike other deckbuilding games you do not randomise the available cards in stacks with a subset available for each game. Rather you divide the cards into 4 types - monsters, units, spells, equipment and randomise those, then during the game 4 cards of each type are always available and you select from just those.This makes setup and put away a breeze, unlike other games of this type where you have to sort the cards into individual stacks.

In Heroes of Graxia you have 2 actions in a turn, drawing a new card is an action, attacking a monster or another player's legions is an action, playing a card is an action, etc. However during your turn you can buy as many cards as you can afford (into your discard pile) which isn't an action. At the end of your turn you discard any remaining cards, and then draw a new hand.

You win by having the most victory points - these are gained from defeating monsters and also from killing your opponents units.
Unlike other deck building games, this feels more like a Rochester draft, you have not got unlimited access to all the card types, instead you can pick from the ones available at the start of your turn. This means you have to adapt your game as you play, rather than work out how you are going to build your deck for this game and then do it.

This game has significant player interaction - the game actively encourages you to attack your opponents through the way victory points are collected and the bonuses to player vs player combat many items and spells give.

There is a definite learning curve, the temptation is to buy as many cards as you can afford each turn, but I suspect this is sub-optimal play, unless they are all cards that give you victory points. There is currently no way to remove cards from your deck - defeated units go to your discard pile, but there is one spell that allows you to steal a spell from your opponent as they cast it.

I like it, but the game is not perfect. You will find yourself adding up attack and defence numbers all the time, are you strong enough to kill that monster, how much damage will it do to you, what values your opponents have, how the spells and mercenaries in your hand will alter combat. This can get bit tiresome, especially as the values get large in the mid to end game, and asking your opponent what their values are is a signal you are considering attacking sometime soon. Possibly this can be overcome with a player aid tracking the values for each player and updated each turn.

Multiplayer can be vicious, and players need to be careful they are not setting up an opponent to win, for example you attack one opponent leaving yourself damaged and weak to an attack from a 3rd. To stop ganging up each player can only be attacked once per round, once you have your turn you are then eligible to be attacked again - this means if you are badly damaged by an attack you may not have enough cards/actions to fully recover leaving you vulnerable to another attack by a different player. The game requires the players to ensure they don’t help another player too much.

Overall, it is a game that will stay in my collection and I expect to see being played regularly. If your gaming tastes include Magic the Gathering or similar CCGs, and are looking for a non-collectable card game with a strong drafting mechanic and don’t mind adding up values repeatedly during a game I’d recommend this one.

A version of this review was first posted on Boardgameguru

Edit -

A further difference to other 'deck building as you play' games is the monsters you kill (for victory points) and the prestige you gain (from attacking opponents) go in a seperate pile, rather than your deck and the cards you can buy that have victory points are usually quite powerful, you do not get the effect of your hand clogging with 'useless' (victory point scoring) cards as the game progresses.
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Stefano Castelli
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Quote:
Multiplayer can be vicious, and players need to be careful they are not setting up an opponent to win, for example you attack one opponent leaving yourself damaged and weak to an attack from a 3rd. To stop ganging up each player can only be attacked once per round, once you have your turn you are then eligible to be attacked again - this means if you are badly damaged by an attack you may not have enough cards/actions to fully recover leaving you vulnerable to another attack by a different player. The game requires the players to ensure they don’t help another player too much.


This is the main reason I have not appreciated my first play.

Good review.
 
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Ender Wiggins
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Thanks for the review Nigel. I think you make a good point here:
Quote:
Multiplayer can be vicious, and players need to be careful they are not setting up an opponent to win, for example you attack one opponent leaving yourself damaged and weak to an attack from a 3rd. To stop ganging up each player can only be attacked once per round, once you have your turn you are then eligible to be attacked again

I think that the rule that protects players from ganging up against each other is a good one. How often have you played the game, Nigel, and how well do you think that the player versus player combat has been implemented? In our experience it's not always a good choice to attack unless you can do enough damage to wipe out your enemy's entire team - as a result, players aren't in a position to attack until someone has enough firepower to wipe out a complete legion - which ends the game, which is game-ending and game-winning. How does this compare with your experience with the game?
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Nigel Buckle
United Kingdom
Thornton Heath
Croydon
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NSKN are publishing my next game :)
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Omega Centauri Published in 2014
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Depends a bit on what characters people are, and the personality of the players!

Also what items/spells and henchmen etc appear early on,along with which monsters. Some games I've seen minimal PvP, others it happens quite a bit.

Main drawback I'm seeing with the game is tracking the attack/defence of everyone, it's fine with 2 or 3 players, but more than that and you get people asking "what is your defence now?" again and again.
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