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Subject: Thunderstone: A Review By A New Gamer rss

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Aaron Perkins
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When I was in my local game store I happened upon Thunderstone, a deck building game that was Non-collectible. I had played a little Magic the Gathering in high school, so I thought I had some general idea of what a deck building game should be, but now I think have a better definition. I would now consider Magic the be a BUILT deck game, where in games like Thunderstone and Dominion you are required to build your deck as a part of the game play. An element I always hated about Magic was that it seemed like the richest guy always wins, so when I found out a little bit about the mechanics and how it was avoided in this game, I had to pick it up. I didn’t write a review when I bought the base game, and I am already three expansions deep thus far, so I will just try to give you my opinion on many of the different options and components available in the game as a whole.

THEME
The theme of Thunderstone was immediately what jumped of the shelf at me. The theme is a fantasy world that is rich and vibrant, filled with monsters, exotic heroes and treasures of course. This game does have plenty of color, and the mechanics re-enforce the storyline well. I only wish the cards had some small text in the bottom with a little bit of background about the hero or spell, similar to what Magic the Gathering did. I think knowing a small fact about a certain hero, monster or spell would have fleshed the game out even more. Although the theme in the base game is good, it has seemed to improve dramatically from expansion to expansion. In Wrath of the Elements, we were introduced to traps, and Doomgate legion brought us treasures. The element of suspense and danger added by the traps, and the rewards offered by the treasures make the theme more life like (Assuming their were such things in real life). I was playing with a Korean friend of mine, and he even remarked about how much it really felt like he was getting ready for a battle every time he drew a new hand, and I have to agree. The moment you draw your cards, and start equipping heros with weapons and spells to do battle, I think you will feel the same.

PRICE
The price of the base game is roughly 25-30 dollars, depending on how you shop, and each expansion was roughly 20 bucks after that. I think that for that price you are definitely getting a good deal, and for every 20 bucks you spend on it, you will have added a significant amount of detail to the game. I will gladly fork over another 20-25 bucks every time the newest expansion is released, and feel good about it if AEG maintains this level of quality.

QUALITY
The cards in this game are well designed, glossy, and will hold up to heavy levels of play. I do have some concerns about using black borders, (usually meaning they will wear out quicker), but sleeving them will solve this nicely. The boxes for the game have gotten better since the original, and the designer has included some brilliantly designed separators to keep everything organized.

ARTWORK
The artwork of Thunderstone is absolutely amazing, and it is hard to comprehend that one guy was able to make all of it, (until Dragonspire). Jason Engle has got to be the worlds hardest working fantasy artist, and if I were him, I would be very proud to have my name and artwork displayed on this product.

LEARNING
This game can be a challenge to learn, not because it is a very complex game, just because the rule book is absolutely HORRENDOUS! It took me a couple of read throughs, and several forum searches to figure out what was going on. Once one player has picked the game up though, it is a snap to teach others how to play. I have found that even on the first play through, players can understand what they are doing enough to win the game, (something that couldn’t be said about Dominion even though it is a simpler game to teach).

COMPLEXITY
The game starts out at it’s easiest level with the base set, and introduces new mechanics through the various expansions very nicely. I have seen the game growing increasingly complex through each one, and so play time has also increased. Those looking for a simpler game might want to stick to the base set, and if they feel the need for something different add in one or two other sets. Truthfully, I love this games level of detail, and every new mechanic introduced so far has made the game better and better. I am completely excited about Thornwood Siege coming out in June.

INTERACTION
There is not a whole lot of player interaction in this game, and only a few cards truly punish your opponent. This game does feel like you are playing solitaire with other people, but hell who cares if it is as fun as this is. So far everyone I have taught this game to, has had a really good time playing it. There are times you have to think about what your opponent is doing, but this usually only means going up against a monster that you know you can’t beaten just to deny your opponent those points. I will be waiting to see how future expansions change the level of interaction between players, but for me it is a non-issue if the game is strong enough on it’s own, (besides, it is a game about fighting monsters in a dungeon, not another player).

WAITING
The wait time in this game is very short, and if playing with experienced players it seems like it is your turn again before you even finish drawing new cards sometimes. So if you don’t like to wait, you are definitely in luck here. The only time I have even a player take a long time for their turn was in the beginning of their first game when they had to read all the cards in the village before deciding what to buy. After a few turns everyone involved will have an idea what kind of strategy they are going for, and down time will shrink.

LENGTH
The designer claims that the game lasts 45 minutes, but I have found that it usually takes an hour to an hour and a half. The length of the game depends on what type of layout you have, and how new all the players are of course. As for me, it is good to have a card game that lasts over 30 minutes though, and I don’t mind the longer games at all.

RE PLAYABILITY
The level of customization available here is overwhelming, and there are tons of different ways the game can be set up and played out. While the base game might be rather limited in cards, the addition of one or two expansions make the game seem HUGE! I like the fact that I can set out my own custom layouts with only a few seconds of thought, or even use a randomizer like the iThunderstone iphone app. I will most likely be playing this game for the next 10 years, and am curious to see what the future holds for this game. I would rank it’s re-playability among the best there is on the market, and look forward to every game.

OVERALL
I thing that AEG delivered a solid product here, and a game that is not only fun to play, but looks great too. I get a great feeling when I pick up the box with all the expansions in it and feel how incredibly heavy it is. I think this game deserves a place in anyones collection that likes card games with fantasy themes. The production quality is amazing, and AEG really seems to listen to what their customers are saying. I see this product getting better and better, so I would highly recommend it. I rate Thunderstone 7 out of 10 as a standalone game, and 8.5 out of ten with all the current expansions added to it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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Charles Ting
Malaysia
Sibu
Sarawak
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aaronfromatl wrote:

I rate Thunderstone 7 out of 10 as a standalone game, and 8.5 out of ten with all the current expansions added to it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Hell I'd rate it 10/10 if the rules between some of card interactions were more explicitly explained.
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Sids Creations
Australia
Brisbane
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As a solo game, I give it 10/10.
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Salty Skwib
United States
San Miguel
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Should I eat the Cuttlefish and Asparagus or the Vanilla Paste?
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This is the game that actually made me want to buy card sleeves for the first time ever. Unfortunately, I bought them AFTER picking up all the expansions, so sleeving 1500+ cards has been a bit tireseome.
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Black Finn
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Yep ...that could go down as good tactical advice for new players of the game, too Sleeve early and before you buy all the expansions *lol*

A little surprised to see the game rated so low down but I can understand what some people have said about it. Like most games of the type, it does speed up considerably as you get used to it (although we have never played it at anywhere near the speed of Dominion with expansions added.)

The art work is stunning and the game is a must for fantasy lovers who play board and deck builder games. Thanks for the review.
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Aaron Perkins
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The sleeving comment is true, sleeve early, I just sleeved the base game and all expansions.....my fingers hurt
 
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Andrea
Italy
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charlesting wrote:
aaronfromatl wrote:

I rate Thunderstone 7 out of 10 as a standalone game, and 8.5 out of ten with all the current expansions added to it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Hell I'd rate it 10/10 if the rules between some of card interactions were more explicitly explained.


I think Thunderstone has the most clear rules ever. Almost incredible how clear and non-ambiguous they manage to be.
 
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Andrea
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Black Finn wrote:
Like most games of the type, it does speed up considerably as you get used to it (although we have never played it at anywhere near the speed of Dominion with expansions added.)


"It does speed up as you get used to it"...???
Why? Do you really think this is a slow or fiddly games that requires many plays to speed up?
I think is one of the fastest and easiest to grasp card game I've ever played.
 
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Aaron Perkins
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It does speed up with experience, and depending on which set up you play
 
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Andrea
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aaronfromatl wrote:
It does speed up with experience, and depending on which set up you play



There is no need to speed it up. It the fastest game ever!
 
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