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Subject: Love at first play (review of vanilla Thunderstone) rss

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Robb Melenyk
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Bellaire
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My phone rang at around 8:30pm by a good friend and a gamer.

"Hello?"
"Just purchased a new game! Wanna play?"
I paused for a second. It was a bit later than usual and our 4 month old was still working on her sleep schedule
"What game did you buy?" I responded flatly.

He yelled into the phone "THUNDERSTONE!".

"Hmm, isn't that like a deck building game like Dominion?". Trying to act cool like I know what the game is about.
"Yea, the lady at the store recommended it and she said we'd love it and there are expansions and.." he started to ramble. Obviously he was excited.

I had heard of the game on a podcast and it was met with negative reviews. Especially because it was compared directly to Dominion and game we really enjoy. I was skeptical.

"Well, I always give games a shot, lets play!"

45 minutes later, we were unwrapping and reading the instructions. The organization was poor. Holy crap. Dominion's perfect slotted box made so much sense. Much more sense than Thunderstone's goofy slightly larger divider cards.

We exchanged dislikes but kept on. After all, THUNDERSTONE.

The rules went slowly. Slower than I expected. Especially since they seemed a bit complex for a game that didn't seem to complex. I mean that whole light issue and the penalty you have in battle. Was that supposed to be that weird? Not to mention the lack of turn cards to tell us what we needed to do! They could have at least provided that! (We found these cards after our first few games).

We exchanged more dislikes but kept on. After all, THUNDERSTONE!!

The cards were handed out, the initial set of village and heroes laid out and the dungeon shuffled. We were ready to go.

We played 1 game that night. The next night, 4 games. The following night, another 4. We took a break. Then played again, 5 games. I played alone. I played with two hands, trying new strategies. I discussed ideas with friends.

It was clear: We were in love. It was Dominion but more. More theme, more strategy, more to do and bottom line, as much fun if not more.

Finally coming up for after after a solid two week binge averaging a few games a night, I told me friend "hey, I like this game!".

Now what is it about this game that triggered so well with the group? Easy answer: THEME. We discovered we loved building a party of heroes, outfitting them to our liking and challenging ourselves with the scary monsters. We liked the loot, the prizes and the satisfaction. We loved thwarting our friends, going to the dungeon and banishing a prized monster while his rag tag group of heroes was stuck dealing with something unexpected. We liked the artwork of the cards, rich with dark fantasy. We enjoyed starting with a group of bumbling militia and forming a power team of Outlanders equipped with spears and lanterns decimating monsters in the most gruesome fashion or magicians and rogues casting huge spells and fireballs, blowing away the competition.

We also enjoyed laughing at each other when our light failed us and the battle was lost, causing the creeper to run back into the dungeon, never to be seen again.

Don't get me wrong, Dominion still hits the table but given the choice, it is indeed Thunderstone. If you are looking for a different spin on deck building and have a soft spot for slaying monsters, give this game a look.

I'll see you in the Dungeon!
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Tristan Hall
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Neat review!
Having started deck-building games with Resident Evil and moving straight onto Thunderstone, I'm wondering if I really missed anything by never playing Dominion? Maybe if it was called Orc Dominion or something...
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Robb Melenyk
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Dominion plays faster and tighter and is a different game. Dominion, imo, is about chaining moves and getting the money out of your deck so you can buy those provinces (common strat). Thunderstone thrives on diversity and timing. Snagging heavy monsters when you can before others is key for me. Several times I was one point short of a kill to lock in my victory. The other players are happy to pick up where I left off. And unlike Dominion, thinning your deck early on is a huge help.

Different strategies on a same deck building idea.

In a way, yes you are missing something playing Dominion but really, play what you want, not want some good on the internet says
 
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Ludovic Roy
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Great review Robb!

I find it sad that all Dominion fans seem to start off with a negative view of Thunderstone. It's a different game. Dominion is a quick card drawing and combo playing game. Thunderstone is a rich and dynamic party building, monster fighting game.

If you liked the base TS, I'd jump right into WotE to get the good dividers, and introduction to Guardians, and Traps. Then keep going release after release. Enjoy!
 
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Robb Melenyk
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Bellaire
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Thanks Luds!

We've been playing some Dragonspire and wow does that change things up. I love Burnt Offerings!

Oh but those traps taught us a good lesson about dungeoning. I'm still in shock I lost both my expensive frost hammers!
 
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Ludovic Roy
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Dragonspire is great! I started with it myself, and after just a few plays and happily discovering that my girlfriend loved it as well, ordered all other releases

Traps are indeed deadly. I still remember losing 2 level 3 heroes due to a trap drawn by an opponent and no one else lost anything other than a level 1 cleric. I was owned that time soblue
 
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Doug Pancoast
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Great review! I like how you made me feel like I was there with you experiencing TS for the first time.

Recently purchased Dominion and so far have only played one game with the wife. We had a blast! However, I've been keeping my eye on TS. So I really appreciate the perspective of your review.

Thanks!

Doug
 
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Robb Melenyk
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Doug

Dominion is great two player but really shines at 3 and 4! Bring in another couple and make a night of it!
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Doug Pancoast
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robbcorp26 wrote:
Doug

Dominion is great two player but really shines at 3 and 4! Bring in another couple and make a night of it!


Thanks for the tip Rob. I'm planning on bringing it to a guy's night tomorrow in hopes of trying it out with more people. I really do like this game!
 
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