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Subject: Tooth & Nail: Factions - scratches that dueling itch rss

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Mark Englehart
United States
San Diego
California
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This seemed like a neat project on Kickstarter, and my daughter thought it looked neat too, which is always a plus, so I thought I'd give it a try. So far, I am very happy with this game.

First off, some props to the company for doing a very good Kickstarter campaign. Many companies could learn from their model -- both in providing a P&P version of the game to backers and in doing the prep-work so the final product was delivered on time. Thank you John, Brit and company!

Components:
This is a card game, so you get cards!
205 good quality poker-sized cards.
-- The cards are gloss - not linen - finish and are similar in quality to Dominion cards and should be about as durable.
-- The artwork is presented border-less; with game-text taking up less than a third of the real estate, you can really appreciate John Ariosa's acrylics (actually that's just a guess, but they look like they were painted with acrylics).

In addition:
-- 6 over-sized, plastic-coated Faction cards,
-- a 3.5" x 5" rulebook on plastic-coated paper with a good-sized, legible font.

The Kickstarter version included the following which are not included in the box's content list:
-- 9 additional Faction cards
-- one sheet with a drafting variant rule-set.
-- six plastic-coated card dividers

All-in-all, great production value for a small-press game.

However, I have to say I'm not thrilled with the box. The box is an unusual size at 3" x 5.25" x 4" deep. It holds all the cards upright, with room on the side for the rulebook and Faction cards. Still, while there is plenty of room for expansion decks, there is no room for additional Faction cards. Maybe it's just my person bias as I usually store my cards on their sides.

Gameplay:
This is a dueling game, much in the spirit of Magic:The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and other CCGs. The object is to force your opponent(s) to draw or discard the last card from their deck.

You start the basic two-player game by each choosing one of the six Factions in the game, taking its Faction Card and deck of 30 cards (five copies each of six different Troops) and shuffling. That's it.

The order of play is rather simple: start your turn by drawing new cards, ready some of the cards you already have in play, then use Action Points to play new cards and to attack your opponent. Each Troop card and each Faction card has text which provide additional unique actions for each Player.

Gameplay itself requires lots of decision making.
-- When playing a card down, you must choose between
-- playing it to your War Zone, where it can use its strength to attack your opponent and discard cards from his deck but can't use its text ability, and
-- playing it to your Command Zone, where it gives you more tactical options and can use its text ability but can't attack.

-- You need to draw cards to be able to field your army, but since there is no defending in this game, not drawing cards is how you protect yourself.

-- Deciding whether to use a special ability now and lose a precious card from your Command Zone, or wait till next turn when you might draw another copy of it.

The game plays very quickly but packs lots of tense and fun decision making into its (actually very accurately stated) 15-30 minutes and generally leaves the players with the "just one more game" feeling that the designers were looking for.

Luck vs Strategy:
This is a card game, so it is heavy on the luck. However, in the basic game there are only six different cards in your deck so having an unlucky draw is a rarity. If you can figure out how to get the special abilities of your Faction to work together faster than your opponent, you will probably win.

Replayability:
With just playing the basic game ten times, I am still eager for more. With six different Factions, each of which has a different feel to play, there are thirty possible match-ups. But there is a world of variation in this small box still waiting for me to explore:

Alliance Variant - I think this is really the way the game is supposed to be played: each player takes two Factions and plays with a 50 card deck (removing 10 after shuffling them together). With this you explore how the different Factions can support each other.

The Dogs of War - A mini-Faction that allows you to augment your deck with cards that have Reaction abilities that are played from hand during your opponent's turn.

Three and Four player games - The three player game is last man standing, with the first player out having a king-maker ability. The four player game is a team game with partners having separate turns but sharing the same 70 card deck.

(Note: the following variants might be Kickstarter only as they are not included in the component list on the box)
Alternate Faction Cards - Each Faction has a second card with different unique abilities.

Drafting Variant - Rules the players demanded! Each player creates a deck by drafting cards from all the Factions. Three additional Faction cards support this variant.

Conclusion:
I like this game. It's quick to play, easy to learn but has important decisions to make each turn and high replayability. If you're looking for something to scratch that dueling card game itch, or a good two-player filler that will leave you wanting "just one more game" this is a good choice.
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Scott Douglass
United States
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I need to get this to the table sometime soon. I tried playing through a game solo, to make sure I had the rules down, and I'm looking forward to trying out a real game.
 
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Greg
United States
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Nice review Mark.

I like the fact that while the game is relatively quick, there are a lot of decisions to make during that short time. As you said, there is some luck as with any card game, but with limited number of card types, the luck factor is limited in the base game anyway where you use only one straight up faction. You will know what you have used and what could be coming and plan accordingly. You can afford to lose a card from your command zone by using its ability because it was the first one that you've seen and you know there will be more coming.

Can't wait to play some more.
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Eagle-Eyed Superhawk
United States
Ann Arbor
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Oh, America, what have you done.
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I quite like the SmallBox Games boxes, myself. They're sturdy, big enough for the unpacked and sleeved games but not full of wasted space, and they do a great job showcasing the excellent card art that SBG has been cranking out lately. I'm thinking of Omen, Hemloch, and Tooth & Nail here. They look really good on my gameshelves.

And great review, by the way.
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Greg
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Lowell
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Quoted from John from a thread I started about the extra space in the box:


Quote:
The bit of extra room in the box is indeed to satisfy sleevers. If you don't sleeve, there is a bit of extra room in the box.

If we end up doing anything more for this game, it will be a standalone game that can be incoporated with Tooth & Nail: Factions, so it would receive its own box.


I haven't sleeved my cards yet and not sure I will as I'm not really a "sleever". But in the meantime, I had a foam block left over from a Thunderstone game and the foam block fits perfectly in the box and takes up most of the extra space without it being tight.

Any other expansions for this game will get its own box, so no need to try to cram in in this one.
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Noway Jose
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Great concise and relatively short review. Love it. Got a good idea of what I Am getting into.

I just pulled the trigger and purchased the game from small box the other day and am impatiently waiting for delivery. Probably going to have to wait for weeks, which SUCKS but thats the cost of living in Canada!

I'm really excited to play this game in all it's glory, sounds exactly what i was looking for.

Does anyone know if the game purchased from small box comes with the drafting variant or did they decide to throw that in there?

if not, is there anyone willing to share the drafting rules and can it be played without the kickstarter edition!?

Cheers!
 
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El Palíndromo
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Lafayette
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Boze wrote:
Does anyone know if the game purchased from small box comes with the drafting variant or did they decide to throw that in there?


I think you're referring to the Alliance variant which allows you to combine 2 different Factions per players deck. If so, I was too late to support the Kickstarter, but I did pre-order my copy and the rules for the variant came in the rulebook.

C.R.E.A.Meeples ninja
 
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Mark Englehart
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Boze wrote:

Does anyone know if the game purchased from small box comes with the drafting variant or did they decide to throw that in there?


Actually I believe he's referring to the drafting variant I mention at the end of my review.

I guess the extra components - rule sheet and faction cards - were not included in the standard production. You would want to contact the producer/designer to find out what the availability of this variant will be.
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El Palíndromo
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Coyote13 wrote:
Actually I believe he's referring to the drafting variant I mention at the end of my review.


Ahh, I think you're right. That's what I get for skimming through that last bit of your review.
If it helps at all, I can confirm that the drafting variant isn't included in the standard edition.
Bummer. Now I'm curious as to how the game plays with this variant. soblue

Edit: spelling
 
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