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Subject: Serpent Stones: A Cartrunk Review rss

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John Moller
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I had a chance to sit down and play Serpent Stones with Robert Harrington, the game’s designer, at GenCon 2012. It was a fun, fast and strategic two player game.

You are one side of a conflict for the Gods. You command a force of Aztec warriors tasked with competing in combat to honor and please your Gods. This combat is played out over a field of Serpent Stones which dictate your path. Within the field are squares where you play your warriors, attempting to outmaneuver your opponent and get to the other side first. The game is played in three fast paced rounds.

The cards are fairly simple and straightforward. None of them are extremely powerful by themselves. All the cards are very useful. This is always key for me, I hate being stuck with a hand of useless cards while my opponent plays the one power card in the deck that can win the game. Serpent Stones doesn’t offer that. Careful playing balances with random draw to create a pleasant blend of luck and player decisions.

You will draw a card and play a card on each turn, which keeps things simple on the how to play front. Variety comes in the choices you make and the choices made upon you. Card's available in the game include warriors (which play to the field,) attack cards (which play “from a warrior’s position,”) and player oriented cards (which have an affect against you or your opponent.) I found the desire to play all three types of cards in each game I played, so that felt good.

Oh! I almost forgot about the Sacrifice cards. Sacrifice cards are risky, but worth it. They take a turn or three to really make happen, but are definitely worth the risk and wait. They can allow up to three plays on a turn and that ain’t nothing. Three moves on a turn is absolutely killer…but not game winning if you can’t back it up with careful/good card plays. My opponent did a three move turn in the first game and still came up short. He tried again in a subsequent game, but I was able to thwart his plans by making an erratic move he didn’t foresee. Again, cards aren’t what win the game, it’s player decisions.

The one aspect of the game that I really liked was the concept of “powering down” my opponents warriors. When your forces start to collide mid board, some of your attacks will take an opponent’s warrior and “change their allegiance. What this does is break your opponent’s chain of warriors disconnecting them from their throne and power. This makes any warriors on the far side of the break useless. Your opponent will be unable to play attacks or new warriors to that chain until they reconnect with their throne. I really liked this aspect of the game. Your forces must always be connected to your throne. It really increased the strategy…it’s really the heart of the game. This is why it rose above a lot of other games I played over the weekend to become one I can’t wait to play again.

The overall goal of the game is to collect two of the three stones from your opponents throne. This means winning two rounds in a match. Matches are set to played in 3 rounds, starting fresh after a player successfully steals a stone. I won two matches against the designer. I’m still trying to figure out if he threw the matches, but I guess I don’t really care: I had fun and I will not be putting an asterix next to these games.

Serpent Stones has a few days left on Kickstarter and you should consider this game. It’s an awesome and challenging two player game that plays fast and fun.

Serpent Stones is coming to us from Game Salute and Dangermoose Entertainment.
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