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Subject: Decent 2 player game rss

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Ben Albert
United States
Austin
Texas
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My wife recently purchased this game without hearing anything about it beforehand and we were pleasantly surprised by it. The game's theme revolves around 2 warring factions of Minotaur Lords vying for control of Cresus (I think that's how it's spelled).

The game consists of a small rectangular board to represent Cresus, 3 decks of cards, and markers for supremacy and curses. What really stands out is how mechanically deep this game is for basically being just a card game. Here's how it works:

Cresus is divided into Upper and Lower, with each of those being divided in three parts, Economic, Military and Religous. So you have 6 columns to play cards into. To win the game you must control 2 out of 3 of the columns in both upper and lower Cresus. To do this players take turns playing Minions, Buildings and Leaders in each column that have a number for their "strength". The player with more strength in a particular column can excercise supremacy in that column.

Where the game gets complicated in terms of gameplay is that each card alogn with a strength value also has a value for phase. Each turn is broken up into 3 phases 0, 1, 2 and then excercising supremacy. In each phase you have the option of taking a phase X action, where X=0,1,2. Your options are, play a card of that phase, remove a curse counter from a card in play of that phase or execute an action of a card in play of that phase. Here is where you can really mix up your play each turn because there are 3 different phases and each phase you can do 3 different actions, so there are at most 27 ways to play each turn (provided that all options are available to you, which is not always the case).

The thing that makes this game different from most card games is that you do not always draw cards each turn and you are not forced to draw a card each turn. When you have supremacy in Economy you may draw a card. For Military you can make the opponent discard a card from his/her deck and for Relgious you may curse a card in that region. The discarding ability is powerful because the alternative way to win is to make your opponent run out of cards.

Now for my actual review of the game. At first I was not aware of the errata in the rules that changes horde cards in the blue deck from "X = number of horde cards in play" to "X = number of horde cards in that column". This cause the blue deck to be extremely dominant and it was nearly impossible to win with red. Now with the rule change they are nore balanced. At first I thought that the change would be too great and maybe they meant to say "X = number of horde cards in that region" (remember each region has 3 columns). But I think this would still be too powerful for blue. After changing the errata I think the game is definitely more balanced.

This game reminds me somewhat of Magic: The Gathering in that it is only a 2 player game and is primarily a card game. That said, I would say Magic is far superior to this in that it is at least 10 times more complex, maybe even more than that. However, this game does have some really cool mechanics and sometimes a game being simpler is better. For instance, with how complicated Magic is it would take about a month to teach someone all the intricate rules and mechanics, but you could learn this game in maybe 10-15 minutes.

I really like the idea of phases and how they are used here. I also like the cursing of cards. The only thing that bothers me about this game is that the swings are so great. What I mean by that is that it's very hard at any time to tell who is winning. One game I recently played I think I had control of all 6 columns after turn 3 or 4. I was pretty sure I was in a dominant position and that I would win in the next turn or so. My wife took her next turn and took 4 of the 6 columns. So in one turn I went from controlling EVERYTHING to her controlling enough to win. Then on my next turn I was able to take 2 back to have 4/6. But on the her next turn she took 5/6 and I was only able to take back 1 column so she won. I didn't see it coming at all. In my experience of playing the game that happens more often than not. Just when you think you are doing really well the whole game turns on you and all of sudden you're about to lose. I suppose that is a cool feature of that game in that if you play it right you can turn the game around very quickly on someone, it just sucks to be on the losing side of it.

In all, I think this is a fairly entertaining game. I'm not sure how it will hold up over time. I have been playing Magic for about 10 years now and still enjoy it very much, but I'm not sure this game will hold up nearly that long. I wish it was somehow a 3-4 player game. I think it would greatly add to the fun factor. Afterall, part of playing games is the human interaction and socializing factor. But, for a 2 player game this is one of the better ones. Most games that you can play with just two people are pretty lame, but this one is atleast entertaining and takes a good bit of strategy and skill.

-SCORE-
Theme: 7/10
Gameplay/Mechanics: 8/10
Fun: 6/10
Art: 7/10
Strategy: 6/10
*Overall: 6/10 (If this was a 4 player game and just as much fun I might give it a 7 or an 8, but there is only so much fun 2 people can have playing a board game.)
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