Kristen McCarty
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I admit, I never saw myself as a player of CCG's or even living card games. The expense was probably the biggest drawback to me. There's always more and it is oh so tempting to buy those new cards with new abilities and new characters. But my defenses have broken down and I am started to see past the "must have expense" of these cards and are seeing the value and the fun factor of the games themselves. Glory of the Three Kingdoms is definitely one of these games. I'm very excited about this game in its last few days on Kickstarter. So if you are reading this head on over and pledge on this wonderful new living card game.

Goal of the Game:


Glory of the Three Kingdoms (GOTK): Guandu Core Set is a two player, battle driven, Living Deck Building Game (LDBG). Each player starts with a unique starting deck of 12 cards and acquires addition cards from the province during the game to build and customize his/her deck of cards.

GOTK is battle driven card game in which players strategically deploy hero, unit and item cards into the battlefield during battle actions and engage in a confrontation. In the Guandu Core Set, the type of battle engaged in is called clash. The victor of each clash takes a glory token from the opponent and may also capture the opponent’s hero.

When a player takes all the glory tokens from his/her opponent, he/she wins the game, immediately, by a total victory. Other than achieving a total victory, when two out of four province decks are depleted, or a player acquires six or more tiger tallies, the game ends and player with the highest victory points wins the game. In case of a tie, the player with the most tiger tallies wins. If there is still a tie, both players share the glory.



Note: Source of Victory Points:

1) Province Cards - (such as tactics and gold cards in Guandu Core Set) that have victory points in the lower right corner.

2) Tiger Tally - the first pair of tiger tally cards is worth 2vp, two pairs are 5vp and three pairs are 10vp.

3) Unit - every 5 unit strength of a unit type is worth 1vp. For example, a total of 5 footman unit strength is 1vp, a total of 6 archer unit strength is 1vp, and a total of 12 pikemen unit strength is 2vp.

4) Glory tokens - each Glory token is worth 2vp.

Components & Set-Up


Starting sets are similar for both houses. Both Cao Cao and Yuan Shao start with 12 cards. There will be five hero cards, four gold cards, and 3 Unit cards. Each player also receives the player aid for either Cao Cao or Yuan Shao.

There are 64 Province cards. Included in the province cards are 8 Tactics cards, 7 Item cards, eight gold cards, eight Tiger Tally cards, and thirty three Unit cards

There are also eight six sided dice used to indicate the basic strength and extended strength of unit groups; and six glory tokens.

Setup – Player Area:


1) Each player selects a faction and takes the twelve starting cards and one player aide card of that faction. The number of starting cards may increase when playing with faction expansion cards.

2) Each player takes three glory tokens and four six-side dice.

3) Each player shuffles his/her starting cards face down to form a player deck then draws five cards from the top as his/her starting hand cards.

4) Each player rolls two dice, the player who rolls the highest number is the starting player. If it is a tie, roll again.



Setup - Province:

Shuffle the remaining cards face down and divide them into four decks of 15 cards each. Remove the remaining cards from the game. The number of remaining cards will increase when playing with expansion province cards. The Hero Pile is not used in the Guandu Core Set.

After placing four province decks in the middle of the table, reveal one top card on each province deck, from left to right. When a card with a sorting symbol (three down arrows on the right) is revealed, immediately place it in its province pile and reveal the next top card of the province deck. In the Guandu Core Set, there are four types of province cards that have sorting symbols: footman, pikemen, cavalry and tiger tally cards.

- If the next top card also has a sorting symbol, continue the sorting process until a card is revealed without a sorting symbol.

- Each province pile can hold up to three cards. If the pile has reached its maximum number of cards, the card with a sorting symbol must stay on top of the province deck.

When all four province decks have one face up card on top, the game begins.



Glory Begins:

The Starting player takes the first turn of the game, they are also called the active player.

There are three turn phases each turn:

1. Province
2. Actions
3. End

Turn Phase 1 – Province


(Skip this phase in the first turn of the game.)

If all top cards of the province decks are facing up, the active player must first trash one or two face up cards in the province (both province decks and province piles).

If one or more top cards of province decks are facing down, exam all province decks from left to right.

- If there are face up cards with a sorting symbol, begin the sorting process.
- If the top card is facing down, reveal the card and begin the sorting process, if necessary.

When all province decks have one face up card on top, continue to phase two.



Turn Phase 2 – Action

The active player may take up to four actions per turn in the following order:

1. Standard Action - optional
2. Standard Action - optional
3. Battle Action – only available AFTER first two rounds
4. Standard Action – only available if the active player completes the battle action - optional

When a player’s deck is depleted during the game, reshuffle the discard pile to form a new player deck immediately. Note: the discard pile is different from the play area.

Standard Action – When taking a standard action, players can either (1) play the standard ability of a hand card, or (2) acquire/buy one face up card in the province, except tiger tally.

(1) When playing standard ability of a hand card, follow the instructions on the card and place the hand card in the play area. If the card has a gold value (not the cost of the card), it is ignored.

Example: The Longbow item cards standard ability is to "Draw one card" and the owner may buy one archer card. It also has a gold value of 2.

(2) When buying a face up province card from province (decks and piles), pay the exact amount or higher (of the cost in the upper right corner) with one or more hand cards gold value then place the hand cards and the target card in the play area.

- If there are two or three cards in one province pile, the player may buy any one of them.
- Extra gold spent is wasted.
- Players may purchase two or three tiger tallies per standard action.




Battle Action
– In Guandu Core Set, the type of battle players engage in is called Clash. There are five phases in a clash: (1)Declaration, (2)Martial, (3)Formation, (4)Engagement, and (5)Resolution.

Each player may play no more than one tactic card from their hand per phase. If both players want to play a tactics card at the same time, the active player must play it first. Once the defending player reveals his/her tactic card, the active player cannot play a tactics card in that phase.

(1) Declaration. The active player places a hero hand card in the battlefield and chooses an opponent to declare a Clash. If the target player surrenders, the active player takes one glory token from the opponent and the turn ends immediately. If target player chooses to defend, continue to phase 2.

- If active player does not have a hero card on hand, he/she cannot take the battle action.

(2) Martial – The attacker (active player) draws three cards from his/her deck. If the defender (target player) does not have hero and unit cards on hand, he/she reveals their hand cards, then draws until they have at least one hero and one unit card. The defending player takes all card(s) drawn and places them in his/her hand.

(3) Formation – There are four steps in formation phase and both players take these four steps simultaneously.



1. Each player deploys a number of hand cards face down into the battlefield.

- The attacker may play one item card and two unit cards. If one or more of the unit cards can be classified as a veteran unit, the player may play another unit card of the same unit type. The attacker’s hero card is kept facing up.

- The defender may also play one item card and two unit cards. If one of the unit cards can be classified as a veteran unit, the player may play another unit card of same unit type. The defender must also play one hero card face down. Each hero has one or more veteran unit status. For example, Cao Cao has veteran footman and cavalry unit status.

2. After deployment, both players reveal all cards deployed.

- If a player doesn’t have any unit cards in the battlefield, he/she loses the clash immediately and follows the instruction in the resolution phase.

-If both players don’t have a unit card in the battlefield, Clash ends immediately in a tie, and the turn ends immediately.

3. Players group all of their units by unit type.

4. Players then use a die to indicate the basic strength of each unit group then use another die to indicate the extended strength of the group.

1. Basic Strength – Basic strength is the sum of the strength of all unit cards within the group. If the number is higher than the hero’s leadership value, then use the hero’s leadership value as the basic strength.

2. Extended Strength – Extended strength is a sum total of the value accumulated from hero, unit, item and tactic cards’ battle abilities.

3. For Example, the attacking player declared a clash by playing Cao Cao hero card.

a) During the formation phase, the player placed Footman 2 and Cavalry 2 face down in the battlefield. Because all footman and cavalry lead by Cao Cao become veteran units, the player placed another unit card (Footman 3) face down in the battlefield. The defender also deployed his/her cards.

b) Both players revealed all face down cards on the battlefield.

c) Both players grouped his/her units by unit type. From the following cards in the example, Cao Cao is leading two groups, one cavalry group of one unit card and one footman group of two unit cards.

d) Both players Indicated basic and extended strength of each unit group. From the above cards in the example:

- Cavalry group has a basic strength of 2 and no extended strength. Cavalry’s total strength is 2.

- The sum of footman’s strength in the footman group is 5. However, the footman group only has a basic strength of 4 because Cao Cao has a leadership value of 4 (value in the diamond). The footman group also has an extended strength of 1 because Cao Cao has a battle ability of Footman str +1. Therefore, the footman’s total strength is 5.



(4) Engagement – The attacker chooses one of his/her group to engage.

- If attacker chooses archer, they also choose which one of the defending group to receive the attack.

- If attacker doesn’t choose a defending group, the defender chooses which one of his/her groups to defend. If attacker chooses cavalry, they also choose a defending footman or cavalry to receive the attack.

- If attacker doesn’t, or cannot choose a defending group, the defender chooses which one of their groups to defend.

- If attacker chooses footman or pikeman, the defender chooses which one of his/her groups to defend.

- After engaged groups, one attacking group and one defending group, are determined, continue to phase 5.

If tactic card is played, adjust the strength accordingly.

If both players do not have any unit cards at end of the engagement (due to tactics card’s battle ability), the clash ends immediately in a tie, and the round ends immediately.



(5) Resolution

- Compare the total strength (corrected basic + extended strength) of engaged groups.

- If the total strength of the attacking group is equal or higher than the defending group, the attacker wins. Otherwise, the defender wins.

- The victor takes a glory token from his/her opponent. If the attacker wins, they also take any one face up card from the province (deck and pile) and place it in the play area, as an extra bonus.

- The attacker moves their cards in the battlefield to the play area and continues to take the fourth action.

- At the same time, the defender moves their cards in both the battlefield and play area to the discard pile and then draws 6 cards into their hand.

- If there is a tie the active player’s turn ends immediately. The defending player moves his/her cards in both battlefield and play area to the discard pile then draws until 6 cards are in hand.

Turn Phase – End:

The active player takes the following actions in exact order:

1. Play Area – Place Tiger Tally under player aid card and remaining cards in the discard pile.

2. End Game - If any player has six glory tokens, the game ends immediately, or if the active player has six or more Tiger Tally or two center decks are depleted, the game ends when the last player finishes his/her turn.

3. Refill – If the game does not end, draw up to five cards to your hand from your player deck.

4. After phase 3, the opponent player continues with a new turn.



Game End and Winning the Game

When a player takes all the glory tokens from their opponent, that player wins the game immediately.

However, if game ends under one of the following two conditions, the game continues until the last player finishes their turn. In either case, the player with the highest victory points wins the game.

1. When two center decks are depleted, or
2. When a player acquires six or more tiger tallies.

In case of a tie, the player with most tiger tally wins the game. If there is still a tie, both players share the glory.

Scoring

Each Player accumulates victory points from the following cards in his/her hand, player deck and discard pile.

1. Province cards (such as tactic and gold cards in Guandu Core Set) that have a victory point value in the lower right corner.

2. Tiger Tally - First pair of tiger tally cards are worth 2vp, two pairs are 5vp and three pairs are 10vp.

3. Units - Every 5 unit strength of a unit type is worth 1vp. For example, a total of 5 footman unit strength is 1vp, a total of 6 archer unit strength is 1vp, and a total of 12 pikeman unit strength is 2vp.
Glory tokens - Each glory token worth 2vp.

Video Overview

There is a wonderful overview of game play that the designer Ta-Te Wu has posted. You can see Part 1 here:



Part 2:



Kickstarter Bonuses

There are a lot of Kickstarter stretch rewards with one already being met. Here are the Kickstarter rewards:



My Thoughts

I was really excited when I received the prototype for Glory of the Three Kingdoms. I've enjoyed many of Ta-Te's games but this was completely different from his other games I have come to love and enjoy.

I first love the artwork and theme of the game. The pictures we have been shown so far are outstanding. I'm very excited about the three new player mat choices because I absolutely love the one you see here. I also like the theme. I've been learning more the story of the Three Kingdoms and enjoy the connection between this history and the game. The cards nicely reflect the history, technology and fighting style of the Three Kingdoms and Cao Cao.



Their historical strengths and weakness are reflected. For example, the Yuan Shao faction was known for its strong military and great wealth. So, Shao’s starting units have a higher strength value than Cao Cao’s and many of their faction’s abilities have to do with gold.

Cao Cao was known as a clever tactician. Winning with Cao Cao depends on the player having a good combination of units and tactics. The player needs to know when to attack and defend. Because of this the designer has said Shao is the easier unit to play, as a new player, but anyone will enjoy the challenge of Cao Cao's tactics.

Factions coming in later expansions will add others strengths and abilities based on their history. I'm excited for the possible combinations with all the factions. I'm not sure who my favorite will be but I have enjoyed playing as Cao Cao so far, even if I usually lose.

Set up and game play is fast and fun. I like the mix of deck building and battle. Because of the way cards are drawn the same cards are never available to the players. This means players must play a tactical game; and be aware what cards the other player is buying. Some of the cards available for the province decks are pretty powerful. You also must be aware of your hero's strengths and weakness when battling and purchasing cards. If your hero gets a bonus with cavalry you may want to focus on that. Otherwise it may be difficult to attack and even defend.

Battle can be confusing when you first play, but watching Ta-Te's overview will really help you understand. It also gets more intuitive the more games you play.

This learning curve is another plus for the game. You get better the more you play and that keeps the game interesting. As you get to know the cards, as you get to know the strengths and weakness of your faction you will gain a deeper understanding of the game. This does mean newer players are at a disadvantage. Letting them play with an easier faction will allow them to gain confidence and a chance to learn the game without crushing them.

I'm excited for Glory of the Three Kingdoms and can't wait to see what else will come out for this game.

Quick Stats:

Designers: Jerry Gu, Monica Liang, Ta-Te Wu
Artist: Foresight Design
Publishers: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Players: 2
Game Length: 30-60 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Mechanics: Deck / Pool Building, Hand Management

Photo Credits: Martijn Althuizen (Martinus), mazout mazout (mazout), Ta-Te Wu (tatewu)

Thanks for all the great pictures!

Check out more of my reviews at: A Game Built for Two (and sometimes more) Game Reviews
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Graham Smallwood
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TWO Equals in an "if" statement!!!
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Sold! Sounds like what I liked about L5R Diamond. Just let me click... wait. No link? Three pages of ad and no link to the kick? I have to do _work_ for my impulse buy? But then there is a danger I'll get distracted before ooh cows!
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Kristen McCarty
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Dorque wrote:
Sold! Sounds like what I liked about L5R Diamond. Just let me click... wait. No link? Three pages of ad and no link to the kick? I have to do _work_ for my impulse buy? But then there is a danger I'll get distracted before ooh cows!


No worries for all your impulse needs:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tatewu/glory-of-the-thre...
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Ta-Te Wu
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Thank you Kristen for the awesome review!
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The illustration looks very similar to art assets from Dynasty Warriors . . .
 
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Kevin Lim
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broken clock wrote:
The illustration looks very similar to art assets from Dynasty Warriors . . .


As a Chinese person, I can confirm that the art style is very 'Chinese'.
 
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