Game Buzz: Tricksters of Land, Air and Sea

Today, we’re going to take a look at two games that I missed with last week’s Kickstarter Blitz.  We’ll start with

image by BGG user sydstar
image by BGG user sydstar

Trickster: Champions of Time is a game from designer Daniel Solis that is being published by Action Phase Games and their parent company, Indie Boards & Cards.  The game is for 2-6 players and takes about half an hour to play.  It’s a trick-taking game where different champions compete to become the greatest Trickster in the multiverse.

Trickster comes with 70 Hero cards and a Trickster token.  The cards are divided into ten different champions in seven different colors (suits).  There’s an additional optional expansion that includes 49 more cards.  You’ll need your own method of keeping score.  At the start of each game, you will choose seven heroes to use, and shuffle all of these cards together to form a 49-card deck.  For your first game, it is suggested that you use the Brigand, Guard, Magician, Nomad, Peddler, Soldier and Upstart.  You’ll deal six cards face up into an area on the side, known as the Trash.  You’ll then deal each player 8-11 cards (depending on the number of players).  Each player will then choose a card and simultaneously play it in front of themselves into their Tableau.  The center of the table is kept clear for now, and is known as the Pot.

One player (the oldest for the first trick) takes the role of The Leader, and the player to their left takes the role of The Trickster.  The Leader plays any card from his or her hand and resolves the effect shown on the bottom of the card.  The Trickster then plays a card from his or her hand, resolving the effect.  Other players then must follow the pattern set by The Trickster.  If The Trickster followed suit, all other players must follow suit.  If The Trickster matched the character, all other players must match the character.  If The Trickster did not match suit OR character, no one may match any attribute of any played card.  If you can play, you must, and if you can do a character’s ability, you must.

A trick ends when one player cannot play (he takes all of the cards that have been played this trick) or when all players have played (The Trickster takes all of the cards from the trick).  A round ends when one or more players have no cards left in hand, at which point all players with cards in their hand must play them into their Tableau.  You’ll then score the round, counting the cards you collected (ignoring any suit where you got the majority of cards)  A game ends after three rounds, and the player with the lowest score wins.

image by BGG user sydstar
image by BGG user sydstar

Like Hearts, No Thanks, and Parade, this is a point avoidance game.  It’s a trick-taking game in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s not necessarily full tricks that you’re taking.  It’s interesting to me that the Tricksters set the pattern – it’s not just a question of following suit.  The different special abilities of the characters intrigue me as well, especially since you can customize the deck every game.  It seems like a really unique product, and it’s definitely on my radar to look into deeper.

If you’re interested in backing Trickster, you have until February 16.  The base game is $19, and you can also get The Grand Gambit expansion if you pledge $28.

image by BGG user mgcoe
image by BGG user mgcoe

Heroes of Land, Air and Sea is the latest collaboration between designer Scott Almes and publishers Gamelyn Games, and the first that doesn’t have Tiny Epic in the title.  The game is for 2-6 players and takes 60-90 minutes to play.  It’s a 4X style board game where different fantasy races are battling it out to become the most dominant.  It’s certainly not tiny, but it is epic.

The core game of Heroes comes with four different factions, though you can get extra Faction Packs to bring that up to six.  Each faction consists of a Capital City sheet, 12 Peons, 5 Warriors, a Brute Hero, a Rogue Hero, a Mage Hero, a Water Construct, an Air Construct, a Capital City, 3 Towers, a VP marker, a deck of 7 Tactic cards, and two action tokens.  There are also enough Mana, Ore, and Food tokens for each player (plus one for Tax), a Map board, 48 Spell cards, a First Player token, 66 Land Exploration tokens, and 12 Sea Exploration tokens.  Players get all components of their faction (humans, orcs, elves or dwarves in the core set), and start with two Peons and a Warrior in their Courtyard on their Capital City sheet.  You start with two Ore, two Food, and two Mana (marked on a track), and each player will place their Capital City on one of the six islands that is not yet occupied but connected to an island that is occupied.  Randomly distribute the land exploration tokens to the occupied islands (unoccupied islands won’t be used in the game), and randomly distribute sea exploration tokens to the sea spaces (all of these will be used).  The extra resource tokens are randomly placed on the 2-3-4 spaces of the Tax table.

image by BGG user mgcoe
image by BGG user mgcoe

Heroes is played over a series of rounds.  To start each round, players will take turns taking one action each, marking it with their action token so they know they cannot take the action again that round.  This will go around the table twice so that everyone has taken two actions.  There are two types of actions – Capital City and Conquest.  Here are the Capital City actions:

  • Recruit: Get new units. Simply pay the cost and add them to your Courtyard, or in the case of vessels, add them to the space on the board.
  • Build: Construct a new building, upgrade your Capital City, or build a Tower.
  • Research: Draw three new Spells and keep the ones you want (up to the current level of your Capital City).
  • Tax: Take the number of one resource shown on the Tax chart.  Then rotate the tokens so that the next person to do this action will get a different number of resources.

Capital City actions may be followed.  In other words, once you do an action, the other players may also do the same action by placing a Peon in that spot on their own board.  That Peon is then unavailable for any other actions for the rest of the round.  Now here are the Conquest actions:

  • March: Move a group of units from one space to another, using the slowest movement value in that group.  You must stop if there are enemies in the space.  There are two March action spaces, so you could do this twice.  When you stop, you may reveal any exploration tokens there and gain the benefit.
  • Sail: Move a sea vessel.
  • Fly: Move an air vessel.
  • Cast: Play a spell card, pay the cost, and take the action.

You can rally after taking a Conquest action by moving a Peon to an open action space.  This gives you an extra action for the turn.

If you end up in a space with an enemy, that triggers a War.  Each player involved chooses a Tactic card, and then add up the strength of their units, abilities, and tactic.  If you win the battle, you must pay for the Tactic card you used, and you now occupy the space.  Your enemy loses half of their strength and sends the remaining units back to their Capital.

After all players have taken their two actions, you produce resources in each space you occupy.  Each Peon in the space that can occupy a resource spot also produces a resource.  Towers allow you to produce two additional resources.  You then pass the first player marker and retrieve all action markers and Peons from action spaces.

The game can end in one of four ways:

  • Exploration: All exploration tiles have been revealed.
  • Expansion: A player has all available Peons and Warriors in the game.
  • Exploitation: A player has built all three of their Towers.
  • Extermination: A player has defeated another player’s Capital City.

After the end game is triggered and a final round, you score everything and see who won.

image by BGG user tadej1986
image by BGG user tadej1986

This is probably the most ambitious project Gamelyn has attempted so far.  It does kind of go back to the origins of the Tiny Epic series, as Tiny Epic Kingdoms was also a sort of 4X game (really more like 3X).  And I do kind of see shades of that game here.  However, this one is much more sprawling, and does include that fourth X (exploration).  I’m not a big fan of fighting in games, and so that aspect does turn me away a little bit.  Also, the theme is fairly generic fantasy.  But Scott Almes and Gamelyn do have a really good reputation, so we’ll see how this one pans out.

If you’re interested in backing Heroes of Land, Air and Sea, you have until February 24.  The core game without miniatures will cost $60, and you can pay $100 for the core game with unpainted minis.  For $125, the minis can be painted.  And of course, you can add on Faction Packs to further upgrade the experience – you can get painted minis and two Faction Packs for $220.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!

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