Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thunderstone - Review

Hey all I'm back.
So before i get to the review I want to say thank you for everyone who visited this site so far despite there only being two other posts up. It certainly made me feel like maybe I have something to say.
                                                            You guys make me smile

So anyway on with the review!

Thunder - Thunder - Thunderstoooooonnnnne HOOOOOOO!

So if you are a gamer and have not heard of this game i suspect you may have been living under a rock or in some sort of internet/phone/telegraph devoid basement. If you have not heard of the game itself you may have heard of the game's genre which is termed "deck building game". Basically the premises of this and other games like it is that each person starts off with a number of generic cards, each player having the same cards. You then utilize your meager deck to acquire other cards that will help you obtain, or are in fact victory points. These games rely on deck cycling  to work ( that is to say when you run out of cards you reshuffle your discard pile into your deck). Then once a certain condition is met the game is over and you go through your deck and count up your victory points and determine a winner!

Thankfully these games (which have become all the vogue) are NOT collectible card games. All the cards you need come in one nice package and then expansions full of other fun cards follow. No chasing down that impossible to find Vesuvian doppelganger for you, not with these games (3rd edition...).

The Game: 
So to date Thunderstone has three expansions, with the third having come out this month. I was fortunate enough to be doing some Super Dungeon Exploring when i noticed it in the "to be received" pile at my hobby store. My friend and i quickly snatcher this up since it had been about 6 months since the last expansion and we had not played in a while.

The goal of this game, of course, is to get as many victory points as you can in your deck. You do this by hunting monsters in the dungeon. The dungeon itself has 3 levels and each level makes the monsters in it more difficult to defeat by way of a light mechanic.

To help you get rid of these menacing monsters the villiage is stocked with 4 random heroes you can hire, 8 unique town items you can purchase and 4 generic, in every game, cards. The heroes can be leveled up with experiance obtained from a monster. Once you do this you sift through the hero pile and get the level 2 hero (or level 3) and put it in your deck. Unfortuantly, once there are no more cards of a given hero or hero level, that guy can no longer be purchased/upgraded.

The items in town are usually weapons, mercenaries, spells, or light sources. These things are given to heroes to help them deal with the deadly monsters in the dungeon.

The game is over when the Thunderstone is revealed and reaches the first level of the dungeon. 

Pretty simple hu? Well its not. It is however A LOT of fun with a huge replay value. I have explained some of the basic principles but if you want an in depth look at the rules check them out here.

The Expansions:
To date there are two expansions. I must say that these are a must for anyone who seriously enjoys this game. They are called Wrath of the Elements and the most recent The Doomgate Legion . These two expansions add some very cool heroes and a great variety of monsters to populate your dungeon. In addition these sets give you a method for playing a campaign as well as traps, treasures and "dungeon features".

The future of the game:
So slated for this February a new stand alone Thunderstone set will be released. Personally i am excited you can find more details and previews of the cards here. It looks to be a pretty impressive set with a few new game mechanics.

My Impressions:
Well lets start off with the good. The good for this may be great. First of all the re-playability of this game is outstanding. You can theoretically never play the same game twice. The randomization of playing elements is wonderful. The game mechanics are great too. With regards to other popular deck building games (such as Dominion) this game is definitely at the top of the ladder. There is no one stratagy that will get you the gold (no pun intended) such as with Dominion. While there is not too much player interaction in the game you really don't notice since you end up being so absorbed in your own options. And options there are aplenty, so many in fact that your brain is gonna strain to figure out how best to operate and build your deck. This, I think, is definitly a plus. Another wonderful aspect of this game is that it is very accessible to people. Someone with limited gaming background can come in and find the game play easy enough and enjoy the experience.

And the bad... Well with most games that release expansion there is a definite power creep going on. Some of the heroes you may draw are positively useless. The game's basic set has a number of these and as much as i try to use them i find that they just suck. Set up and tear down is also a little difficult. AEG did help us players out though, in the expansion set there are some nice card organizers so you don't have to pull your hair out trying to find all the cards you need or put them back in the right order.

The bad aside this game rocks. Its something you can just sit down and play over and over again. Most games my group doesn't even care who wins ( we usually just end up saying "That was an awsome set up let's do it again). The game usually lasts an hour to an hour and a half. All in all id say this game takes away about 7 1/2 stars.

Something from me: 
Here is a fun and challenging set up my group came up with:
Monsters: Golem, Elemental Pain, Dragon, Traps (death)
Heroes: Runespawn, Lorrigg, Reglan, Amazon
Village: Polearm, Warhammer, Goodberries, Soul Jar, Divine staff, Claymore, Lantern, Green Blade
I'm pretty sure that was the set up...

And now because i didn't put any pictures in, some random eye candy!

                                               Bones: he haunts my wife's dreams...

Next week i will be review the pirate game Ron & Bones by the nice folks across the pond at Tale of War Miniatures this will probably be a two part review because i don't think I will be able to get in many games this week.

Till next time - peace out,
Steve (MDX)

PS: please comment with anything you may want to see reviewed. Pretty soon ill start doing painting tutorials or mini reviews (I have a few in mind).

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