Tag Archives: Card game

Aventuria: Adventure Card Game

Aventuria : Adventure Card Game. Ulisses Spiele, 2017 (English edition). Designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach. 4 Heroes, each with 1 Hero and 1 Skill card, 30 Action cards, a Life Point counter, and a Hero marker; 1 Starting Hero token, 4 6-sided and 4 20-sided dice; 50 Henchmen, 29 Adventure, 14 Reward, and 29 special cards; 1 pad of Hero documents, 70+ tokens (Life, Adventure, Time, and Doom), and a 24-page Rules and Adventure book. 1-4 players (1-6 possible with expansions). Ages 14+. About 1 hour per Act.

In Aventuria each player assumes the role of a hero, represented by a 30 Action card deck and a Hero card. The four core heroes include: Arbosh the dwarven smith, Layariel the elven scout, Carolan the half-elven rogue, and Mirhiban the Tulamydian mage. The Heroes’ cards represent weapons, spells, armor, equipment, talents, and advantages that can be used in combat to defeat opponents.

Each Hero is very different, for example Arbosh the Dwarf blacksmith has a lot of armor, where Carolan the Rogue has less armor but a much better chance to Dodge. Cards are thematic and allow Heroes to excel in their differing areas of expertise. For example, Arbosh’s Ox-Herd weapon (a multiple headed flail) does huge damage, but subtracts from close combat skill due to its difficulty to handle. To use it effectively, it would be wise for Arbosh to improve his close combat skill by using his Talent “Warfare” first.

The game comes with 4 pre-built decks, one for each hero, making it quick and easy to get started right out of the box. There are also build-your-own-deck rules if you wish to experiment with other possibilities. The cards are black edged, so be prepared to sleeve your decks or see the edges quickly show chipping.

The rules are very well organized and clear. Action cards might be black or red bordered, being “permanent” (staying in play) or “one-off” (having an effect then discarded); and are either played during your turn (white circle with black number for cost) or as a “Free Action” (black circle with white number for cost) during someone else’s turn. Every card has specific iconography and text that defines how the card is used. In a world of confusing card play, the clarity in Aventuria is amazing.

Dice introduce the element of chance, with a 20-sided die being used to roll “tests”, including combat, where you roll the die against your Hero’s numeric skill; equal to or less than succeeding, greater than failing. Damage is done using the 6-sided dice. The system includes Critical Successes (on a 1, draw a card) and Critical Failures (on a 20, discard a random card).

The luck element can be mitigated by several means. Players can improve their chances by increasing their Heroes’ skill levels, playing cards that gain modifiers, or cards that allow rerolls. Whenever an attack roll fails, players gain a Fate Point which can be turned in on a later test for a reroll, or to draw a card, or to gain an “Endurance” (the game’s resources used to purchased cards and activate effects).
The game provides two modes of play: the Duel (PvP) and Adventure (Solo and Cooperative).

Players are encouraged to play the Duel mode first to learn how the combat game plays, and their hero’s specific cards work. In Duel mode, the opponents are other players in either a one-on-one combat or team melee to the last man standing.

Every hero’s deck is very different and play styles feel thematic and unique. And yet, they also seem fairly balanced. During the Duel, players attack each other, performing up to 1 Ranged, Close, and Magic attack per turn, until there is only one Hero remaining.

But before a Hero can do anything, he must have Endurance. At the start of their turn, after drawing 2 cards, you can play 0-2 cards from your hand face down to become part of your Endurance pool. Endurance cards and then exhausted to pay the cost to place cards from your hand into play or activate effects on cards in play.

This system requires players to make some really hard choices. Do you keep that Ox-Herd major weapon in your hand or put it face down as Endurance? At a cost of 9, it will be many rounds become you can afford to play it, so maybe it’s better to keep cards you can pay for now and put Ox-Herd down as Endurance, but if it’s later in the game and your Endurance pool is large, it’s probably better to keep it instead. And then of course there are also cards that can allow you to draw back a card you previously placed in Endurance. Hard choices you have to make every turn.

The Combat system really shines. Every turn your Hero will be able to attack since even her starting card has a basic attack on it. However, most attacks have an Endurance cost to invoke. So you have to decide between cards that are all important while you have just a limited budget of Endurance cards to pay for them plus any effects from cards in play.

Do you use your Endurance to play a card raising a skill? Or a new weapon? Or armor? Or a special effect? Or to cast a spell? Or to heal? Or do you keep some Endurance so you can play one-off defensive cards during your opponent’s turn? Or… Your decisions will define your Hero and ultimately how the game plays out.

Once you’ve played a few Duels and come to understand the game play and what cards are in your Hero’s deck, you’re ready for an Adventure!

In the Adventure mode, having selected heroes, you start off by reading a few paragraphs that both outline the story and provide several challenges, whose results will define some of the parameters for your upcoming combat.

Each Adventure is divided into Acts, either 1 Act “short” Adventures, or full Adventures of 3 Acts. Each Act includes the narrative tests plus setup instructions for using Henchmen and Leader cards, as well as specialized adventure cards, to challenge the heroes who must band together cooperatively to defeat them.

Once setup, you return to the game’s Combat system, only this time your opponents are the enemies the Adventure sets before you. In an Adventure, not only do you have the choices about how to spend your Endurance in Combat, but you also often have other Adventure-related effects that require Endurance in order to advance your quest. Another call on your limited resources, requiring judgement as to how best to balance it all in order to win.

The Time Scale cards provide four levels of difficult and act as a timer to various effects that will challenge players the longer they take. The Henchmen and Leader cards have personalized charts on each card that randomize what that opponent will do on their turn, ensuring that you’ll never quite know what the enemy is going to do on their turn. While you might know you’re facing Pirates, you may be surprised when Hook Joe shows up and does his special “Hook Swing” attack!

After each Act and Adventure, the game includes a system of experience points and reward cards that allow heroes to advance and are recorded on the Hero document sheets. However, there is no larger campaign , and no rules for linking Adventures, beyond playing one Adventure after another as you choose. Probably best to increase the Difficulty level for experienced Heroes, but again there are no rules guiding this.

The core set only includes one 1-Act and one 3-Act Adventures. Since the Henchmen decks are built and randomized for each Act, there is some replay ability, but ultimately new Adventures will be needed. Luckily, there are several expansions planned. And the core game does include “Chance Encounter”, which allows you to create randomized games from your Henchmen pool with four levels of difficulty.

While the Combat system shines, the Adventures feel a little lacking. The Combats with the Leaders and Henchmen are entertaining, but the overall feeling of involvement in an epic quest seems secondary. Players cannot really affect the stories. There is one, linear path to victory, and while the mechanics to achieve it may vary, player choices cannot really alter the path.

I find myself wishing for more engaging Adventures, with alternative paths through the Adventures and the Acts, such that the narrative guides player choices that then define the story that unfolds rather than just modifies the set challenges in minor ways. Using narrative to present multiple choices where player decisions alter the flow of the game causes players to become more invested in the story. Play should affect how the story unfolds, not just the story unfolding affecting play.

In summary, if you enjoy fantasy adventure games, solo, head to head, or cooperative, where your role is a single hero represented by a card deck, this is a must have game. The Heroes and their cards (pre-built or self-built decks) are awesome and thematic. The Combat plays fast with constant, tense decisions. The Adventures provide a framework for variable Combats with interesting Henchmen and Leaders that will entertain as well as challenge. With more heroes and Adventures coming in expansions, Aventuria will only get even more spectacular.

This review was written based on a privately purchased Kickstarter copy. No compensation was involved.
c2017 by Richard A. Edwards

Unfair

Unfair. CMON, 2017. $50. Designed by Joel Finch. 6 themed packs of cards (Gangster, Jungle, Ninja, Pirate, Robot, and Vampire, with 57 cards each), 5 “Game Changer” cards, 2 player reference sheets, 1 double sided game board, 1 Starting Player marker, 1 Current Step miniature, 1 Blueprint Closure card, a score pad (and pencil), 80+ “coin” and various other tokens, and 1 beautifully illustrated, well and humorously written rule book. 2-5 players. Ages 14+. 30 minutes per player.

Starting with only a dream and a Main Gate, this very thematic card tableau-builder game has players creating theme park attractions and upgrading them while adding staff and resources with various effects. In each of the game’s eight rounds, players will draw an Event card, be affected by City Events, and play Event effects, then take three actions, one at a time, in player order. At the end of each round players collect their income based on how many guests they attract to their park, within the park’s limited capacity.

Park actions include taking cards from various decks, including the Event deck (which provide various powerful effects, both pro-player and “take that” mechanics as well as defenses), Blueprints (which provide lots of extra end game points IF you complete certain objectives), and Park cards (which are the heart of the game and include the many, varied Attractions and Upgrades that make them worth more, as well as Staff and Resources to enhance your park.) Having taken cards, you can Build cards from the openly displayed Market or from your hand or one of your “Showcase” major attractions. You can also Demolish cards to make room for new attractions, and gather “Loose Change” to gain a little quick income.

The entire game from card illustrations to core design to the phase tracking miniature roller coaster car is thematically fun! Once packs are selected, each contributes cards to every deck creating a unique game setup for every mix of themes. With expansions this variety will only increase. Each pack is rated for Attraction Size, Blueprints, Coins, and Unfairness, so if you want to play with a lot of money use Gangster; if you want lots of opportunities to mess up your opponent, choose Ninja.

Unfair isn’t just about building a Thrill Ride with a Vertical Drop Element and an Express Queue to score big points for the Short Sharp Shock Blueprint, nor creating a park with a Nature Area and a Food Outlet with a Quality upgrade as well as a Theatre in order to complete the River Romance Blueprint, it’s also about the most effective way to get there in terms of resources (coins and actions) while trying to attract guests to your park and hold off your rivals. There are a lot of deep game play decisions to be made while adapting to an ever changing landscape. While there is a lot of randomness in the game (it is a card game with many decks after all), this can be mitigated by knowing what effects might happen and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

However, having built a beautiful, park with a huge, unique attraction, it can be very disconcerting to have your opponent tear it (and your plans) apart. A lot of decisions require an in-depth knowledge of which cards have been added to the various decks and what your (and your opponent’s) options may be. This knowledge is really only gained through repeated game play. While half the fun is discovering the highly entertaining, thematic cards during play it’s important to learn each pack’s potential effects as well. It is highly recommended that you play your first few games with low Unfairness rating packs and/or use the “World Peace” Game Changer card so players can focus on building their parks and discovering the various cards and possible effects before being blindsided by them. Jumping straight into the game’s deep end can be jarring.

Unfair has become one of my favorite games of 2017! The beauty and theme easily draws you in and the game play has a lot to be explored. The ability to mix and match the various theme packs creates many fun mixes and modifying game play with “Game Changer” cards allows you to customize the game to your preferred style of play. Expansion packs (including the already announced Western, Alien, Dinosaurs, Hackers, Zombie, and Medieval themes) are eagerly awaited.

This review was written based on a privately purchased Kickstarter copy. No compensation was involved.
c2017 by Richard A. Edwards