Sunday, October 4, 2009

Deck-building - the new worker-placement!

You remember when Caylus came out? And it was such a new and exciting idea, the whole worker placement thing. It combined resource management, planning, and timing into one simple and elegant mechanic. Next thing you know Pillars of the Earth shows up, then Stone Age and Cuba and Tribune and so on and so on....

Well, skip ahead a few years and Dominion has now swept the gaming world. Now the idea of deck-building isn't original - that credit goes to Magic: The Gathering from way back when. However, building the deck as the game progresses is wholly original and has changed game play altogether. Well, guess what? There's some card games on the way which have started to incorporate this very mechanism. Here's a few, all of which I have yet to play:

Arctic Scavengers
This one came out last year and has been getting some really good press. You start with a small "tribe" of cards and slowly add tools and resources. One of the main differences compared to Dominion is that you have skirmishes at the end of each round with the cards in your deck and rare resources are won in this way. Sounds like it will play quite differently and, much like Dominion, there are already two expansions in the works...

This game from Alderac Entertainment Group seems to be a combination of Dungeons and Dragons meets Dominion. There are over 500 cards which make up the characters you can hire and the monsters you fight with. Like Dominion a random subset of characters and baddies is available each game, making replayability quite high (hopefully). The website says:
Thunderstone is a new and exciting fantasy deck-building game from Alderac Entertainment Group. Fight the evils of the dungeon to prove your worth. Gain powerful weaponry and level into new and mighty hero classes. Claim the best cards and survive to take the Thunderstone.
It'll be interesting to see if this one is a hit or a miss. The babble online is saying it's a lotta fun...

This game is also from AEG which makes one wonder if they are just trying to cash in on a trend or if they are actually putting out some decent gaming. The description from the website:
As the game is played, various stacks of “Stake” cards are revealed. Using the cards in your hand from your Main Deck, you will play agents to the various Stake cards, and you will use other cards to augment your agents. The player whose agent wins the Stake will claim it, placing it in his Resource Deck. Any card from your main deck that has been played also goes to the resource deck. When the main deck runs out, you reshuffle your resource deck into a new main deck. The more powerful the Stake card you win, the better it will make your deck as the game progresses. However, should you win a stake for a card that does not directly help your strategies, you can put the card under your Guild card, and still score at the end though not have to reshuffle that card into your deck, maintaining focus. Every card has a point value and at the end of the game the total point value of all the cards in your possession determines the winner.
Sounds like Dominion, although there are some other bells and whistles not mentioned here. I think the big difference here is that the deck-building isn't the main function. You have to fight for the cards to add your deck and certain cards will be worth more thanks to some secret objectives handed out at the beginning. I think this will be the lighter of the two from AEG but definitely something to look out for...

1 comment:

  1. Wooo Magic! But I feel they are all about the benjamins now which is kind of sad. With these new games, having everyone on a level playing field without spending $$$ is pretty awesome.