Time for a little game blogging this week - and the promised review of AEG's Thunderstone.
Before I go into the review, let me preface it by saying that I have been advised that Thunderstone's core mechanics are very similar to Rio Grande Games' Dominion. I have seen Dominion played in passing, but I didn't watch long enough to learn much about it. I did hear this statement from more than one person - even a guy who just chanced upon us playing at the local game shop - so I feel I'm offering more than hearsay.
The game takes the fantasy dungeon quest and turns it into an interesting game of resource management and acquisition. Players build a card pool of heroes, weapons, spells, and items and use them to defeat the game's monsters. Every turn one must choose whether to go the village to purchase more heroes/powers/whatever or go the the dungeon and engage the monsters. Defeating the villains gives players experience points and victory points; experience points may be spent to increase a hero's abilities, and victory points win the game. Another way of looking at the game is the recurring question: Should you grow your forces this turn or make a grab for more victory points? For the most part, the players don't directly conflict with one another; when they are able, it tends to be in the form of temporary losses of cards.
We played the intro scenario, which gave a fairly quick and balanced game. Then we played a scenario with randomized resources and it proved much more challenging. We did not have an easy time with making hero/weapon/magic purchases and the monsters were already pretty tough. The lesson here is that the mix of player resources can have a big impact on how fast the game plays and how much determination and strategy one needs to succeed. I recommend the game, and I can definitely see how the same game might not ever be played again.
The last thing I'll mention is that the game looks great - very nice production values and quality artwork. I really like the thick cards too.
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