So on the 31/1/12 Chris, Nick and I played Thunderstone: Dragonspire at Chris's.
Time on the box was 45 minutes, which I knew was being overly optimistic. Took about 2 hours, but that included rules explanation as Nick and I had played it, as well as 20 minutes discussion and looking up rules on BGG, but I'll get to that.
I liked the box size, which I think is similar to Dominion, so would fit nicely on my shelves. The inside of the box was better than Dominion (in my opinion, which is all these posts BTW) in that rather than having an assigned hole for each card, came with lots of foam pieces and card separators so you could fit lots of cards in the box. It didn't seem to come with a huge amount of cards, but that could just be my impression of it. I know that it only came with the two Thunderstones, one of which seemed useless in the game we played (fortunately it didn't come out thou), so that could be increased.
The cards were ok, not great, but I think they would defiantly need sleeving if you were playing it a lot.
It came with a dungeon board for the creatures, but I not sure whether it was the material it was coated in, or the combination of the light and where I was sitting, but It was really reflective of the light and created a lot of glare to the point that it was very hard to read it.
This is where the games major faults were I thought. There was too much ambiguity of the wording on the cards, that when events triggered it was unclear exactly what needed to happen. For example I defeated the Flame Rage Hydra Dragon, which caused me to destroy the village card with the highest value. So we spend about 20 minutes discussing whether or not this means destroy the top card of the most expensive village item, or the complete stack of the village item. In the end we worked out (we think) that it means the top card in my hand at the time. Confusing. Also we had the chieftain's drum. What constitutes a village card? is it only the ones with the village icon, or are the torch and iron rations included too? I'm still not 100% sure what the correct answer on that one is as there seemed to be 2 different schools of thoughts and not shortage of people willing to way in with an opinion. I mean these aren't game breakers by any stretch of the imagination, but the defiantly slowed down the speed of play, and sowed a degree of discontent into the game. The other thing, and maybe this was just me, but the icons on the cards weren't big enough and maybe too cramped on one side. I keep forgetting which icon did which. Again that could have been just me, maybe combined with the board glare from the light which made it a bit harder to see, but I think there was defiantly room to perhaps make the icons a little bigger on the cards.
I liked how the game played. I'm a big fan of dungeon crawl games (even thou I never get to play them ), and for me this scratched that itch. I defiantly got the feeling I was building my party to venture into the dungeon and fight the baddies. I wasn't sure how you could get that dungeon crawl feel with just card's, but it defiantly pulls it off. Yes the game play draws a lot of its mechanics from Dominion (which one doesn't?), but I felt that there was enough of a difference to warrant playing this over dominion. The way the defeated creatures added to you deck as victory points, yes just like Dominion, but unlike dominion they don't just have to clog your hand, they can be spent as money. Genius. Nothing worse than getting stuck with a hand full of duchy's. Most of the turns seemed to be going to the village and buying cards or resting and trashing cards, before a big splurge into the dungeon to take on a creature. I would have thought that this would get boring, or at least feel just like Dominion, but I actually became invested in getting better equipment for my guys and trying to level them up before taking on the dungeon. I think it was probably something like 80% shopping 20% dungeon, but that was a pretty good balance. And speaking of levelling up, that's a great aspect of the game. Being able to replace weaker team members with their levelled up equivalent was a neat twist. Thins out the deck of the chaff, and brings dungeon adventures closer.
I don't think that this suffered from downtime at all. In much the same way Dominion, doesn't really seem to suffer from it either, I was always looking at my cards and trying to plan what my next more should be. Should I got to the village and stock up, or do I think that I could take that bandit? That's one of the downsides to a big dungeon crawl like Descent: Journeys in the Dark, when its not your turn, it seems that there is not really anything that you can do. At no-time did I feel I was bored or wishing that it was over.
Would I play it again?
Absolutely. I'm looking forward to it. I've been thinking over the game we played and thinking where I could have done things differently. Any game that has you still thinking about the game 2 days later is a winner in my books. Of course it helped that I won (all the more sweeter as I beat Nick by one point, AGAIN , but even if I lost I would have considered it a fun game. It was especially sweet when I wa sable to "lose" at a fight to lose a militia out of my hand, while Chris and Nick both had to lose a big fella (twice).
I'm going to Melbourne tomorrow for the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular on Saturday, so plan on dropping into to Milsims. Chris has asked me to pick up Thunderstone: Legion for him, so I look forward to getting to play that one too
Rating out of 10
This would have to be a solid 8 of 10. I used to be a huge fan of Dominion, but have gone off it a little due to lots of plays, but as a deck building game this is right up there.