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Thunderstone Advance: Root of Corruption» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A GFBR Review: All About Curses rss

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Ever since AEG’s Thunderstone Advance came out, I’ve been eager to see how the game would be expanded. Thunderstone has a ton of potential. While the first expansion didn’t blow me away, the second expansion succeeded to a much greater extent in that department. It added new cards, new combinations, and an entire new way to play: cooperatively.

The Basics. Root of Corruption adds a wealth of new cards to Thunderstone, but the basic theme for the set is: curses. Most of the monsters cause you or opponents to gain curses. Many of the items also cause you to gain curses. Often, the cards provide a really nice benefit but come at the cost of acquiring a curse.

But, in addition to the various ways to gain curses, the cards also provide numerous ways to dispose of them. Many of the heroes allow players to discard or destroy curses in order to provide additional effects. Extra attack value is common. Or there is the Honormain which let you destroy any card, so you can also rest out something you don’t like even if you have no curses.

As fitting a set that focuses on curses, new ones are included, the most interesting of which is the Curse of Compromise. Unlike every other curse, it actually has an attack value of +1 and provides other benefits if you take it to the village. The drawback, though, is that it has a trophy effect. Any time it’s in your hand, you gain a curse. So the Curse of Compromise helps, but continues to throw more curses into your deck.

But the real change to Thunderstone is the addition of a cooperative mode. In co-op, you try to defend the city as it is besieged by monsters. Rather than a single dungeon hall, the players are faced with five dungeon halls each filled with monsters. Each approaches a portion of the wall, which is guarded by five tokens. Each round, a monster card is flipped over. When the top (rank three) row is flipped, the next turn they march toward the walls. If any monsters are pushed past the wall, they take a chunk of it and the players lose one of the tokens in that location. If the wall holds, the players win. If it doesn’t, and a monster gets through, they lose.

So Thunderstone players can now play it in the original flavor, as a solo game, or cooperatively.

The Feel. As I read through the cards, my initial worry was that, with so many bestowing curses, this set would quickly bog down your deck and make the game last way too long. One of the drawbacks to original Thunderstone, acknowledged by AEG, was that it would sometimes drag. Advance does a good job of ameliorating that, but if you throw too many curses in there, it can be a problem again.

Luckily, with so many new ways of disposing curses, it wasn’t a problem at all – at least not in the suggested setups at the back of Root of Corruption. In fact, Curses felt almost like an evil currency. You gained them through several different actions, but then you could use them to power certain abilities. Of course, too many curses meant you were likely to draw them at unfortunate times, so there is an introduction of curse management.

I loved that aspect. After playing Caverns of Bane, I felt like it was just more Thunderstone: nice, but nothing to write home about. With this expansion, though, there is definitely something new and interesting here. In fact, I’ve had some of the most fun Advance games ever thanks to Root of Corruption. Of course I’ve limited myself to the suggested setups. If you randomly selected all of the curse-generating monsters and none of the heroes or items that shed curses, you could be in for a bad time.

But, more than just the way the expansion alters the base game, there is also the new siege mode cooperative game. The co-op feels different from most. Even though all the players are working together, no player can be the weak link. There are only six rounds before the monsters march downward. That means that the players have to pretty consistently get into the dungeon and kill things. That can be difficult in Thunderstone. So even in co-op mode, every player has to carry their own weight. It feels more like individual parties or heroes relying on one another than a typical co-op managed by a dominant player.

Components: 3.5 of 5. First off, the cards are fantastic, with the same high quality and great artwork we’ve come to expect from Thunderstone. The expansion includes new dividers and it all aligns perfectly in the base box. However, the game also comes with a play mat for the cooperative mode that makes it easy to keep all of the various lines of monsters in order. Unfortunately, the play mat is not the high quality backed board that the original came with. Instead, it is maybe poster quality. While that isn’t so bad in and of itself, it also was not folded properly in my copy. After being in that fold for so long, there’s no way I can re-fold it now. The fold lines not only go across important parts, but also make it difficult to fit in the Thunderstone box. Jeff Quick at AEG has acknowledged this and indicated that customers can contact customer service for a better solution. A more permanent board may become available in the future.

Plus, there are a few oddball cards here or there. Like the Profaned, which refers to both “Diseases” and “Curses.” Back in Thunderstone Original, curses existed but were called diseases. It seems like some of that nomenclature sneaked back into Advance. Not a bid deal for those who played the original, but new Advance players might be confused.

Strategy/Luck Balance: 4 of 5. With curses playing such a prominent role, it opens up new avenues for play. Root of Corruption retains a healthy balance of luck-to-strategy options. The strategy is even more pronounced in cooperative play because there are numerous monsters to choose from and the players can converse about which would be the best to strike down.

Mechanics: 4.5 of 5. I love the way the curses are not just something new thrown into Thunderstone, but instead are incorporated throughout the game. I find it annoying when an expansion adds something just to add it and the game gets more complicated without an equivalent increase in fun. That is most definitely not the case here. Root of Corruption takes an already existing mechanic and makes it more interesting and entertaining. The siege mode is also an excellent option.

Replayability: 3 of 5. This is my one concern about Root of Corruption. It is an excellent expansion, but I don’t know if it plays well with others. Meaning: if I just throw it into the mix and randomly selected cards, I think I might get cards that didn’t mesh well with the existing setup and end up with a bad experience. For maximum awesome, I would stick to the suggested setups in the rulebook as well as the modules put out by AEG and downloadable for free on their website.

Spite: 3 of 5. In the co-op there is no spite. In fact, some cards (like the Treefolk that allow other players to draw cards) become better in co-op. But the spite level increases a notch in the regular game. It is much easier to dish out curses to your opponents in this expansion. And, depending on their setup, that could be a very bad thing.

Overall: 4 of 5. Root of Corruption is a fantastic addition to Advance. If you are looking for a way to mix up your game, then this is the one. RoC brings an exciting modification to the base game and a completely new variant in the form of cooperative play. This is the expansion I was hoping to see for Advance. If you are a fan of Thunderstone, I highly recommend getting your hands on this.

(A special thanks to AEG for providing a review copy of Root of Corruption)

(Originally posted, with pictures, on the Giant Fire Breathing Robot. See my GeekList for all my reviews)
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Mark Wootton
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MyParadox wrote:


Components: 3.5 of 5.

Plus, there are a few oddball cards here or there. Like the Profaned, which refers to both “Diseases” and “Curses.” Back in Thunderstone Original, curses existed but were called diseases. It seems like some of that nomenclature sneaked back into Advance. Not a bid deal for those who played the original, but new Advance players might be confused.

Replayability: 3 of 5. This is my one concern about Root of Corruption. It is an excellent expansion, but I don’t know if it plays well with others. Meaning: if I just throw it into the mix and randomly selected cards, I think I might get cards that didn’t mesh well with the existing setup and end up with a bad experience. For maximum awesome, I would stick to the suggested setups in the rulebook as well as the modules put out by AEG and downloadable for free on their website.

Spite: 3 of 5. In the co-op there is no spite. In fact, some cards (like the Treefolk that allow other players to draw cards) become better in co-op. But the spite level increases a notch in the regular game. It is much easier to dish out curses to your opponents in this expansion. And, depending on their setup, that could be a very bad thing.


Just some quick feedback on these points.

Terminology - in the Tala cycle we have always referred, when acquiring them, to Curses. That is because that is what things in Tala do, they give you curses. Curses are also a form of Disease card. Anytime a card refers to removing curse cards it refers to "diseases". This is so that new cards still work if you mix them backwards with older cards. A cleric that removed curses, would be useless if you played with the Undead Doom, who do not hand out curses, but hand out diseases. In other words, when we give them out in Tala, we give out a specific sub-set. However, when we cure them, we cure all diseases. That is the reason for the difference.

Replay - Having played well over 200 games with a combination of all three Tala sets, I can say that I have had very few random mixes that have negatively affected the replay value. I am not saying it never happens, just that it is unusual for it to be a problem. Curses themselves always have that self-curing clause, and there are plenty of cards across the three sets that mean the game usually has a reasonable balance. I'd highly recommend games with random mixes from all three sets, I think that they give a great feel for the setting that we are trying to create with Tala.

Spite - there is actually a hero in this set who can be super-spiteful with the right card mix, but who can be a boon in multiplayer, but I'll leave you to find the joys of that out for yourself

Thanks for the review!

Mark

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I saw the pictures on the site and I see you don't sleeve.
Too bad the ultra pro sleeves don't fit so nice in the box. The lower edges of the sleeves become curly.
I hope the "board" get some improvement soon. That paper board is very disappointing.
 
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Har1equin wrote:
[q="MyParadox"]
Terminology - in the Tala cycle we have always referred, when acquiring them, to Curses. That is because that is what things in Tala do, they give you curses. Curses are also a form of Disease card. Anytime a card refers to removing curse cards it refers to "diseases". This is so that new cards still work if you mix them backwards with older cards. A cleric that removed curses, would be useless if you played with the Undead Doom, who do not hand out curses, but hand out diseases. In other words, when we give them out in Tala, we give out a specific sub-set. However, when we cure them, we cure all diseases. That is the reason for the difference.

Replay - Having played well over 200 games with a combination of all three Tala sets, I can say that I have had very few random mixes that have negatively affected the replay value. I am not saying it never happens, just that it is unusual for it to be a problem. Curses themselves always have that self-curing clause, and there are plenty of cards across the three sets that mean the game usually has a reasonable balance. I'd highly recommend games with random mixes from all three sets, I think that they give a great feel for the setting that we are trying to create with Tala.

Spite - there is actually a hero in this set who can be super-spiteful with the right card mix, but who can be a boon in multiplayer, but I'll leave you to find the joys of that out for yourself

Thanks for the review!

Mark


Thanks for the clarification on disease vs curses. Good to know it was intentional. And good to hear about the replay value. I love the way the cards all interplay around curses.
 
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topera wrote:
I saw the pictures on the site and I see you don't sleeve.
Too bad the ultra pro sleeves don't fit so nice in the box. The lower edges of the sleeves become curly.


I have this same problem with the Max Pro sleeves that I use. Clearly it is the box and not the sleeves that are the problem. However it affects all cards the same, so I can kind of live with it. Prefer not to have the problem, but can live with it.

 
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