A Review of Valeria: Card Kingdoms and the Cooperative Expansion: Darksworn

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Valeria: Card Kingdoms is a competitive victory point card game that’s been out for some time (it original came out 2016). Back in 2021, Daily Magic (the publisher) put together an expansion called Darksworn that adds a cooperative mode to the game: they also made a 2nd Edition of the original game. So, Daily Magic put Valeria: Card Kingdoms (2nd Edition) and this new expansion Valeria: Card King Kingdoms, Darksworn (seriously, that’s it’s full name) on Kickstarter back in March 2021. They fulfilled fairly quickly and it arrived at my door in early December 2021, but it’s taken me a while to get the solo mode, the group mode, and the cooperative mode played to get a sense of this game!

This will be a fairly longish review: we need to get a sense of the base game Valeria: Card Kingdoms before we jump into the cooperative expansion! After playing all the many ways (base solo, cooperative solo, group competitive, group cooperative), it was pretty clear we needed a sense of the base game before jumping into the cooperative mode.  Luckily, it was pretty easy to do that.

Unboxing and Discussion of Valeria: Card Kingdoms

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So, when I kickstarted this, apparently I got the 2nd Edition of Valeria: Card Kingdoms. I have never played the original, so I have no sense of what’s changed (apologies). I can only offer a look at the current edition. At its core, Valeria: Card Kingdoms is a card game.

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The cards are all linen-finished and have the same art style: that consistency works in the games advantage as it looks really good on the table when it’s all set-up (see below).

There’s some nice dividers to help “sort” the cards. Incidentally, there are a lot of cards in this game! Setting up and tearing down the game reminded me of many deck-builder games … so many cards to choose from and set-up!

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But the cards organize pretty well into the box above. When it’s all put away, it looks like the below.

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Here’s a bunch of the cards, starting with the Dukes! Each player takes on the role of a Duke in the game!

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In the game, each player gets to choose between two dukes to play: I chose Isabella the Righteous. This card is hidden until the very end: basically, it may shape your play as you get “extra” victory points at the end of the game depending on your duke.

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Throughout the game, the main goal is to fight Monsters: see some sample monsters above! You have to have enough strength and or magic to defeat a monster; For example: the goblin only requires 1 strength to defeat, but the dragon requires 6 magic AND 12 strength!). If you defeat the monster, you get the card and it will count as victory points (the purple badge: 1 victory point for the goblin and 7 for the dragon) at the end of the game. Whoever has the most victory points at the end wins!

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To help you gain strength and magic and gold, you must recruit citizens along the way! Each citizen costs gold (very much like a deck-builder) as you hire them. See a bunch of different citizens above,

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For example, the Miner citizen above costs 1 gold, but when he does an activate (on an 11 or 12: the activation number at the top left), he gets you one of two benefits, depending on whether you are primary player on not. Usually, being primary player gets you the better benefit (on the bottom left) or the alternate benefit (on the bottom right). In the citizen above, activating the Miner gives you all sorts of gold!

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Another way to get victory points is to buy domains: see above. They tend to cost a lot of gold.

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As the citizens get you more gold, magic, and strength, you have to keep track of your resources using the boards above (each player gets one). Note the +10 token which you drape along the right of the card to keep track of amounts above 10.

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When everything is all set-up, there are 5 monsters at the top row, 10 citizens in the next 2 rows, and 5 domains in the last row. You recruit citizens to get resources (strength, gold, magic), you kill monsters for victory points, and you buy lands (domains) for victory points. See above.

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The markers for the boards are nice wood components (see above). The two dice are quite nice and chunky! They are also the main thing that dictates how resources flow in the game! When you roll the two dice, you activate every citizen that matches the exact number on the dice OR the sum!

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You always start with 3 citizens (Hearld, Peasant, Knight: see above). In my first turn, I rolled a 5 and 6, so the Peasant (5) activates and the Knight (6) activates. If I had already recruited the Miner (11/12 from above) he would also activate! The Peasant activates to give you 1 gold and the Knight activates gives 1 strength (bottom of card for benefits!). See below for a more focused look at the starter cards.

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One of the more interesting mechanisms of the game is that EVERYONE who has a citizen that matches the die roll activates! The primary player gets the benefit on the LEFT, everyone else gets the benefit on the RIGHT. For the starting citizens (Herald, Peasant, Knight), there’s no difference, but notice the Cleric! The primary player gets 3 magic while everyone else only gets 1 magic!

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The game flows pretty well: everyone stay involved as you play, but the primary character gets the better benefit.  Usually, people spend the first part of the game recruiting citizens and building their army so they can fight monsters and/or buy land in the later game.  Once a certain number of stacks are exhausted, the game is over and you count victory points!

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The game has real nice components (see below) and looks really fantastic all set-up (see above).

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Rulebook for Valeria: Card Kingdoms, 2nd Edition

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I spend at least a little time every review talking about the rulebook. This rulebook was pretty good.

There were lots of pictures for set-up, lots of annotations of the different cards, and the rules seemed fairly complete. There was even a elaboration section at the end.

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For some reason, I didn’t love this font: the font seemed to make this harder to read for me? I didn’t love the font, but it was readable: it just seemed to demand “more” from me as a reader. Maybe I’m crazy on this one. The rulebook was good enough for me, a complete newbie to this game, to learn it from scratch. It also seemed complete and handled a lot of edge cases (either as a quick sentence or sidebar). Except for the font, I was happy with it.

Solo Game from the Base Game

So, interestingly, there are two ways to play Valeria: Card Kingdoms solo! Thank you for following Saunders’ Law! The base game comes with one way to play solo, and with the Darksworn expansion, there’s another way to play solo! Since we knew nothing of the game before getting everything, we decided to start simple and play the solo game from the base game.

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The solo mode takes about 1.5 pages at the end of the book.  The game flow does change up a little: you still roll dice, recruit citizens and kills monsters, but there’s this new notion of a monster phase, and you also activate the secondary benefit on your citizens (after everything else happens that turn).  The premise is that you are fighting against a “bad” duke (The Dark Lord) who controls the monsters! You either have to kill all the monsters or have to get more victory points than he does to win.  When you roll, you still activate your characters like normal … but in the monster phase YOU USE THE SAME ROLL to activate some column(s) of monsters on the board!  If there’s a monster in a column, the monster either kills a citizen in that column or a domain if both citizens are dead!

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If the Dark Lord has completely decimated a column so there’s nothing left to take out, the Dark Lord wins unequivocably! If you, on the other hand, kill ALL Monsters before he can exhaust any cards, then you win! Otherwise, it becomes a victory point counting game: when 5 card stacks are exhausted, you compare victory points. The Dark Lord adds victory points from monsters in the monster stacks and captured lands, and you compute victory points as normal. If you beat the score, you have a minor win.

I really liked that (in my words) there is a major win (kill all monsters), minor win (more victory points), minor loss (fewer victory points), and major loss (column decimated) in the solo mode!!! Multiple win/loss modes really adds a lot more “flavor” to the game! See the text below:

The minor/major win/loss conditions were also an impetus to come back and do better! I had minor wins in my first few games, but I still kind of want to try for a major win!

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To be clear: the solo game is more complex than the base competitive game: the solo game has you keeping track of columns, capturing citizens, and adding some new rules. But, I don’t think the new rules were too much: they were pretty straight forward and made sense. There were always interesting decisions, much like the base competitive game (When do I recruit? When do I kill monsters? When do I buy lands?), but the added element of citizens dying was really interesting!!! I liked the included solo mode, and I look forward to playing it again. It’s “simple” enough that I feel like I could play this as a relaxing solo game, but just challenging enough to be interesting.

Unboxing and Discussion of Darksworn Expansion

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The second way to play Valeria: Card Kingdoms solo is to play using the Darksworn expansion. I chose to jump straight into Darksworn expansion without playing Valeria: Card Kingdoms competitive. When I would finally teach my friends the cooperative Darksworn expansion, I would teach them the base competitive mode THEN jump into the cooperative mode. But, for now, I am jumping straight in a solo player into the Darksworn world!

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That tiny little box hold a lot of content! See above!

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The rulebook uses the same font as the base game (so at least it’s consistent) and lists all the content: see above.

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There are new Monster Events, Domains, and Citizens that WEREN’T listed in the components list: see above. I think these are just new content you can add to the base or expansion if you like.

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The tuck box, above tells us one thing: this will be a game that requires “saving the game” after a session. (Note, if you build the tuck box, it doesn’t seem to fit back in the base game?)

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The tokens are for a few new mechanisms. First, the numbers are used to notate columns because monsters will be attacking columns in the game (sounds familiar?) In other words, just like the solo game, but now we notate the columns explicitly. Because monsters attack columns, there are the walls to hold off the Monster attacks for a few rounds! The first time a monster attacks a column, it flips it over, then is only destroyed next time. The walls defer the monsters destroying citizens right away.

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The tokens are for balance: depending on the number of players, you will need more or less of these!

But what’s the solo game all about? It’s a campaign! (It looks resettable, so it’s not legacy). There are 6 books (decks) to the campaign and one “side quest” for the heroes. Each book of the campaign is one leg of a “saga” the in which the player(s) collaborte! (And that’s why there was a tuck box, because you will have to “save status” at the end of each book: new cards, new tokens, etc.)

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Somehow, the expansion includes two boards! (Seriously, this barely fits in the box) You’ll notice that the boards have a hard time keeping flat. The bottom board is “where the book unfurls”: as the adventure described in your current book happens, you will keep the book on that board (along with citizens that will be captured). And like the base solo game, citizens will be captured. In Darksworn, however, you can bring some of the citizens back!

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The other board is to hold the current “blessings” you can use! Since this game is now cooperative, victory points have no meaning as a winning means, so they are instead used to power the “blessings”! For example, for the last blessing, you can spend two victory points to rescue a citizen that was captured by a monster. So, you still accumulate victory points (immediately when you defeat a monster) but you use them to power blessings in the game!

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Darksworn also comes with new monsters that “activate” when they replace monsters. These slowly come out over the campaign until all of them are out … they are more powerful monsters because they activate and do stuff to the players!

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There are now 2 new actions (and buying Domains is GONE): You can “pray” (which allows you spend victory points on a blessing) or “share resources” (which allows you give resources to another player in a 2 to 1 ratio).

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There’s also a new starter citizen (Explorer) which replaces the Herald citizen.

Putting this all together, the cooperative solo game looks pretty cool set-up with the boards! Just like before, we have 5 monsters on top, but these monsters are randomized (and replaced every turn from the monster deck to the side). The citizens are the same, but notice that there are no lands. Now, we have the “book board” at the top, keeping track of where we are in the book and the Aquila board at the bottom (where we keep track of blessings).

Gameplay of Cooperative Solo Mode

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So, playing the cooperative mode as a solo mode was a lot of work! We had to keep both rulebooks open as we played (see above) and try to keep the components fairly separate so we didn’t mix them up … see below.

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BUT, we did this right by playing the solo game of the base game first! The whole “basic framework” of the cooperative game in Darksworn is very much like the base solo game! Monsters attack columns (based on the die rolls) and you lose if too many citizens are killed! Unfortunately, there are no special powers in the game! This seems like a lost opportunity: shouldn’t each player take on the role of a Duke with a special power? The solo cooperative mode just has you play one player with one resource board (you DO NOT take on the persona of a Duke or anything special). The multiplayer mode has each player have a resource board. (The Darksworn solo mode has an extra rule, like the base solo, that you get secondary activations at the end of your turn).

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Even though the Darksworn expansion has the “basic framework” of the base solo game, there are still a lot of other new interesting things the expansion adds: “blessings”, the walls, the current book (and challenges it offers) and some other things we don’t want to spoil.

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So, I liked the cooperative Darksworn solo game … mostly. It was so much work to set-up and keep track of the campaign and the campaign rules, it sometimes felt like too much. It was, however, very important for me to play the Darksworn expansion solo first! I had to teach my friends Darksworn, and that teach was a lot easier once I had stumbled through the Darksworn expansion as a solo mode first: that was critical. I think I like the base solo game better, though! If I really want a campaign to play alone, I think that Darksworn can work, but I think having multiple players is better if no reason other than your friends can help with the shared maintenance of the new Darksworn rules!

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I taught my friends the competitive game FIRST, then the cooperative expansion. Valeria: Card Kingdoms is a pretty simple game to teach: roll dice, gather citizens, kill monsters, add victory points. Even though this is a cooperative game blog, I have to give the base competitive game of Valeria: Card Kingdoms props! It’s easy to learn, quick to play (30 minutes?), and pretty fun. It doesn’t have huge depth, but we had a good time playing the competitive game, even though it was just a goalpost on the way to the cooperative game. (I think my friends would play the competitive game again if they wanted a light game).

Cooperative Game: Darksworn

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Like I said in the solo section, Darksworn adds a lot of rules to the base game, using the base solo game as a “basic framework” for the cooperative game.  Here’s the thing: we really enjoyed the game a cooperative game!

  1. The extra load/maintenance of new rules wasn’t so bad!  Because we had multiple players to “share the load” of extra rules and  maintenance, the extra load didn’t seem so bad.  In the solo game, that extra load bogged the game down a little as only one player has to deal with everything.  Now, you may enjoy that, and frankly I would too.  But I think it was better in the cooperative game.
  2. There’s no “Take That” in Darksworn: Even though we like the competitive version of Valeria: Card Kingdoms, later in the game, we got annoyed at some of the “take that” Domains you can buy. That wasn’t a problem at all in the cooperative game
  3.  The game encouraged cooperation: The “Shares Resources” action, which is new in Darksworn, can be very useful.  It allows players who are doing better in certain resources to help out their brethren when they really need it!  
  4. Using Victory Points for blessings: we really liked how Darksworn kept the victory points, but could still use them for blessings
  5. Follow Action: the fact that when another player rolls the dice, he still activates everyone else’s secondary action was great!  This action, still in the cooperative game, keeps everyone involved

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So the only reason not to love the Darksworn cooperative game is that you are tired on campaigns! There is no way to play this game cooperatively without the books, so you have to play the campaign. But, we really got into the story! See Teresa above really getting into the tales from the first book!

We liked it enough to want to continue playing through the campaign.

Conclusion

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Should you get both Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Darksworn if you just want cooperative play? I think you should try out the base game to see if you like it first. The solo game in the base game of Valeria: Card Kingdoms is actually quite good and almost worth it as a game by itself! Although the competitive game of Valeria: Card Kingdoms is fairly light, fun, and easy to play, some of the “take that” in the base game can be annoying. But, if you like the base game, especially the solo game, and you want a campaign, the Darksworn expansion is a good choice! Darksworn is good as a cooperative campaign game, but there might be too many rules to play it solo: Caveat Emptor.

We liked Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Darksworn enough that it probably could have made our
Top 10 Games You Can Play Fully Cooperatively, and Darksworn will definitely will make the Top 10 Cooperative Expansions of 2021!

A Review of Townsfolk Tussle (a cooperative game)

Townsfolk Tussle is a cooperative boss battle game that appeared on Kickstarter in November 2020 and promised delivery in September 2021. It appeared at my door “sometime” in the last week or so? (Today is January 4th, 2022) Strictly speaking, I think it made it to my door before 2021 was over! So, just a few months late? That’s fantastic!

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For the purposes of our Top 10 Anticipated Cooperative Games of 2021, we’ll count that Townsfolk Tussle made it in 2021 … barely! But, for the purposes of “good games of 2022”, we’ll probably count Townsfolk Tussle as a 2022 game. Oops! Did we spoil what we think of the game? Well, this is a good game, but there’s some nuances and issues you need to be aware of. Let’s dive in!

Unboxing

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What is Townfolk Tussle?  You’ll notice the art is very retro, kind of reminding us of 1920s Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willy, with a dash of Ren and Stimpy or Rick and Morty.  You’ll also notice how huge this game is!  See Coke can and #2 pencil for scale above.  

Townsfolk Tussle is a game for 2-5 players (but there is a notion of solo play, which we’ll see later).

Players work together to take down 4 bosses (called Ruffians).  See the 12 Ruffians boards below.

Some 4 Ruffians are chosen randomly at the start of the game, and you reveal them one after another as you play.

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Each Ruffian has their own card describing them.  Each Ruffian also has their own deck!  The decks are very different and make each boss battle very different.

The set-up for each Ruffian is on the back of the card: notice that each Ruffian has a very different board set-up for Terrain.

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Each piece of terrain (there are always 7 pieces of Terrain) has a card that describes the rules for the terrain: see below.

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In general, each boss battle plays very differently and looks very differently.  Those two things right there give this game an immense about of variety!

As the game goes on, players are allowed to shop to get upgrades and heal themselves:

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Note the little touches that the rules are described ON THE PLAY BOARD!

Each player takes the role of a Townsfolk with VERY different powers and abilities!

There’s a little story on the back:

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But that’s just flavor.  The front is dual-layered (!) and describes all your special abilities:

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Players set-up the board, each taking a Townfolk character to play! Then they work together to take down 4 Ruffians!

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Components

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The components are pretty fantastic.

Rulebook

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The rulebook was good and one of the better ones I’ve read in a while.

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The rulebook was a bit long, but don’t let that scare you! Part of the reason for the length was that 8 or so pages have some “story” you read out when you win or lose your epic final battle.  Also, the rulebook is “longer” because it uses lot of pictures and big fonts so it’s easy to read.  Really! I liked this rulebook!

The Tables of COntents was good, the components list was ok (there was a lot of stuff it punted on and didn’t show a picture), and the pages describing set-up were great!  See above.

Easy rulebook to read, easy to get to the table, easy to lookup stuff during gameplay.  Solid rulebook.

Miniatures

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Normally, I don’t take a whole section to discuss the miniatures, but holy cow!  I really liked these miniatures!  They are so … different from other miniatures!  And they look great!  They really contribute to the theming of the game as they are all done in that odd 1920s meets Ren and Stimpy look.

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The bosses are all the bigger miniatures on the outer sides (12 in total).  The good guys (7 of them) are in the middle of the box (see above).

These minis are just SO interesting and well done.  See above for some of the bosses (the bad guys) in isolation.

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The minis overall look great and have a lot of detail: they just don’t look like any other game, and I think that really contributes to how much more theme they give the game.  Really great minis.

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Interestingly, there is still a sheet of standees “just in case”?  I suspect a later retail version of the game WILL NOT have the miniature, and players will use the standees above.  As an aside, my friend Andrew said “Oh, let’s just play with the standees these are great!”  … until he saw the miniatures … “Wow, those are great miniatures.  Ok, let’s play with the minis”.

Solo Play

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So, according to the box, there is no solo play! See above. So, the game doesn’t follow Saunders’ Law?

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But according to the rulebook (see above), there is a solo mode!  Note that it wants you to play 3 characters! And … I played 2 characters instead: see below.

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The good news is that the only real difference between solo and cooperative mode is getting rid of the “Secret” Town Events cards, see below.

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I’ll be honest, I am kind of glad I didn’t have to deal with the Secret Town Events cards because they add yet an other element of randomness and upkeep to a game that teeters on the edge of too much randomness (see “Randomness” section below).

My only complaint about the solo game is that I do think 2 characters is the right choice for the solo game, not 3.  Why?  We’ve talked about this subject quite a bit in many blog posts: How To Play a Cooperative Game Solo? and my review of Marvel United and Solar Storm.  The basic idea: play with the simplest mode that has the least mental overhead.  Context switching between 3 characters is a lot harder than context switching between 2 characters.

If nothing else, we recommend 2 characters for your first solo game: I started my first play at 8am in the morning and ended at noon!  It took 4 hours to get through 4 boss battles!  I can’t imagine how long it would have taken had I had 3 characters to go between! There is a cost to context switching between characters in a solo game: that would have elongated the game.  Maybe once you know the game better, 3 characters  is better for solo. I just suggest you use 2 character solo mode to learn your first game.

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For the record, the solo game was fun!  I approached it as a puzzle and had a great time learning the game and interacting with the terrain.  If I only had to play it solo, I would probably give it a 7.5/10.0, because it felt like a neat (albeit long) puzzle.

Cooperative Play

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So cooperative play was good: my team and I worked together well and were able to beat the bosses/Ruffians.  But, there were a few things we didn’t like:

  1. You couldn’t share stuff!  There is an official variant in the rulebook that allows you to share gold and items, but it seemed like it was “frowned” upon AS IT’S NOT the default mode!  We played our first round without sharing, and it seemed less engaging to NOT share!  After the first rounds, we went ahead and shared, strategizing about what we needed.  The *absence* of sharing made the game seem less cooperative.  We strongly recommend you play with the sharing rules!
  2. Turns where nothing happens seems worse in cooperative mode! When I played solo, I had a number of turns where all I could do was move one character a few spaces and nothing else.  It didn’t matter as much, because I was controlling the 2 characters as a solo player, and usually one of the characters always did something (or at least set-up the other character). But I watched my friend Teresa do NOTHING but move the entire first battle … and then she died immediately on her first engagement.  Her first game would make most people walk away: “I couldn’t do anything: I hate this game”.  But Teresa persevered and we made sure she got gear that helped her movement next battle (with a little help, see above about sharing)!

So, there are definitely turns when all one character does is move: they can’t reach the Ruffian boss, they can’t fire, and if that happens too much, it can be frustrating.  Once you realize you can mitigate some of that by buying better equipment (with movement in Teresa’s case), it’s not as bad.  But I think the cooperative game is much more likely to have some characters have boring turns.

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But, with the sharing mode on, we had a great time playing cooperatively  We strategized about what all our characters could do, how to beat the bad guy, what to do.  Overall, it was a fun cooperative game.

What I liked

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There is a lot to like here.  The components, by themselves, contribute a lot to my liking of the game:

  • The cards: easy to read, nice little thematic pictures, linen-coated
  • Player Boards: dual layer, easy to read, cool thematic pictures
  • Game Board: Big and easy to read and set-up
  • The miniatures: so cool and thematic
  • The Rulebook: one of the better ones I’ve read lately

There’s a lot of variety in this game:

  • 12 bosses to fight, and each fight is very different!  Each boss has it’s own deck!  And it’s own terrain!
  • 7 characters to inhabit, again, each very different!
  • Terrain: Each boss fight really mixes up the terrain and each piece of terrain has its own rules

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 I think this was when I knew I’d like the game: when a boss comes out, 7 pieces of terrain come out and completely change the way the characters interact with the world!

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In the boss fight above, there’s 6 (supposed to be 7) pieces of terrain and each piece of terrain really changes how you think about the map.  This kind of reminded me of one of my favorite mechanisms in Agricola, where each player has 7 occupations to choose from.  The fact that each scenario has very different terrain which affects the game just gave the game a feeling of “wow, there’s a lot of variety here”.

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The game had a nice presence on the board: it looked creepy and kitschy at the same time: see above.

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The way the bad guys (Ruffians/bosses) were handled was very clean: each boss has its own deck, and you just draw 1 card and do what it says.  The boss turns were clear and clean and moved very quickly: see a sample boss card below.

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Set-up also worked really well as the components were well-labelled with how to set-up the board!  See above for setting up terrain for Will Barlow!

In general, all components seemed to be well-labeled and easy to read.  

The rulebook taught the game well, and the components were well-labeled to help move through the game: a lot of documentation was on the components themselves.  Take a look at the player board below (dual-sided):

At the top of the player boards is a description of what you need to do in the appropriate phases.

Overall, the variety, the component quality, and the easy-flowing gameplay made this a game I really liked.

Game Length

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The game length on the box is really completely wrong! This is a VERY long game. There are 4 boss battles in the game, and I wanted to say each boss battle lasted 20-30 minutes per player. This is probably the furthest off I’ve ever seen an approximation of time! It’s probably off by 2x! For example: a two-player game took 3 – 4 hours (180 – 240minutes); that’s 90 minutes per player at best!

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There are 4 bosses per “full game”: See the 4 bosses ready to go above. It feels like the right way to play is to play 1 or 2 bosses in one sitting, and leave the game set-up for your next session, then continue the next boss(es) in the next sitting! This game is really long! BUT, even though the game is stupidly long, the game moves very quickly as you play: the boss moves are very quick with one card, and the player turns are quick. It’s just that the game just has a lot of moving parts you have to keep track of.

This is probably the biggest negative of the game: it’s just way too long. Some of that length goes away as you become familiar with the game, and the game turns move pretty quickly on your turns so it doesn’t necessarily drag or feel long. But the full 4 bosses battles seems too long.

We suggest a house rule to maybe mitigate the length: skip the 1st battle entirely, and just upgrade as if you had beaten the first Ruffian. This brings the game from 4 Ruffian boss battles down to 3.

Randomness

Another potential knock against the game is the randomness: the dice decide everything in the game.  If you roll poorly, you will die.  As you play more and more, you get bonuses to dice rolls via equipment, but you are still at the mercy of the dice at some level, even after upgrading.

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In my very first game, the bad guy took away a lot of movement and moxie quickly, so my characters had a number of turns where they couldn’t do much.  In my first cooperative game, the dice conspired against my compatriots in the first battle until I was the only one left!  We beat the boss and were able to get some supplies, but again, we were at the mercy of the dice for the whole first boss.   Advancement in this game seems to happen “pretty quickly”, so you can choose all sorts of supples to mitigate your dice rolls: either from the Peddlar (below: you get 10 cards, quite a variety when you are ready to buy!):

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… or from beating the Ruffian boss him/herself! (Each Ruffian has 3 random gear … see below).

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As you play, you get more and more things (equipment) to help your odds, and you get to choose what things you get (when you buy from the Peddler).  So, despite the randomness of everything being a dice roll, I think that the abundance of equipment and choices mitigated the randomness just enough so that the randomness didn’t feel overwhelming.   

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Another place where the randomness can be overwhelming is the Town Events cards: each player gets an event: some are good, some are bad, some just stink.  Like I said, I was happy in the solo game to get rid of the “Secrets” that come up in the Town Events, because it got rid another source of randomness/upkeep.

Your mileage may vary of course, but I usually don’t like too much randomness in games! And I think there was juuuuuust enough mitigation of randomness to make the game fun.  It’s something to be aware of: you may still find the game too random, but I think this is a case where the randomness makes the game interesting and not overwhelming.   Be aware.

Conclusion

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So, I liked Townsfolk Tussle quite a bit! It was very fun! I didn’t quite love it, but I almost did. I think the main problems were that the games were just a little too long and that there was just a touch too much randomness (from the die rolls). But overall, the quick moving gameplay, the constant feeling of upgrading, and the variety in settings/equipment made this a fun game to play! Weirdly, I enjoyed it solo slightly more than cooperatively! I would probably give it a 7.5/10.0 as a solo game and 7.0/10.0 as a cooperative game. The quality of the components (linen-finished cards, nice boards, nice dice, amazing miniatures) probably contributed to a lot of that score. Don’t discount the rulebook: the rulebook was pretty darn good and taught the game: I liked it.

My friends had similar ratings:

  • Andrew: 6.5/10
  • Sara: 6.5-7.0/10
  • Teresa: 7/10
  • Rich: 7.5/10 for solo, 7/10 for co-op

In general, we liked the game and had a fun time!