Storms of Shambhala Review

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Storms of Shambhala is a game by Corwin Peters, published by Mythos Method. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take on the role of one of Shambhala’s enlightened ones as they protect the Earth from Mara, Lord of Deception. They will be aided by mighty heroes, rare artifacts and powerful spells as they face off with some truly nasty monsters. The player that can form the best band of warriors to defeat the most monsters and collect the most victory points will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player is given 3 gold, a double sided player aid that includes a spell list as well as a rune chart and a deck composed of the following 10 cards; 3 Navakas, 3 Forest Infantries, 3 Copper Traders and 1 Magician. The remaining cards of this type are returned to the box. Players are also given 1 building card, a Shangha, which is placed in front of them. The 3 tiers of hero and monster cards are separated. The tier 1 cards are shuffled separately while the tier 2 and 3 cards are set aside for use later. The tier 1 hero and monster decks are set beside each other in the center of the play area face down. The top 3 cards of each deck are flipped over to form a row on each side of the decks known as the center row. The remaining heroes, buildings and action cards are placed in separate stacks of the same type and placed in two rows above the center row, as shown in the components picture below. The Artifact cards are shuffled and placed facedown in the top left corner of the tableau, as shown below. 25 points worth of shards per player are placed on the table to form the Crystal Pool with red shards being worth 5 points and white ones worth 1. Gold tokens and the dice are also placed on the table within reach of all players. Players shuffle their respective decks and draw 5 cards. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over several rounds. Each round is separated into 3 phases; training/production phase, main phase and cleanup phase. The first phase is the training/production phase. In this phase, any training or production counters that a player has in play are reduced by 1. These counters are produced by certain buildings. The Forge and Jewelry shop use production counters while the Shangha and the Laboratory use training counters. These counters are used to track how long it takes to produce artifacts or gold in regards to the production counters or how long it takes to train a hero in regards to the training counters. They are represented by placing a six sided die on the building or on the hero that is placed on a building (when training), for the designated amount of time. Once the counter reaches 0 the reward specified on the building is received, or in regards to training, the hero card is discarded from the game and replaced into the player’s discard pile with the upgraded hero card.

The next phase is the main phase. This is where the majority of the game is played out. In this phase, the player plays cards from their hand to gain wisdom, attack power, magic, gold or collect shards. Wisdom is used to gain new heroes from the center row. A player is able to use this resource for as many purchases as they have the wisdom to aquire. Attack power is used to defeat monsters from the center row. Some heroes produce this resource. Artifacts also produce this but must be equipped to a hero. There are 4 different types of artifacts, each type corresponds to a certain type of hero that they can be equipped to. Once equipped an equip counter in the form of a six sided die is placed on the card. The counter is reduced each time the artifact is used. Magic is used to cast spells from the special players aid of basic, advanced and expert spells. Spells cost from 1-3 magic points. There is no limit to the amount of spells that can be cast. However, each spell may only be cast once per turn. Gold is used to purchase new buildings or upgrade old ones. These new buildings are placed in front of the player and stay in play unless the building is destroyed. The buildings are double sided and can be flipped over to the upgraded side if the upgrade cost is paid. Gold can also be used to purchase certain heroes. However a player is only allowed to make one purchase with gold, therefore they have to decide which one they want to do, build, upgrade or purchase a hero. Shards are victory points and can help the player win the game. When the last of these is taken from the Crystal Pool, the end of the game is triggered.

Before moving on to the cleanup phase, I need to explain a few other things. First off there are 3 Enlightenment bonuses that occur through the game. Each of the bonuses show up on the bottom left corner of a card. The bonuses are currency, training and production. When a hero that has one of these bonuses shows up in the center row, the effect happens immediately for all players. For monsters with one of these bonuses, the effect happens when they’re defeated. Currency grants each player 2 gold. Training allows each player to either lower a training counter by 2 or to lower a training counter by 1 and then begin training a new hero. Production allows each player to lower a production counter by 2.

The other thing to mention is Runestones. These are special things that some dwarven heroes can activate. When a runestone is activated, the player rolls a six sided die and checks the rune chart on their player aid for the effect. There are 3 levels of runestones which increase the rewards the higher the level.

The last phase is the cleanup phase. In this phase, the player places any cards, remaining in their hand or that they used during the previous phase, into their discard pile. They then draw 5 cards from their deck, reshuffling the discard pile if the deck runs out. Any unspent wisdom, attack power or magic is lost.

The game continues until the last shard is taken from the Crystal Pool. Once this happens play continues until the player that went last ends their turn. Players then add up all their shards and victory points they gained from their cards. They also add 1 point for every 5 gold that they have. Players compare their victory point total. The player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
Before I delve into the parts and pieces of the game, let me mention that this is a Game Crafter version of the game. That means that the components are basically the quality of what you would expect from them. First off there are the cards which make up the bulk of the game. The quality is actually quite nice and they look pretty cool. However it should be noted that while the artwork is quite unique and interesting, some of the artwork on the cards looks a bit compressed, like the sizing wasn’t exactly right when the designs were finalized. In my opinion, it’s like you were trying to resize an image for something and the picture wound up looking squashed. Not a major problem, just a little distracting from the overall design. The dice are a bit on the smaller side than your ordinary dice, but this actually works out nicely as they are mainly used as counters to be placed on the cards. I found that to be a pretty cool idea. The red and white shards are your normal plastic crystals that you might find in a game of Ascension. They’re just a little bit smaller than the ones you’d find in that game, but still really well made. The player aid/spell charts are thick cardboard and double sided with all the information you need. These are rather nice as well. The final pieces are the gold piece tokens. The images on them looks nice with each one having a different back to them. The one problem is that some of them aren’t aligned properly so they wind up looking weird. Not only that but the cardboard tries to peel back on the outer layers if you’re not careful while punching them out of the sheet. Also, the color of the 1 and 5 piece tokens are so close, it’s kind of hard to distinguish the two apart. You basically have to flip them over to the side with the number on it to be able to tell them apart. Again, nothing major just something to be aware of when playing the game. All in all, there are some problems but nothing that you can’t look past.
6 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is quite nice. It’s got a glossy finish on every page. It starts off with an overview into the history of the game along with the Ancient prophecy. From there you get into components and setup, along with a great looking setup diagram for how the game should look. Each card type is then broke down into great detail from heroes and artifacts to buildings and monsters. Also included in there is a breakdown of the spells and the spell chart. At this point the book gets into the real meat of the game, breaking down all the different phases and how each one works. The last page consists of the credits, including a listing of where each card image was taken from online. The back of the book has a reference guide, including a legend of the different symbols used in the game as well as a rune chart and breakdown of turn order. There aren’t a whole lot of picture through the book but the ones that are there look nice. Everything is really easy to read. There will be a bit of flipping back to the rules while playing the game but everything is laid out easy enough to find what you’re looking for. Overall, it’s pretty well designed and looks good.
7 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
When I first opened this game, I felt like I had seen it before. It wasn’t until I started reading through the rulebook that I realized that I had. This game relies heavily on ideas introduced in several different deck builders, including Ascension, Thunderstone and Dominion, mashed together into one game. Rather well, I must say. The starting card setup looks surprisingly like that of Thunderstone or Dominion, while the idea of using the shards as well as the rulebook layout looks sneakingly like Ascension. Look, I’m not complaining. I actually really enjoy those games, being a huge fan of deck builders myself but what do I think about this one? Personally, I like it. It does a really good job of taking the best parts of each of those games and turning them into a cohesive game experience. I like that there are different curriencies used in the game so that you’re not relying on just one like in the DC Deck Building game. I also like that there are building to help upgrade your deck engine. Depending on the strategy that you choose to use, there are different buildings and spells to help make that a possibility. I really like that while the game starts out like pretty much any other deck builder, by starting with a similar deck of 10 cards, that’s where the similarities stop. What direction you choose to go in will then determine how your deck will progress and evolve. Do you upgrade certain heroes to increase your gold, wisdom, attack power or spells, or do you work on building and upgrading buildings? There’s so many different directions that you as a player can go that the possibilities are limitless. Yes, as I said, there are similarities to other deck builders but then again, don’t most deck builders do similar things? In any event, I really enjoyed the game. It’s a rather refreshing and unique mashup of the things I like best about deck builders. The one thing that I didn’t mention, that I feel I should is the odd theme. I’m not really familiar with many of the terms or names that are present on the cards, names like Shangha, Navaka and Thalapathi. I can only assume they are Hindu or some thing of that nature, just something to be aware of.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Storms of Shambhala is a medium weight deck building game with a mythical/religious theme. The game takes about an hour to play which is a bit more than most deck builders tend to last. The artwork and components for this game are good but not the best they could be, coming from the Game Crafter they’re not bad though. The problems are the gold tokens try to peel off the outer layers and the artwork on the cards look a bit squashed. Nothing that will cause you to stress out but they are a bit distracting. I do like the designs and feel of the game despite the minor flaws. The gameplay is actually quite fun, intertwining the best parts of several different deck building games into one. I really enjoy playing this and like the different engine building paths that you can choose to go off on. Fans of deck builders like Ascension, Dominion and Thunderstone should really enjoy this one as it takes portions of each of those and melds them into a great playing game. I really enjoyed the game and would recommend giving it a try. Even if you’ve found yourself jaded with other deck building games, this one adds a fresh look and take to the genre without getting too far away from the core mechanics that made it popular. Take a look at this one, you just might like it.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out Mythos Method at their site.

http://www.mythosmethod.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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