Written by Guest Reviewer – Michael Guigliano
I had the honor of previewing a new card game: Imperium Chronicles Combat Card Game, with game design and artwork by William Mitchell. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented Starter Pack materials. Enjoy!
Imperium Chronicles Card Combat, designed by William Mitchell, is a card game for two players. These players take turns being the “attacker”, playing one unit card per round, and possibly enhancing that unit’s strength, if you are the attacking payer, or its defense, if you are the defending player. Once both players pass, the attacking unit’s total strength is compared to the defending unit’s total defense. The attacking player gets the point if their unit’s total attack value is equal to or greater than the defending unit’s total defense value. However, if the defending unit’s defense is greater than the attacking unit’s strength, the defending player gets the point. First player to 10 points wins! This 10 point threshold can be adjusted, as desired, for shorter or longer games.
“But Mike, what’s included in this ‘Starter Pack?'”, you ask? Thanks for asking!
The “Starter Pack” comes with everything two players need to start playing. The 108 cards are broken down into different types. 5 of the cards contain the rules. 1 card represents the “attacker” for the current round. The remaining 102 cards will make up each players game deck. These cards contain unit cards, attack modifier cards, and defense modifier cards. I will go into more detail about the cards in a little bit, but for now just know that these 102 cards are all shuffled up and distributed evenly between the two players.
“Ok. So how do you play?” Glad you asked.
The 102 cards is divided into two piles. From there, players now construct their game deck, draw a hand of seven cards, and take turns playing, and possibly enhancing, a “unit” card from their hand of seven cards. Let’s take a look at the different cards included in the game.
Unit Cards: These consist of 18 Creatures, 18 Feran/Roahttu, and 18 Warlocks. Each of these cards have a certain attack type; Melee or Ranged. Each attack type is followed by a more specific type of attack; Blunt, Energy, Explosive, Kinetic, Pierce, and Slash. Every round each player will be playing one unit card of their choice, with the attacking player playing their unit first. This gives the defending player a little bit of wiggle room in playing their defender for the round. The base attack and defense values of these cards range from 1 to 6. From there, each unit can be modified by using (you guessed it) the modifying cards.
Attack Modifiers: Made up of 30 cards, these represent ways to increase a unit’s attack value. Each cards has a value of “+1” or “+2” listed with a certain type of attack that it modifies. For example, the “Laser Carbine” has a “+2 Att for Energy”, meaning that when played to modify an attacker with “Energy” as it’s attack type, the Carbine will add 2 to the unit’s attack value. Each attack modifier has one specific type that each card will modify. One attack modifier is played each turn, as long as it is modifying a proper unit, until the attacking player chooses to “pass” in order to end their turn.
Defense Modifiers: These 18 cards do exactly the same thing as the attack modifier cards, but with defense values. The values range from “+1” to “+3”, and each modify at least two different types, some with three different types. For instance, “Battle Armor” will add “+1 Def vs ALL Melee, +2 Def vs Kinetic & Explosive, and +3 Def vs Energy.” I’m sure you completely understand what these all mean, after reading the explanation of the attack modifier cards, but just in case, I will explain further. “+1 Def vs ALL Melee” means that the defending unit gets +1 to their defense total if they a defending against an attacking unit with “Melee” listed. “+2 Def vs Kinetic & Explosive” means that the defending unit will get a +2 bonus to their defending total if defending against an attacking unit with “Kinetic” or “Explosive” listed. Anyone want to guess what “+3 Def vs Energy” will do for the defending unit? Anyone? Bueller…? Bueller…?
Now, there are only two simple rules the players must follow when constructing their game deck from the 51 cards they are dealt…
Rule number one: The deck must have a minimum of 30 cards, with a max of 60, if combining multiple starter decks.
Rule number two: Each card’s “Tier” limits how many of that card can be in the deck.
“Simple? But Mike, you never mentioned anything about ‘Tiers’ on the cards.”
I was getting to that next…
Each card in the game has a ‘tier” system, which limits the number of each card that can be in the deck. (See. I said I was getting to it.)
For example, The “Sentry – Warlock Minion” card has a tier 3, represented by the Roman numeral “III” in the upper left corner. This means that a player’s game deck cannot have more than three of that card. The “Major Hauer – Warlock Boss” card has the Roman numeral “I” in the upper left, meaning only one of that card can be in the game deck. It is possible for players to play with multiple “Starter Decks”, which would really help the player develop a well-rounded game deck. This is where the tier system will really come into play (pun intended).
I went over this before, but after all this new information about “tiers” and “modifiers”, let’s go over the game play again. Once players construct their game deck, following the two “simple” rules, an attacking player is determined through whichever means the players see fit (flip of a coin, highest pips on a die roll, rochambeau). Each player draws seven cards from their respective decks. The first player is the “Attacker” and will play a unit card from their hand to act as their attacking unit for the round. Play passes to the other player, acting as the “defender” for the round, playing a unit card to act as their defending unit. Each of these cards will be the player’s only unit card throughout each of the rounds. Once the unit cards have been determined, the players take turns modifying their units by playing the modifying cards, “attack modifier” cards if you are the “Attacker” player, and “defense modifier” cards if you are the defending player. Each round continues back and forth, until both players pass. It could be possible that one of the players cannot, or chooses not to, play any attack or defend cards, while the other players could play multiple cards in a round before passing. Once both players have passed, the attacking player adds up their unit’s attack value. The defending player adds up their unit’s defense value. Each round’s point goes to the attacker, if the total attack value is equal to or greater than the defense value, or to the defending player, if the defense value is greater than the attack value. After the point is given, the “Attacker” card is passed to the other player, switching roles for the next round. All cards that were played during the round are discarded to each player’s own discard pile. Each player then draws back up to seven cards. The new attacking player plays a new unit card, as their attacker. Then, the new defending player plays a unit card to act as their defender for the round. If a player’s game deck runs out of cards, simply reshuffle the discard pile to create a new game deck.
Here’s an important rule to remember when drawing your hand of seven cards: If none of the cards in your hand is a unit card, the player must (yes, must) discard one card from their existing hand of seven cards. Then, that player draws the top card of their game deck, discarding the drawn card until a unit card is drawn.
The components are good. The cards have a nice feel to them, and have a decent thickness. As with most black-bordered cards, these will end up showing use and whitening if not sleeved. As it is a compact package, the use of the “Attacker” card, to denote the attacking player for the round, and the use of the cards to display the rules, makes this game easy to take along with you on trips, or to your local game night. My copy came with a clear plastic band around the cards, but they can easily fit in a deck box of some kind, to make transport simple.
Rating: 7 of 10
I really appreciate the rules being on the cards, instead of some folded piece of paper. The rules are easy to understand, and delivered in a way which made learning the game easy. Some rule cards include a picture describing the unit card features. Sometimes an image can make understanding things even better. The rules cards are labeled with “Page 1”, “Page 2”, etc. This makes keeping them in order a breeze. Breeze, I tell ya!
Rating: 9 of 10
The gameplay is easy enough to learn and, for a quick card game, has just the right level of “thinky” to it. It’s not ground-breaking, by any means. However, there is an element of bluffing and guessing, which can really make the game more interesting. Luck plays a factor, as you are severely limited to the seven cards you draw for your hand. I can imagine that the deck building will make the game even better, as you construct a deck that has perfect synergy for the factions you decide to take into battle. For example, playing a low defense value defender may, or may not, be the only unit you have in your hand. To the attacker, this looks like an easy point for them, seeing that their unit’s attack value is 4, to your defense value of 1, so they pass for the turn, knowing they have this one in the bag. The defending player starts to show that evil grin, as the attacking player fell right into their trap! The defending player just happens to have two “+1 Def vs Melee” defense modifier cards, and a “+3 Def vs Energy”…both of which are represented in the attacking unit! Final score or the round: Attacker 4, Defender 5. Point goes to the defender! I think this adds a certain element to the game that wasn’t really apparent at first. After playing the game a few times, this strategy showed itself, and I liked it!
Rating: 7 of 10
Imperium Chronicles Combat Card Game is a fun two player game, that is super portable, and easy to learn. It puts two players against each other in a quick turn-based battle. the cards are good. The game play is good, with just enough strategy to keep it from being too easy, but at the same time, limits the players to a seven card hand, with no hand manipulation. This may turn people off to the game play. I like how each player constructs their game deck, giving the player the opportunity to make it as random or as focused as they want. Having the ability to combine two starter decks worth of cards would give the players even more control over their game deck.
Rating: 7 of 10
The game is available through DriveThruCard’s print on demand service.
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