Emergents: Genesis Review

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Emergents: Genesis is a game by Anthony Conta, Brian David-Marshall and Matthew Wang, published by Urban Island Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of an Emergent, a super powered individual, who has been located and recruited so that they might be trained to hone their special abilities at the newly created academy known as The Phaeton Project. They will use various actions and gear to upgrade themselves as they battle each other. The last Emergent standing will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player is given a set of 9 focus cards and 3 punch cards which are shuffled together to form their starting deck. The remaining starter cards are returned to the box. Players will also choose or be randomly dealt an Emergent Avatar card. The remaining Avatar cards are also returned to the box. The player is then given a HP tracker. It is suggested to grab some coins or cubes from another game to place on the HP tracker. The Can’t Stop, Clear Mind, Oust and Tackle cards are placed in individual stacks in the center of the table to form The Panel. The remaining cards are then shuffled together and placed face down near the Panel to form The Book. The Page is then formed by drawing the top 6 cards of the Book and placing them face up beneath the Panel. The first player is chosen. That player starts with 3 less Health Points, which should be noted on their HP Tracker. All players draw the top 6 cards of their deck to form their starting hand. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will play cards, acquire new cards and use abilities. When a card is played, it is placed face up in front of the player. The card’s effect is resolved immediately. The player will play cards to generate an attack, generate skill and put gear into play. When a card with an attack value is played, an attack is generated. The player chooses an opponent to attack and combat takes place. The opposing player will take damage up to the attack’s power. However it should be noted that when an attack card is played, it is done by playing one card at a time. This allows the opposing player to defend or counter if so desired or if able. Defending is done by the opposing player playing a card with the Defend tactic on it. This negates damage up to the defend tactic’s number. Countering is done by the opposing player playing a card with the Counter tactic on it. This allows them to prevent a number of damage equal to the counter tactic’s number and then attack the original attacker with that same tactic number. Playing cards can also generate skill. Skill is the currency that is used to purchase other cards. We’ll talk about that in a moment. For now, all you need to understand is that any skill value that is produced from playing a card is added to the player’s skill pool for that turn. Finally playing cards can also allow the player to put a gear into play. Gear cards are weapons and equipment cards that help to enhance the player’s avatar. These cards are placed beside the player’s avatar and are not discarded at the end of the player’s turn. Gear cards have an ability that the player is allowed to use as long as they are able to pay the cost or fulfill the criteria.

Another thing that the player can do on their turn is acquire new cards. Earlier I mentioned how that some cards generate skill which is placed into the player’s skill pool for the turn. These skill points are used to acquire actions or gear cards from the Page or the Panel. To do this, the player simply states which card they are purchasing and pays the skill cost to acquire it. The new card is placed in the player’s discard pile.

The last thing a player can do is use abilities. Abilities can come from a gear card or from the player’s avatar. To use an ability the player must state that they are using the ability and fulfill any costs or requirements. The effect from the ability is then resolved.

Once a player has played cards and used any abilities that they chose to use, the player ends their turn by following a set of steps. First any unused skill left in the player’s skill pool is lost. The player then discards any cards remaining in their hand into their discard pile along with any cards that the player played during their turn. The player then draws a new hand of 6 cards. If there comes a time when the player must draw a card and there are no more cards left in their deck, the player must shuffle their discard pile and place it face down to start a new deck. Play then passes to the next player.

The game continues with players attacking each other. When a player’s Health Points are reduced to zero, that player is knocked out and eliminated. The game ends once there is only one player left standing and all the other players have been eliminated. That player is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
The game consists of a fairly large stack of cards. The artwork on these is absolutely gorgeous. They looked like they jumped off the page of a comic book and landed on the cards. I’m blown away at the coolness of these and love the look. I would definitely read a comic based on these characters. The card stock is really nice and sturdy too. Of course with this being a deck builder, you’ll probably want to sleeve everything, just in case. The one thing that bothers me though is that there is a HP tracker card but nothing included to keep track of it with. There are no little cubes or tokens included to handle this and nothing to use as willpower tokens. Of course you can use pennies or cubes of your own, but that isn’t thematic and it doesn’t look as good either. This is one area that I feel like the mark was missed. It doesn’t take away from the game itself, it’s just a pain to deal with. Thankfully the cards make up for the lack of tokens.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
Let me start of by saying that the book looks great. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. The artwork is really great and compliments the game quite well. The book starts with the story behind the Emergents and who they are. From there, we move onto the quick start rules. If you’ve ever played a deck building game, especially one from Cryptozoic, then you understand the basic concepts and would pretty much be able to muddle through after just having read this section. Of course to fully understand the differences and the iconography you’d need to finish reading. Also there are a few things that aren’t mentioned in the quick start rules that you’d need to figure out, like that you draw 6 cards, not 5 in Cryptozoic’s deck builders. In other words, read all the instructions. You’ll understand things so much better. The book covers things pretty well. There were a few things that I had to search to find on the BGG. Things that I didn’t understand, but I’ll go more into that part in the gameplay section. I do feel like there were some really important ideas and concepts that were omitted that should have been there. If I hadn’t been so interested in the game, I probably wouldn’t have hunted for it. I will say though that the various card types are explained fairly well and I like that there’s a glossary of the many different terms used in the game, as well as a faq section. All of that is really nice. I just wish that everything had been a bit clearer.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
It’s no secret that I love deck builders. Add in a healthy dose of super heroes to the mix and when I was asked to review this one, it was a no brainer. In many ways this game plays like any of the Cerberus Engine games from Cryptozoic, no relation. However there are a few differences that make things a bit, well for lack of a better term, different. First off each Avatar has their own class type. The game has 4 class types, either Acolyte, Non-Stop, Sculptor or StrongHarm. Think of it this way, Batman Flash, Green Lantern and Superman. Got it? Good. Each card in the game will work with one of these types. So if you’re playing a StrongHarm like Moxie, most likely you’re gonna want to buy cards that compliment her class. Not that you can’t buy cards from the other groups, cause you can, just that you’re more likely to find cards that combo off of each other in your avatar’s class. When you discover one of these combos, it’s really exciting. I love that moment when you’re analyzing the cards in your hand and you realize that you’ve got a killer move combo that you can completely own your opponent with. It’s really sweet. Gear cards are like that too. Any character class can buy gear cards from any other class, but the ones that are from your same class will most likely be more beneficial to you. Just so you know. In any event, I love the theme for this game. I really like the many different characters that you can choose to play as. I would read comics about these characters in a heart beat. With such a wide variety of characters to choose from, there’s tons of replayability. The colorful characters and cards even drew my daughter to check out the game, which she loves by the way. She has even pummeled me quite heavily using Moxie. I swear, that girl beats me every time. Fans of the deck building genre, especially games like the DC Deck Building Game, should really enjoy this one. For me, the game works best as a 2 player game. Not that you can’t play with more, I just really like the duel like combat style of playing 2 player. The game doesn’t take long either. You can pretty much get through a game in like 30 minutes. For me, this is an excellent game that I really enjoy.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Emergents: Genesis is a deck building game of heroic proportions. It’s really light and easy to play. Most games can be played in 30 minutes, give or take. As I’ve stated earlier, I love the artwork. The world that these characters come from is truly amazing to behold. Each heroic avatar feels completely unique and different making this game highly replayable. I feel like the game was missing a few components though, as you had to find someway to keep track of your HP using the included tracker card. The rules were a little unclear on several things which were a bit of a negative for me. However a little BGG research made things much clearer. Even with rules problems, the game isn’t difficult. My 6 year old daughter even enjoyed playing it. Fans of the deck building genre, especially games like the DC Deck Building Game should really enjoy this one. It works best, in my opinion, with 2 players. The give and take between characters is quite enjoyable. This is a really great game that I enjoy a lot. I highly recommend it. It’s Super!
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Urban Island Games at their site.

http://urbanislandgames.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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