Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows is a game by Seiji Kanai, published by Japanime Games. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will be taking on the role of characters from the Sword Art Online manga/anime as they battle through the realm of <>. In the end if they’re able to make their way through the different levels and defeat the final foe, they will be declared the winners. Otherwise they’ll remain trapped inside the game.
To begin, each player will choose a character to play, taking the corresponding character card and placing it face up in front of themself. Kirito must be chosen by one of the players. When playing solo, Kirito and another character are chosen. If either Lisbeth or Silica are chosen, their corresponding action tokens are given to the player. Any unused characters are returned to the box. The scenario cards are separated into the 3 different section and then each section is shuffled separately. One card for each section is then drawn and placed face down in a column to form the image of <<Aincrad>> with the Final Battle card placed face down at the top of the column. Any remaining scenario cards are returned to the box. The item cards are shuffled together and placed face down near the scenario cards. Each player will also receive an ability usage token which is placed next to their character card with the 1 side face up. The main dice, support dice anad damage tokens are placed within reach of all players. The character dice and Support Card are placed to the side. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
The game is played where the players will be forced to challenge each scenario, leading to the final battle. Starting off, the lower section scenario card is flipped over. If there are several steps to be beaten, the Step Token is placed on the card to show which step the players are on. Each step on the scenario card must be beaten in order for the players to be able to advance to the next scenario. Starting with the Kirito player, each player will take a turn consisting of 6 steps. The first step is to select a chaining partner. This step only occurs when playing with 3 or more players. In a 2 player game, the chaining partner is always the other player. It should be noted that if a character is exhausted, it may not be chosen as a chaining partner. However if all other characters are exhausted, when a player’s turn starts, then all the characters are instantly refreshed. The next step is to roll the dice. The active player rolls some of the main dice while the chaining partner rolls some of the support dice. The number of each is determined by the scenario card. Both players are then able to reroll their dice up to two times. However the dice must be rerolled at the same time. They may also use abilities to change the die results, as long as they have abilities to use. Once both players agree with the results, the next step occurs. In the third step, the active player chooses sword skills. This is done by matching the dice to the particular sword skills on the character card. Any damage dealt by the character is then placed on the card using the damage counters. If the player is able to use up all the rolled dice, then they are able to switch with their partner and can skip the next step. That next step is the counter attack step. In this step the enemy attacks back by dealing as much damage as is indicated on the card, using the damage counters. In the next step, the resolve step, the player checks to see if the enemy has more damage on it then it’s HP. If so, then the damage tokens are removed and the step token is moved to the next step. If the step token was on the last step, then the scenario is defeated. Finally the last step is the turn end step. For this step the play passes over to the chaining partner.
Earlier I mentioned how a player can defeat a scenario. When this happens there are a few steps that must be taken before the next scenario can be challenged. First the players will gain loot from the enemy by drawing and revealing the top card from the item deck. If the item is a piece of equipment, then the players determine who will get it. That player’s character will then be subject to any benefits that the equipment provides. Consumable items can be used by either player. Next the character’s level up. The effect of this varies depending on which section the players cleared. When the lower section is cleared, their HP increases, they learn a new sword skill and they gain their character die. When the middle section is cleared, their HP and abilitiy usage go up and they learn new sword skills. They will also gain the Support Card “Yui”. For defeating the upper section, nothing happens. One note on the character die. This special die may be exchanged for a regular die when rolling. If the character’s face is rolled on this die, it may be treated as any number the player likes. After leveling up, the players will heal by removing all the damage tokens that have been placed on their character card. Any exhausted characters are then refreshed. In addition, skill usage tokens are returned to their max value and power tokens are returned. Finally, the next scenario card is revealed. The character that was the last chaining partner is now the first player for the new scenario.
The game continues until one of two things happens. If any of the characters die during the game, the game ends and the players lose. If the players are able to defeat the final battle, they win. It should be noted that during the final battle, there are a few minor rules changes that must be performed. For more information on this, please consult the rule book.
This game comes with some pretty cool looking pieces. There are several cardboard tokens. There are tokens for damage, ability usage, special powers and the step token. Each one is fairly thick with the iconography that is consistent throughout the game. There are also several card types. There are the large cards for the characters and the different scenarios. There are also smaller square like cards for items and support. These are all a bit thinner than I’d like them to be. It would really have been nicer to have had either a thicker cardstock or possibly even thick cardboard, especially for the characters. I think it just would have looked and felt better. The artwork is pretty interesting though. I’m rather unfamiliar with the anime/manga/video game that this is supposed to be derived from so I can’t comment on how true it is to the actual source material. I’m sure fans of those would probably be able to give a better opinion on those aspects. Still, for what’s there I think it looks pretty good. Finally the game also comes with several sets of dice. There are black and white dice for the main character and support characters. These are pretty much your basic dice. However the game also includes individual character dice, 1 for each character. These are a baby blue color and have a picture of the character on one of the faces and the other faces have different groupings of swords on them. Each design appears to be screen printed on dice. I’m not sure if that means that with repeated play that the images might rub off or wear off. For the moment however, I haven’t seen any signs of that happening. In any case, I think that for the most part everything looks good.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is a large double sided paper that folds up fairly small. There are a few pictures on one side of the paper. There are pictures of both the character cards and the scenario cards with detailed explanations, along with a picture of how to set the game up. There are also several examples of how to play the game which are very helpful. The rules also have a section that explains several of the special effects and a section for adjusting the difficulty level of the game. Overall the rules do a good job of conveying exactly how to play the game without taking up too much time and without being too confusing. For the most part I’m pleased with the rulebook.
8 out of 10
This is a fairly simple game to play. Basically you’re rolling the dice and trying to match up the dice to correspond with each character’s sword skills so that you can damage each step on the scenario card to beat it. In a lot of ways it makes me think of a combat version of Yahtzee. If you’re really good at matching up dice and your lucky at rolling, then you’re able to switch over to your chaining partner and are able to dodge the enemies counter attack. Of course, who’s really that lucky? Each time a scenario is cleared the characters learn more deadly sword skills that are even more difficult to roll correctly. I will say that even though the game is simple to learn, it’s difficult to master and depends on a lot of luck. It can also be fairly hard to beat, especially if the dice rolls just don’t go your way. I think for the most part this game is pretty good. It’s not one that really blew me away but for such a small box game it’s a nice portable filler. I really like the variety of characters that are available and that each one has special sword skills that are unique to them. I like that the game can be played either with other players or solo. I think the solo style of play is the best aspect of the game. I like that I can just throw everything down on the table in a few minutes and start rolling some dice. It’s a great game for playing on your lunch break. The short play time makes it perfect. Overall It’s a good game that I would recommend if you like fillers or short solo games.
8 out of 10
Sword Art Online Board Game: Sword of Fellows is a small box dice game that is quick and simple to play. The game doesn’t take very long at all. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is pretty cool especially on the larger scenario cards. I did have a few issues with some of the components though. The character cards are a bit thinner than I’d like for them to be and the dice seem screen printed which may wear off with repeated plays. The game is fast and simple to play. It makes a nice filler especially for a solo game during a lunch break. In some ways it makes me think of a combat Yahtzee game. Fans of dice games, especially solo ones, should enjoy this one. As I’m not really familiar with the source material, I can’t say whether this is good or bad in those aspects. Overall I would recommend this for players that enjoy fillers and dice games. It’s a nice game that I found to be interesting.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Japanime Games at their site.