06 March 2014

Need a New Card Game

I'm in the market for a new game to play with my wife, and I've been thinking about card games. We both like to play cards, but we're both tired of our old standbys of Gin Rummy and Egyptian Ratscrew. We had tried Dominion, the deck-builder, but ran into some problems. It turns out that she only likes the game when she's winning, and also that we're only having fun when she's having fun. So Dominion got shelved.

But it's not a big deal, since that means we get to try out new games. My go-to game is, and always will be Magic the Gathering. It's a complex game and rich game, with great art, and if you make your own  cube you've turned the game into an LCG.

Of course, if you're going to turn a game into an LCG, then why not just try out one that started as one?

The big three that seem like they'd work best in my home are the Game of Thrones, Warhammer Invasion, and Lord of the Rings.

The Game of Thrones game seems pretty robust. The theme is great, since we both love the Song of Fire and Ice series, and the card art is beautiful. The decks in the starter edition each correspond with the great houses in Westeros, and two more houses are in expansions.

The goal of the Game of Thrones cardgame is to amass 15 power in any combination of military, political, or intrigue. There are plots, characters, titles, and a couple of interesting mechanics. Attack and defense seem especially interesting, and the way gold works seems to be satisfying.

There is (or was) a competitive scene, as well, so there's at least enough depth to sustain that community. That bodes well for its lasting appeal. It might not be the kind of appeal that me and my wife are looking for, but that's still appeal.

Warhammer Invasion is in no way related to the Game of Thrones cardgame, despite sharing the same publisher. The art doesn't seem to be the same level of quality, and the faces are messier and more difficult to read. But it does have its own charm.

Warhammer Invasion focuses on three zones, which either let you attack, draw you more cards, or net you more resources. The goal of the game is to destroy two out of three of your opponents' zones. The game seems simpler than Game of Thrones, which could be perfect for playing after a couple of drinks late at night. The game also seems to run longer than the Game of Thrones cardgame, which might be a problem- but who knows? It's possible that the hour of play seems short when you're in the thick of it, and that we both wish it were longer. As long as it's designed so that the trailing player can catch up with a bit of luck and good decision making, the game should be fine.

The last game I was considering is the Lord of the Rings LCG, which is unique in that it's cooperative. Each player has their own deck with three heroes in it, and the players work together to defeat the challenge deck. In a players' deck are allies, attachments, and events, which they use to try and complete the quest at hand. The players lose if they run up the threat counter (which acts as a sort of timer) or if they die. It's important to balance progression with safety, and offense with defense.

The LoTR game works as a solo game, too, so on the chance that it doesn't hold the wife's interest, at least one of us will get some use out of it.

As a side note, the Lord of the Rings game seems to have the best art, and we both adore the theme. But it's cooperative, which might not have the kind of staying power that will last us a long time. It's hard to tell in advance- she doesn't much like losing, and having us both lose sometimes doesn't seem like much of a way to spend a night. Plus, too, if she gets knocked out early (somehow), who wants to watch me play through the rest of the game solo-style?

It's a hard question, and I'm going to have to scour through a dozen more forums before I think I'll have my answer.There's no sense rushing into a decision that neither of us will appreciate in the long run, and we've got a bit of time to decide.

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