The Russian game company RightGames sent review copies to just about everybody, it seems. I got a set, and I’ve now played half of the games. So far I’m somewhat impressed.
Potion-making: Practice is a fun game, where cards are both alchemiy ingredients and formulas that combine two or more ingredients into a potion. Cards are formulas in hand and ingredients on table. Every turn you must play one card; if you can’t make a potion (which scores points), you play an ingredient (which scores points if the ingredient is not yet present on board).
Once you get some initial potions done, you can start combining potions to make more valuable potions. Further combinations will result in more points. You can use potions created by someone else, but you’ll award them points as well. Still, you take what you can get.
Very nice game, I liked it a lot. It’s not without problems, though. I found the downtime a bit annoying, and I was playing a two-player game. The game supports up to six players, but I’d say four is maximum and even that requires players that are guaranteed AP-free. This game will just freeze AP-prone players.
The Kingdoms of Crusaders looks like a grim game, thanks to very dark art by Gustave Doré. The game itself is a variant of Battle Line. Players play cards in five battles and the player with the better cards in each battle wins it. Three out of five battles wins the game.
The cards have five colours, one to four colours per card. There are four cards played per battle. If all four cards have the same colour, that’s a regiment. Whoever has more regiments in battle wins it. If both have as many, then the better regiment wins. If that’s tied, then you check battalions (three cards of same colour) and so on.
In practice, there’s going to be a regiment in each battle, because it’s very easy to get one. Two regiments is almost guaranteed to win a battle. The battles are fairly boring and first commitments seem to dictate the results fairly often. Contrast that to Battle Line, where the game is almost always exciting until the very end.
The Kingdoms of Crusaders is not a bad game, but it’s going to suffer from comparison to Battle Line, because it’s not nearly as good as that game. I don’t see why I would choose Crusaders over Battle Line.
If you combine two sets, you can play a four-player game, where three best players in each battle score points (3, 2 and 1). That might be a more interesting game, fighting for the second place if you can’t win would make the battles a lot more interesting. Too bad I only have one copy. I think the game should come with two packs, as that clearly seems to be the more interesting game.