Every hero has a secret. Someone has special shoes, another poison-stained sword and or uses some unconventional blows. But then there are wizards, who have to make do with a magic wand and a book. And yet, they invented their own adjustments. Just shake the book, rotate it in the correct sequence with the right speed and behold, magic suddenly has a completely different effect!
Even at first glance, you’ll notice, that the game belongs to the same world (its kind of suggested by its name) of board game Realm of Wonder, which we have already reviewed. This new box also depicts a heroic battle of figures, but it has a much smaller footprint. And now, this hint would be enough to begin to suspect, that this will be a purely card entertainment.
And it is really so. The only component, that make it out of the box are cards and help cardboard plates. Cards themselves represent tribes (several differentiated by colors) and fifteen regions, which will be fought for. The individual cards are divided into four slices and numbered, with a disc in their midst with part always painted part in blue or red. This determines, what players can do with it.
At the beginning of the game, each participant selects two tribes and shuffles their decks together. Five locations are then spread into the center of table oriented horizontally. Each player draws five cards from their shuffled deck and takes them in his hand.
Each round, both players will have the opportunity to nicely unload five cards from their hand. But they will turns in doing so, using a rotating disc in the middle immediately, after its played. The player selects the first card from his hand and attaches it to one of five (free!) locations in the line. Card always has to start with its arrow (in a single arc) directed towards the middle line.
At that moment, player immediately performs its action by turning it around for prescribed number of degrees. Direction is specified by the color. Blue anticlockwise increase card value, while red card lowers it in clockwise manner (always following number of slices). Cards of individual tribes also have different skills, which can be used before or after rotation. Then again, player draws a card to get his hand back to five.
So gradually opponents play five turns and fills up all the locations. Only then, they need to decide, what happens to places in the middle and who seizes them. And again, they will be rotated, this time by difference in values of both cards lying next to it. Both opponents seek to achieve, that the arrow is pointing towards them. If this happens, player immediately gets the card and places it on his scoring package. Shift always has to be completed as a whole, so players can jump over advantageous position and not get the card, if their action was too powerful.
Both players then discards all remaining cards as well as those played on the table and draws new five. Battle may continue also on same locations. If any space is free, spaces have to be filled by drawing a new location card. Game ends after the fourth round and players add up points in their victory piles. Whoever has most of them wins.
Allies: Realm of Wonder is a surprising duel card game, that focuses all its attention on rotation. Mechanics, which in other games are only accessory, becomes here center of the whole gameplay and lets gamers in on certain level of tactics.
Unfortunately, first problem arises immediately, when you’re trying to learn the game. Translation into English just is not good and there is a lot of uncertainties, that make it impossible to learn the game quickly. On the contrary with the associated questions, simplicity of game is being consumed and initial impression spoiled.
Basis of everything is combining two decks into one. The so-called crashing decks means, that players are trying to link two nations‘ capabilities to make the best use of them. But besides it, luck decides the outcome of each battle, because it all depends on which cards a player has in hand.
Some players may find it difficult to plan and imagine forms of rotation. It is not entirely easy for everyone and many of our colleagues were taken aback by how it all in hand turns around. Rotate the card in the head is just not quite common. At the same time, this element is not only original, but it is also a major attraction for other players.
Game is obviously very simple. Just a few basic rules, that will drive entire game. It is also very quick and several rounds are quickly at the end. Specifically, we’re talking about some fifteen minutes for all four rounds. Players are always part of the game, because each of rivals plays one card at a time and not all at once. Both opponents are constantly turning back and forth and have the opportunity to respond to every move the opponent makes immediately.
Some nations are too strong. Balancing the various races just is not ideal, and if players can make good use of it, they can gain advantage. Successful in reducing these consequences is successful blending of two races in the package, thus each set becomes a little unique and less powerful.
If we talked about the rules with not-so-good words, then actual graphic processing of cards is great. This corresponds to colorful illustrations of the original board game, but it’s going the right way. Design of cards and distribution of elements icons is also well, because there is not too much of these needed.
In this case, Allies: Realm of Wonder is a tactical game for two, which is sufficiently flexible and interesting for two adversaries. It is certainly good, although we have already described several complaints towards it. However, overall its all saved by gameplay, where Allies: Realm of Wonder works.
Allies: Realm of Wonder is a duel game, in which players not only use cards from hand, but mostly rotate them all. Only in this way can they ensure a higher value of their card, which is quite unique and very interesting feature of the gameplay. It provides and also decides, whether you will like Allies: Realm of Wonder or not. For us, it is finally nice game for two, which offers quick fun.