It happened in the country on the edge of the ocean. Its location on the coast guaranteed, that you will meet a lot of different creatures and breeds you have never seen. They arrived here across the sea on boats, rafts or in barrels. It does not matter. Yet country managed to keep peace, because the king had a powerful amulet named Slávika in his possession. It held all the bad intentions at bay.
But the King fell ill and it weakened force of the amulet. Its influence decreased so much, that some shadow sneaked into the castle and stole it. No one knows, what happened to this mysterious amulet, but many valiant men went looking for it. So far no one has returned with success and the forces of darkness are gathering momentum. Everywhere werewolves, sirens, and other servants of evil began to emerge, threatening to subvert the entire kingdom. Five families put together their forces to hold them. But they can not last for long. Monsters are coming every day and their goal is simple – keep them from getting into castle long enough, so amulet could be found. And whoever stops most of enemies, may even get a hand of kings daughter. A princess!
This is a story, which tells us Slávika, new card game coming to Czech market (an all other markets around the world) from the north, from Poland. It is published by REBEL.pl company, which has already prepared us more a surprises – for example great Draco (review), climbers K2 (review) or strategic City Tycoon (review). And this year their hits are once again prepared for launch and Slávika is first of them.
The author of Slávika is Marcin Welnicki. It is his second game after End of Atlantis, which, however, did not leave Polish borders. Jarek Nocon on the other hand, is experienced illustrator and contributed not only to the three already mentioned games from REBEL.pl, but his images are on REBELpl news for this year. Slávika itself is hot novelty right now, because it was published in September 2012.
Slávika belongs to the category of adventure card games, which is also consistent with the relatively small size of the box, like for example Colossal Arena (Czech review) – a small oblong box oriented in height.
There are two compartments inside, located on the sides and on top of them, there are several boards for players and of course a small handbook of rules. These boards have five different symbols on the back, corresponding to families, who tries to stop the monster. Each of coat of arms has a different color, but when you turn boards around, they are all the same on their front side. There are two scales, one from zero to nine and the other for scoring after decades (10, 20, 30… 100).
You will also punch out a few small tokens for each of the families. There are a total of two in each color, one goes on the top part of the scoring board, while the other on the bottom. Together they create the number of victory points gained.
The rest of the components is quite typical for this type of game. We are of course talking about cards. Deck contains one hundred and ten cards and also five player reference cards, which clearly explain all icons and symbols found on both heroes and monster cards.
You can easily split remaining cards into four groups according to different back side. The most interesting for you, as a player, are definitely family cards. Each house has a unique character and fighters with unique picture. All have exactly the same number – six heroes, who will go to battle with evil. Two warriors, one magician, thief, archer and ranger. Everybody will have to add his heroes power against enemy invasion on different places of your land.
Some of these hereos are male and others female characters, which will please women among board gamers. The cards are interesting in one more thing – they all have names in Polish to preserve a Slavic atmosphere. In rules, you will find part explaining each individual monsters. Their names also remain without translation. Author is even trying to teach the whole world Polish pronunciation on the last page of rules.
In addition to heroes cards, most cards in numbers are monsters to fight. The cards have no name, there is only image, several icons and sometimes a special skill. And of course their strength in upper left corner.
The rest of cards is oriented horizontally. The most important thing here are six-sided cards of locations, where the battles will take place. Each location card contains a series of numbers. There are two on sides – the skull shows, how many monsters will have to be there before they attack, while number to the right, with a shield icon indicates, how large can a group of heroes be. Only that much fighters can defend this place.
In the upper left corner of a location card, you will find a reward for enduring enemy attack here, and indication of number of hidden treasures. Some of these cards hold also important information regarding number of players, when this card is used. Interestingly, there is a card for two and three players, which you will not use in five.
The rest of the cards form deck of fifteen treasures and five moon cards. Both groups, however, share the same back, which tells us, that you should shuffle them together at the beginning of the game and create a common deck. And it’s true. We have therefore taken the first step towards preparation of our first match.
Now you must specify the number of players, who are participating in the game and accordingly choose the right location cards. You must spread them in the center of the table, because they form the foundation of the entire battlefield. They will be base for attaching monster and heroes to their left and right side. You have to also put a treasure card secretly under location, representing a buried treasure.
Each of the opponents chooses one family, and accordingly takes its corresponding scoring board, two tokens and six hero cards. Everything in family coat of arms. One chip is placed on zero and the other is not used now, until you reach ten points. And now we have to deal with one missing deck – monsters are shuffled and make up one drawing deck. But surprisingly, each of players gets five monster cards straight into his playing hand.
Slávika is interesting in a way, that players actually fight together to save the kingdom. They play cards with a common goal to defeat the monsters. But they also seek out to make the most out of each battle, get trophies and also treasures.
When you turn begins, you have actually quite simple task to do. All rounds consist in fact of only same activity – playing cards in one of possible locations. And yet there is a lot of decisions and options, that you need to cope with and which will we now talk about.
Player can in one of his turns lay up to three cards and add them to the center of the table to some locations of his choice. In first phase, he must play one of his heroes and send him to defend one place. It can be attached only is such location, where is still in place and hero limit for this battleground was not reached. At one point there can be (and will be) heroes of multiple players in each location. It may happen, that player does not hold any of his fighter right now. In this case, this third of turn is skipped completely.
The second stage gives player a chance to play another hero, if he has one in his hands. Now is his choice of destinations narrowed – fighter can not be dispatched to the same location as the former one. Players choice is thus always one location poorer, than before. But this time, action is not skipped, when he holds no heroes. He has to play a monster instead. This card goes to other side of location and also here both limitations apply – monster limit and also another location, than first card.
Last third of the turn is already mandatory playing of single monster. At the end of his turn, a player draws from monster deck back up to five cards.This usually ends his move.
Players take turns and send monsters and heroes to available spaces. It all works out up to the point, when some of the places reaches its monster limit. Game is now immediately interrupted and the fight evaluates, because monsters plucked up courage and attacked heroes, no matter how many there were. Therefore defenders have to add up attack value of their heroes, and compare it with power of attacking monsters. Heroes win, if they were able to at least match the strength of their opponents.
Now is the time to divide the glory printed on the card. The family, which contributed the largest sum of strength to battle, receives the highest number listed on the left. The second house in the sequence gets a little lower, and the third family raises reputation only by a symbolic amount of glory. Best fighters also get for themselves an extra treasure and uncover its value, which will shift their glory on the scoring board even further.
All the opponents take their heroes back in their hand, turn the card location to the other side, where are slightly different values and the game continues. Time is running, battle after battle heroes try to buy enough time to find the amulet. When players uncover fourth month card among the treasures, the rivalry ends immediately and all opponents comparing acquired fame. The player with the highest value is the winner.
Slávika is a nice adventure and simple card game at the same time. Players must cooperate to a certain extent in order to get some points. At the same time, they can harm opponents and send dangerous monsters towards theirs heroes and make them lose.
But except for simple strength, cards also contain icons indicating special skills. For some enemies, all winning participants will receive a bonus reward, while other enemies force a hero to escape or prevent characters using their special abilities.
Yes, we did not tell you? Each of heroes is blessed with some skill, that helps him in his fight against evil. For example, archer‘s arrows weakens all strong enemy units. He lowers their strength to four in all cases.
In addition also some sites have a special icon, which improves the ability of specific units. For example all werewolves get plus one for power, if you are fighting in their hillside. Or somewhere else, you are unable to use your archers shooting ability.
The game uses a simple system of attaching cards to locations. We have already encountered this mechanic in Blood Bowl Team Manager (review). Yet the decision of players is reduced in several directions, thus preparing them difficult choices. They can put only one card in each place, while some others are often blocked by the maximum number of characters. Sometimes you lose a turn or are forced to play the card to one specific place.
These tough choices keep the entire game interesting. You must take into account special abilities of your heroes, and the sum of enemy forces. Does this group of heroes have a chance to win? Maybe if you send your strongest warrior. But even so I will not be in the first place for rewards. It is worth it?
Graphics on the cards is really nice and the illustrations are really right touch for adventure, although they are not exceptional. Game itself is not exactly about fighting. It tells a story how to prepare battle for a win. Although there is not many different monster species inside the deck, the game itself does not detract from the fun and does not lack variability.
And because players must work together to defend their kingdom, they must also interact with each other. But in addition, there is one character, who disrupts any alliance. Thief. He can steal treasure from the strongest family after winning the battle. Interesting character is a monster traitor, which acts as a hero, but has zero power. If you send it to battle, you block a room for one hero with it and upset your rivals.
The game has a very variable end and thus also game time. However it usually does not exceed thirty minutes, when you are familiar with the game and its iconography. You never know, when the fourth moon will appear. All moon cards can be in the upper part of the treasure deck, or you can wait for the end until the entire deck is depleted. That means you can even go through the whole monster deck.
Slávika could be fun with two players as well, because the game contains less locations. But struggle for place on battlefield are not as tough as they could be. They start to work better with three players, when card amount stays the same. In four or five players, game starts to be more about picking, where to go this time, because of much more options to go to. But do not get us wrong, Slávika is a nice and fun strategic game even in two, just not as good, as with more.
Fewer players also relate to one problem – locations get to score most of the time only at in moments, when players do not have any heroes in their hands. And in moments exactly preceding these evalutaions, you often get into situation, when your have to lay your fighter somewhere, where you do not want to put it. You have two in your hand and you want to keep one. But you have no choice, but to play them both, because you have to play not only in first part of your turn, but also during the second. It may be better to have a chance to decide, whether to play hero or monster in middle phase. But this situation does not happen so often, if you are playing with more rivals.
You have to sacrifice your hero for quite a time sometimes, because it takes a while, before the place gets filled with monsters. So being the first one to go is not the best. But the sacrifice of one of the characters against evil is worth it.
The second complaint is directed to the point boards. It’s not easy to use them to record your points, when you need to skip by a larger number. Then its better to add up numbers in your head and rebuild tokens according to it. Shifting of the tens and ones separately is very confusing. And scale reaches only up to 109 victory points, which is not enough.
Slávika brings interesting experiences for a simple adventurous card game. It has a very, very simple game system, where you just play card after card. Despite this simplicity, you still have lots of ways to strategize and outwit your opponents, as you choose, not only where to send heroes, but also monsters. However, you can easily spoil the plans of your rivals. This game adds a lot of conflicting tinge with blocking and special abilities, but the use of these options depends on the nature of players. You could have a peaceful match of Slávika and have fun too. Game is not as good for two players as is with more opponents, but still worth a try even with this number, if you have a chance to bring someone else to the table from time to time. Now raise your sword and buy your kingdom some time!
Slávika is an adventure card game, which brings you in charge of one vengeful family, standing against constant enemy attacks. You must hold on for so long, so other heroes are able to find mystic protection amulet. Players send not only heroes of their color to locations, but also their foes. They are able to decide, which one will go where, but they cannot send more than one card to one place during single turn. This opens up lots of strategic options, which are based on the way battles are evaluated. Only victor with the most power can gain really big award for his actions. And the one, who gathers the most glory of all, gets the victory. Processing and variability of the game is guaranteed by shuffling of monster and treasury cards and also a different length of the match. But this can go even to extremes, because the end is summoned by a fourth moon of cards shuffled into treasury deck. The game is not so perfect with two, because it sometimes forces player into decisions, which are not good for him. And points counting is not done easily on the player board, while it even is not high enough for some possible game scores. But all these problems are quite small and should not lower your meaning about otherwise nice and balanced game. Slávika is a card adventure, which will you really enjoy..
Reader Rating0 Votes
interesting way of playing heroes and monsters together
simple card game
two-sided location cards
special skills of monsters and heroes
players have to work together from time to time
place for treachery
game length varies too much
player is sometimes (in two player game) forced to do things he does not want to do
victory point counter is hard to increment and it reaches only to 100 points