Two player strategy battle games can often be hit or miss. The good ones really shine, but the others might not reach mediocre status. A new contender to this genre of games is Forged Realms, which is currently live on Kickstarter. Thankfully, Forged Realms exceeded expectations and delivered a solid experience, easily earning it a place on my “worth it” list.
Forged Realms elicits all the feelings normally associated with two playing dueling games, but condenses everything down into a short game that is assessable by anyone. When I say condense, it does this in a good way; nothing feels left out. And since there isn’t a collectable aspect, players can’t pay to win. To win, you will have to rely on your skill. But, I don’t want to compare Forged Realms to other dueling games too much, as it really stands on its own with a fresh take on this classic genre.
Each faction deck is preconstructed, which means you can jump right into the game. I believe the Kickstarter campaign will feature six different factions (maybe four, but I think six). The typical “good guy versus bad guy” factions are represented, such as goblins, knights, and undead. To being play, each player chooses a faction deck, shuffles it, takes 3 gems, sets their health to 15, and draws 7 cards.
One of the unique things about Forged Realms is that cards are played in ranks and each round the number of ranks grow, until the maximum of five ranks (five turns) is reached. This means on the first round you’ll only be playing one creature card. On the third round, however, you’ll be able to play up to three creature cards (plus spells). Cards are played facedown, this is true for both creature cards and spells. Since you won’t know what your opponent is going to play, this aspect really keeps you on your toes.
After each player has played their facedown cards, they will reveal them simultaneously. Creature cards have a speed value from 1 to 3. Faster cards do their damage first, directly to the player, which ticks down your health. If both creatures have the same speed though, no damage is applied. Comparing speed and applying damage always takes place first. Some cards have “When Revealed” effects, which happen directly after the speed damage is resolved. The “When Revealed” effects are varied, but some examples include: drawing cards, dealing extra damage, gaining health, boosting other creature card stats, on so on.
Spells card be played on their own row, behind the creature cards, or played in the creature row. When played in the creature row, the spell doesn’t have a Speed value, so if a creature was revealed, it would be able to deal damage to you. The spell’s ability then triggers as if it had “When Revealed” added to its text. Some spells are one shots, while others remain in play and have lasting effects.
In later rounds, when there are multiple ranks and creatures on the table, after the new rank is revealed the creatures/spells in the older ranks will activate and attack in order from newest rank to oldest rank. During this engagement step, the creatures will deal damage to each other based on their attack value (and other abilities). If a creature suffers more damage than it has health, it is discarded from play.
At the end of the round, you’ll resolve any “End of Turn” effects. This all occur at the same time. The timing rule is that a player or card that has multiple effects or abilities targeting them gets to decide the order those effects are resolved. Play continues for five rounds, unless the game is ended early due to health loss or running out of cards to draw. Either of these conditions is cause for defeat. At the end of the fifth round, whoever has the most health is the winner.
Forged Realms is one of the better dueling games I’ve played. I really like the blind play aspect as it makes the game exciting and adds a level nice level of tension. The limited number of turns is great for those not wanting a long, drawn out game. For those that want a bitter battle to the end, simply remove the five round rule and go at it. I’m also a fan of the preconstructed deck aspect, as it makes Forged Realms readily accessible to anyone.
The cards in each deck work really well together and have a lot of synergy. Here is just one example: Let’s say you have a Knight of the Order in play, which has the Keyword “Armored”. You also have the Tower Knight in play, which also has the “Armored” keyword. Then you reveal a Knight Squire which has a “Knight’s Banner” When Revealed ability that for each Knight in play, you draw 1 card and gain 1 Health. Nice. If you also have Border Keep in play, at the end of the round you’ll also draw 1 card and gain 1 health since you have at least one Knight in play. As your spell for this rank, if you played Knight’s Codex, you’d be able to draw two cards, one for each Knight in play. There are also spells such as Swift Repairs and Press the Fight that look for Armored creatures. I really like that the decks allow for powerful combos.
Forged Realms is a legit contender in the two player dueling card game category. Fans of Magic: The Gathering, the Marvel Versus System, Epic Card Game, and others in this genre will feel right at home with Forged Realms. With multiple factions to choose from, there is a ton of replayability. The preconstructed nature means it is easy to jump into Forged Realms, but the card abilities and how they work together means Forged Realms offers deep strategy as well. I highly suggest you go check out the Kickstarter campaign for Forged Realms. If you are a fan of two player dueling games, you won’t be let down.