Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tabletop Review: Defenders of the Realm

I had some friends over the other night and we played our first game of Defenders of the Realm. I had first heard of this game a few months ago, and had been wanting to try it. I picked up a copy at PAX, and couldn't wait to play it.

Defenders of the Realm is a fantasy based co-operative board game, for 1-4 players ages 13 and up. An average game takes about 2 hours. As a co-operative game, the players work together to a common goal - the game has similar mechanics as Arkham Horror, if you are familiar with that game. The art for the game is all done by Larry Elmore, and it is awesome!


Each player takes the role of a Hero (Cleric, Dwarf, Eagle Rider, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, or Wizard) and you must defend the King and save the lands from the Evil Bad Guys (Balazarg, Gorgutt, Sapphire, and Varkolak)

The game comes in a large box with a ton of stuff:
  • Rulebook
  • 24" x 30" Game Board
  • 8 Hero Character Cards
  • 8 Hero Miniatures
  • 4 General Character Cards
  • 4 General Miniatures
  • 100 Minions [25 Black (Varkolak’s Undead) 25 Blue (Sapphire’s Dragonkin) 25 Red (Balazarg’s Demons) 25 Green (Gorgutt’s Orcs)]
  • War Status Board
  • Deck of 56 Darkness Spreads Cards (these are used to spread the Bad Guys around the world)
  • Deck of 96 Hero Cards (these are multipurpose cards that are used with actions
  • Deck of 24 Quest Cards (these are side quests that get that reward the Heros)
  • 12 Tainted Crystals
  • 5 Magic Gate Tokens
  • 12 Dice -3 per color (Black, Blue, Red, Green)
  • 7 Status Tokens (War Status, 4 General Wound Markers, 2 Eagle Rider Status)
  • 42 Life Tokens

The miniatures are plastic, but I think I might paint the Heros and the Generals to make them look even cooler.

Each players turn is comprised of 3 phases:

  • Daytime - player takes a number of actions equal to their number of Life Tokens. Actions are movement, using a special skill, listening for rumours at an inn, building a magic gate, healing the land, healing wounds, engaging enemy minons in combat, or engaging enemy Generals in combat.
  • Evening - player draws 2 Hero cards to their hand
  • Night - badness happens!! This is the time when the Bad Guys advance and Try to Take Over the World.

Players win the game by defeating all 4 generals. Players loose the game if any of the following occur:

  • any of the 4 generals move into Monarch City
  • if a Darkness Spreads Card identifies minions to be placed on the board and you do not have enough minions to meet the requirements of the card
  • the last of the 12 Tainted Crystals is added to the board
  • if 5 enemy minions are in Monarch City at any time

My friends and I had a fun time playing this game. I think the first run through is a bit slower as you are refering back to the rulebook a lot, but as you become familiar with the rules it will go faster.

Yes, we won our game, but it was close. We were so focused on defeating the minions and Generals, we sort of forgot about the Taint spreading across the world. I think we were at 11 Taint crystals (12 looses the game) when we defeated the last General!

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