Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Regnum Angelica

RA-Box-SMALL

Product– Regnum Angelica

Producer-Black Locus Games

Price– $45 here http://blacklocustgames.com/regnum-angelica/

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30-60 minutes (2 players)

Type-American

Depth-Medium

TL; DR– A fun combination of chess and Magic: The Gathering.  99%

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Basics-IT’S TIME FOR DIVINE WAR! Regnum Angelica is a battle between the forces of heaven and hell played out on an epic scale.  Each player takes a side represented by a deck of cards.  These cards come in three types: angels, angelic scripts, and pillars.  Angels are the bulk of the cards in the deck.  These represent the attacking forces for each side.  They have a movement range and a power rating.  If you move the angel all the way across the field into your opponent’s side, you gain points equal to their power.  Also, if you score points with an angel/demon, you will lose all your power, which gets you movement for your angels and points to spend to cast scripts.  Scripts are best thought of as instant spells from Magic: The Gathering.  After paying the power cost for the card, each script has an immediate effect inducing more movement, teleporting angels, removing angels from the field, or other options.  Pillars increase your angel’s/demon’s power, and change the type of angel until they are removed.  They also give your angel/demon a shield as an angel/demon that is defeated in combat with a pillar just has the pillar removed instead of losing the whole angel/demon.  Each turn is very simple.  First a player gains a number of movement tokens equal to their current power or one token.  Then, a player may play one angel face down.  Next, a player can turn one face down angel/demon face up.  Some angels have abilities that range from gain power, reduce your enemy’s angel count, or other abilities and these trigger when they are turned face up.  The active player can then spend movement tokens to move angels up to their movement range.  Unspent tokens are removed at the end of turn.  The last action a player can do is discard pillars and angelic scripts to gain extra power equal to the cost of using the card.  At the end of your turn, you draw up to four cards or one card if you have four or more cards.  The above is simple, but what makes it interesting is the way combat is resolved between cards.  Each card has a grid indicating element and directions.   Angels and demons can move in eight directions (up, down, right, left, and all diagonals).  At each of these locations on the mini grid on the card is an element symbol.  When a card would move on top of another card, you compare the elements and directions of those cards.   The three elements are earth, water, and fire.  Earth beats water; water beats fire, and fire beats earth.  It’s like a quick, stylized version of rock paper scissors.  If the two elements are the same, then the angel/demon with the higher rank wins.  If that’s tied, then both are destroyed and move to the void.  Pillars come into play here as a pillar effectively makes all the symbols on an angel/demon’s directions that element.  Turns go back and forth until one player scores 35 points, and that player’s side is victorious!

Mechanics– I liked this game.  The basic elements of the game are top notch.  Honestly, if you want an awesome combo game of Magic: The Gathering that you don’t have to build decks for, this is it. Combat is quick, but you do have to think.  Knowing when to move, when to score, and how to best move a card to attack another card are all amazingly complex while still being simple enough to be quick and fun.  If you like chess and Magic: The Gathering, this is a game that should be part of your collection.  5/5

Theme– I love the theme and its execution, with one small problem.  The manual opens with a multi-chapter story.  As a RPG geek and a bibliophile, this makes me happy!  The creators of this game not only took the time to tell me a story, they wanted it front and center.  That takes some guts.  The art is great, and each side feels like the monsters and saviors they are.  However, my only problem is also a bonus to this game.  The two different decks are basically identical.  Each has a card with similar abilities and similar elemental grids at the bottom.  That’s good, but I would have liked each side to feel a bit different.  The art does separate the different decks, but if you didn’t have the art, the decks wouldn’t be different at all.  That does beg two theories: 1) are the creators of the game saying that looks aside, heaven and hell are basically the same? or 2) did the creators want knife edge balance for their game and used the same deck twice to keep that balance? (It’s most likely 2, but 1 does bring up a good philosophical argument…) 4.8/5

Instructions– I mentioned above that the rules start with a long story.  That makes me happy, but the rules also do a rather decent job of explaining the game.  After cracking up the box, my wife and I were both playing after 10 minutes of reading.  That’s pretty good for a game with this much depth.  Also, each side getting a simple turn diagram and element combat chart card really does speed up the game as well. 5/5

Execution– Just like all my other recent board game reviews, I’ve included an unboxing video here: http://youtu.be/qa2CcG4wjFI  The contents of the box are pretty well done.  I like the nice glossy board as well as the card stock for the cards.  I always appreciate not having to sleeve my card game and still be able to shuffle the cards without destroying them.  I also really enjoy the art.  Each card and the board have beautiful gothic art on them.  Also, I’d almost give these people extra credit because they not only give you clear spots to put the tokens and cards, BUT they also give you bags for you tokens.  I think I’m in love! 5/5

Summary– I really liked this game.  My wife who HATES Magic and chess even thought this game was the best it could be as a combination of those two.  It’s got great balance with even the over powered characters being balanced by the other side having cards to remove those cards from play.  The power mechanic of scoring reduces the power pool also makes driving for several scores at once impossible really balancing the sides.  The art is great, and the tokens made me happy.  This game has moments that make you think hard, but also isn’t a analysis paralysis game.  If you don’t like Magic or chess, then this game might not be for you.  Also, there is an elephant in the room I didn’t mention.  It is a game of heaven vs. hell.  I’m fine with that, but if you don’t like that theme in your games, then this isn’t for you.  But otherwise, if you want a fun, two-player game that you don’t have to build decks for and tire of chess, then this is the game for you. 99%

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