In my recent post I wrote about Gamers 3: Hands of Fate. In this movie Romance of the 9 Empires is the imaginative CCG that Natalie loves and Cass comes to like as well. Cass won the World Championship 2012 held at that year's Gencon. AEG is the producer of the game in the movie (and you can probably see why^^). Anyway they decided to take this imaginary game and create it for real. So a new product was released by AEG. It is the 15th Anniversary World Championship Edition of Romance of the Nine Empires. It contains the top 5 decks from the tournament and some extra cards so the decks can be tweaked a bit.
I decided to buy the box and see if the game is actually playable. Not so many information could be found online about the game itself but anyway I wanted to try it myself and see. I decided to buy it off ebay instead of Alderac store due to issues I usually have with AEG store and the high shipping costs (even though they send extra booster packs to compensate). A week later a courier brought the box to me.
I opened the box and looked inside. There are rules (and a warning that you should not learn the whole set of rules at once), the top 5 decks, additional cards and tokens (counters). I sleeved the decks and was ready to play a game...but I needed to figure out how to play it. So how the game is played in short? If you know Legend of the Five Rings or Legend of the Burning Sands you won't have much problems understanding the game. If you don't know one of these games prepare for a long and crazy introductory game (I suppose it will be long. That's what was happening when I was showing L5R to other people not having much experience with TCGs/CCGs).
Stronghold has a faction (heroes in the deck need to have that faction keyword, there are nine factions in total), starting glory, some ability and gold production. The starting property just produces two gold. Players also start with several castles in play. The number of them can differ (but players will start with 5 castles). Each castle has a point value that cannot exceed the one that is printed on the stronghold and hold food - the second resource in this game. Unlike Gold food can rarely be generated and can be mostly just spent.
There are four phases in the game.
Spring phase which is basically the untap step.
Summer phase in which a player can buy heroes or properties, attach cohorts/items/spells to heroes or attack (and of course play/use Summer abilities ).
During a Battle the attacking player chooses any number of his units to attack one or more castles in play. The individual battles are taken at the castle (and the castle can be destroyed during the attack). The rules of presence and relevance apply in the battles (a card has to have a legal target and a hero need to be present at the castle in order to play battle actions (or the battle action moves the hero there).
Autumn phase in which a player can raid - steal food from opponent's castles. In this case only one hero can be assigned per castle -or play/use Autumn abilities.
Winter phase is the clean up step more or less. Food is redistributed here, 4 cards are drawn (each player has to discard to his maximum hand size). Conditions for losing or winning the game (unless military) are checked here as well etc.
In Battle there is one player action that is quite important and that is Engagement. Any player can tap any number of cards (using their strength) in a unit to deal damage to the opposing army. The other player has to absorb that damage by burying cards with strength equal to the damage dealt. The absorption by a hero can be raised by discarding a card from the player's hand. To some attacks heroes can be immune. For example 2 Strength Hero won't be able to destroy a 3 Strength hero. The defender can also absorb the damage by discarding food (but 1 food equals 1 damage) or by destroying his castle (the castle absorbs all the remaining damage, so the defending army can survive this way).
The game in general is actually good. I like the art as well. The limited number of cards makes it easier to play (unlike if you start playing a new game and there are cards from several different sets with 160-250 cards per set). The rules can be quite a lot for those not used to similar games. So far we haven't played that many games but those we played were quite fun. The games can be pretty frustrating as one misplay can cause a player to lose the game pretty fast. There are cards I already don't like and cards that seem to be really good so I'm looking forward to the expansion announced (Arcane Fire that will let you play as Arcanix wizard or Tuatha Duelist). And of course there are many references to Legend of the Five Rings since fans and backers of the Gamers 3 project created the cards.
The only downside of this game are the token cards and counters. I just managed to lose both of those... (even though I still have my tokens/counters for Warhammer: Invasion these just disappeared).
For more info visit http://www.alderac.com/r9e