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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Boards & Brews at Home: Thunderstone

Today for Boards and Brews it has been one month since our first at home segment, which means it’s time for our next at home segment.  Tonight we played a more advanced deck builder, Thunderstone.  Claire and I really love this game and understandably so.  The best way to describe Thunderstone is D&D meets Dominion.  For our previous at home segment we did it on Dominion and it’s crazy how much this game is like Dominion.  We don’t own as many expansions of Thunderstone because it seems Dominion has always been the bigger hit within most gaming groups.  This segment will just be us playing the original base game of Thunderstone.  
The game play is really good in this game, but there is one mechanic in particular that especially makes this deck builder a little more confusing for the very first time you play it.  That would be the Dungeon Path.   Basically when it’s the active players turn you decide whether to go into the village to purchase items, or go into the dungeon to fight monsters.  If you decide to go into the dungeon, you have to make sure that your cards carry a certain amount of light so you can see.  The dungeon path has three different levels and each level is deeper so it requires more light the deeper you go.  The monster deck holds the greatest depth, followed by three cards that are drawn from it from 3, then 2 and 1.  It does not matter which side you place the monster deck, just as long as you remember that the monster with the greatest rank/level is beside the deck and then works it’s way back to 1. If you wish to fight a monster and do not have sufficient light in your hand, you will be penalized based on the rank of the monster you are trying to defeat.  The deeper into the dungeon, the higher the penalty will be for your attack value.  This isn't an issue, but the way it's explained in the instructions is.  It's very difficult to understand if you're a first time player to Thunderstone, and AEG should have considered this before moving on to production for the rulebook.  One other drawback is that while some of the cards give you an advantage, most of the monster cards only end up clogging your hand after you defeat them. This issue is one of the biggest things that bothers me about Thunderstone, along with the convoluted instruction booklet. Otherwise, this game is absolutely amazing and probably my favorite deck-building game out there!  The artwork on the cards is by far the best artwork I’ve seen in any deck-building game!  They really went the extra mile with the artwork on this one.  Also, when it's the active players turn, you can choose to pass your turn, and then trash a card of your choice!  You can't do that in other deck building games without a card giving you that allowance!
Every time Claire and I play this game, we listen to the falconer station on Pandora.  This station provides us with Falconer, Blind Guardian, Dragonforce, Heidevolk, and lots more great victory metal.  These bands are definitely essential when playing this game.  The newer starter set is the Thunderstone Advance series and I don’t like some of the changes that were made to that version such as completely different artwork style, and massive amounts of cards removed.  This does however make the starter set easier for players that have never played it, so in that respect it'll remain on our shelf for new comers to the game.  The sad thing is that the base release (shown above) along with the DragonSpire standalone/expansion has been out of print for several years now.  AEG has taken them off the market and you may only find them on Amazon or Ebay anymore, and if you do find them, they won’t be cheap.  If anything, this only makes me admire this particular release of Thunderstone even more.  If you can still find this version online, I would get it!  Tonight’s round was really close, but I ended up being the victorious warrior with an iron fist in the air.  Even though there are some drawbacks to this game, in my opinion the positives strongly outweigh the negatives.  As far as deck-building games go, I cannot say enough about how much I love this one!  Although, I would have definitely given it a higher rating if the mechanics and instructional booklet were resolved better.  Overall, we are very glad to own these games in our collection and absolutely recommend them to anyone who loves deck-building games with a fantasy theme!  

Thunderstone  (Base Game)
Overall Meeple Rating: 8.5/10

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