Game Overview: Keeper's Dissension uses similarities of a few games and then takes them to a whole new level. As Mom watched it being played she saw chess. When Coby and I started to play we were thinking both Chess and Stratego. Each player has a set of eight cards which represent their Minions, Keeper, Guardian, and Life Force. Players battle across two high quality rubber maps as they attempt to destroy the other's Life Force with the Warriors they have picked and added throughout the game. Each player will have a handful of ability cards at their disposal that adds sometimes very powerful elements to the game. Both players will have the ability to obtain Strange Matter tokens (money) which allow them to bring back Warriors that have been defeated, purchase and use ability cards, and unchaining their most powerful weapon--The Guardian. There is tons of strategy involved with each game and no two games will be the same since a small percentage of the ability cards actually are used. At the time of the review, this game is attempting to be funded through a kickstarter page, which can be found here.
Box Contents: When the box was opened, it was obvious that the contents of the game are of the highest quality. Two rubber mats are provided, one for each player. The mats have the spots for the cards along with some key aspects of the game. The art on the cards is amazing. The cards are of high quality as well. It also include two draw string bags to store the strange matter and the dice in. The only complaint I had was that I wish the box was just slightly longer so the mats fit better inside the box.
Clarity of Rules: A twelve page rule book was included in the box. What we found, to really understand the game you need to read the rules and watch the videos that are available on the kickstarter page. Even after that, we had to clarify some rules that come into play for certain warrior cards. I think the abilities of the different Warriors could be better explained within the rule book. With that being said, the game designer was more than willing to answer the questions we had.
Game Play: Each player selects the faction they are going to play with. They choose either the Unox faction or Algar faction. The same Warrior type exists for both teams with the same abilities, with one exception. The Keepers have a special ability that they can use once during the game, which is unique to them. Teams must place a Keeper, their Life Force, and Guardian on the game mat. They can chose the five additional Warriors that they wish to begin play with. They choose between, Blockader, Bomber, Scaler, Sniper, Scout, Ogre, and Mage. The Warriors that you do not choose can be brought into the game at a later time, by purchasing it. Each Warrior has Speed, Range, Damage Given, and Health Points. When the game is initially set up, a wall is placed across the spaces that separate the two game mats. Players must choose to either scale the wall (Scaler Warrior) or break through it to get to the other side. Breaking through the wall will impact the Warrior that does this based on the effect that exists on the back of the wall card. A few times we have had a stalemate at the beginning, as we try to build up our Strange Matter and make some purchases before someone identifies a weakness and makes the initial move. Prior to the game starting, players are dealt seven Ability Cards that can swing the game from one player to the other. There are three additional ability cards that are played on the side of the game mat that can be purchased/exchanged by either player for the ones in your hand. To play an ability card, you mush purchase it with the Strange Matter you have earned. Play the right ability card at the right time, could mean victory for you. As players move around the border initiating battles, the losing Warrior is removed from the game. The team that defeated that Warrior earns Strange Matter for future purchases, including reviving any previously defeated Warriors. Protecting and using your Keeper is an important part of the game. Your Life Force card begins with 15 health points. When your Keeper is killed, it remains in the game but five Life Force are removed. Once your Life Force hits zero, you have lost the game. You also have the ability to attack the Life Force directly. However, each team has a very powerful Guardian that is chained up that can move initially around the Life Force card. The Guardian can be released for a hefty price to wreak havoc across the game mat. However, that may leave your Life Force wide open for an easy attack. So many strategies will come into play during the game that you will have to adapt to on the fly to win the game.
Replay Ability: Because the ability cards that will be in play are always going to be different, we have seen that a unique strategy has to be used with each game. Because of this, there is a ton of replay ability here. The rulebook also includes instructions for playing a four player game. We have not attempted that yet. However, that can keep the entire family involved with the game if it works as well as the two player game.
Appropriate Audience: The game is suggested for 12+, which I think is appropriate for the complexity of the game. So far Cade, who just turned 11 hasn't tried the game yet. But wants to learn it and I think he can easily handle it with our help.
What We Liked/Didn't Like: Coby and I, really really like this game. At the present time, this is our new favorite two player game. It is that good. It is such a unique design that board gamers at all levels will enjoy it.
Add-ons/Other Releases: If the game is successful, additional fractions may become available. Having this, and different abilities could take this game to an even higher level.