Knowledge: A Fantasy-Battle Deck building Game

Game Overview: Being released to Kickstarter on October 31st, Knowledge: A Fantasy-Battle Deck Building Game is set in a world that brings to life many fantasy characters including but not limited to Dragons, Dwarves, Elves, Giants, Ogres, Goblins, and Wizards.  During the game, you can choose to battle other players as you try to reduce their hand by using dice and card attributes.  Beware though as they can block your attack or gain an advantage if they defeat you.  You are also trying to obtain mana which allows you to summon cards into your deck ultimately allowing you to gain knowledge cards.  The player that has the most knowledge at the end, raises their hand in triumph.   

Box Contents: A prototype version of the game was provided to us.  With that being said, the box is one of the coolest ones that we have seen.  To go along with the theme of knowledge that is earned throughout the game, the box resembles a very thick hard leather bound book.  The cards themselves have amazing art on them.  They are extremely detailed and appear as though they were hand painted.  Also included are dice for each player and actual amethyst stones that represent mana.

Clarity of Rules: The rules provided to us include many examples throughout the manual to help you learn and understand the game.  The format used makes the game easy to learn.  There were a few very minor situations that were missing in the manual but were resolved by discussing them with the game designer and it sounded as though these may be taken into consideration for the final rules manual.  The version we received is made to appear as thought it was written on parchment, which goes along nicely with the theme of the game.

Game Play:  Setting up the game consists of identifying the 12 decks of cards that you want to use.  Each card has a summon (buying) cost along with abilities of the card.  You will find give main types of cards.  Red references a battle card that can be used to attack other players or to defend yourself if you are being attacked.  Green cards are structure cards that allow you to block attacks.  Blue cards are healers which allow you to revive cards.  Orange cards are items cards.  Finally, yellow cards are considered rare cards.  A few cards have multiple colors on them and allow you to use them as either color.  For example, the Moving Fortress card can be used as either a battle card or a structure card.  Some cards also provide you some additional knowledge points, which become very valuable since that is the goal of the game.

Each card has different stats.  They may allow you to gain extra cards when played, allow you to do an additional movement (play cards), provide an additional summon, or provide additional mana to summon cards,

You also add three piles of mana cards that you can summon and add to your deck.  They come in values of 1, 2, or 3 mana.  Two additional decks are used which represent the Knowledge cards that you can summon.  One is valued at 4 mana and the other is valued at 8 mana.  These provide two things to you when you summon them.  First they will provide knowledge points.  Secondly, they provide a unique piece of knowledge that provides you an ability to take certain actions during your turn when the card is in your hand.

As is typical with any deck building game, you will have an inferior hand to begin the game with.  You start with 7 mana cards valued at one mana each and 3 knowledge cards.  These knowledge cards provided +2 knowledge each at the end of the game but have no special abilities and only clog up your hand when drawn.  You also select a card of your choice that is being used from the lowest summoning cost and next lowest summoning cost.  This provides some interaction over the first two turns that you may not have had until you had summoned cards into your deck.

After shuffling your deck, you draw five cards into your hand.  When it is your turn, you are given a single move and summon action.  Paying close attention to the stats of your cards is important as you can start adding additional moves and summon actions based on the cards that were drawn.

At this point, if you have drawn a battle card into your hand and it has a battle strength associated with it, you can choose to attack all of the other players.  The players being attacked have four options available to them.  If they have a structure card, they can show the card to you to block the attack.  They can choose to discard any non knowledge card.  They can play an item which forces the attacker to potentially trash and remove the battle card from play, or they can choose to continue the battle by playing another battle card.

When a battle occurs, each player will be rolling a single die.  The results of the roll will be added to the original summoning cost to give you a result.  The higher number wins the battle.  In the case of a tie, the die are rolled again.  An important thing to look at in battle are any card attributes that are found on the right hand side of the card or any knowledge cards you have drawn.  They may provide benefits to you during battle.  If the active player wins the battle, the defender must discard the card they battled you with.  If the defender wins, they keep their card in their hand and gain one mana stone to use during their next summon phase.

Once the battle phase is finished, you move to the summon phase.  You add up the mana cards that are in your hand and add them to any mana you may have earned from cards played during your move phase.  This is the amount you can spend on a single card that is added to your discard pile.  The exception is if you played any cards during your move phase that allowed you an additional summon, then you can use any remaining mana to obtain another card.

Your turn is then over and you discard all cards in your hand and draw five new cards from your deck.

Replay Ability: There is a ton of replay ability found within the game.  Because you will never have more than twelve of the character piles in play, being able to mix and match the 34 piles that come with the game will provide you with so many unique variations.  Some cards may counter the abilities of other ones and if they aren't in play at that time, it can really impact the value of adding the card to your hand.  Depending on the number of players and how long you want the game to go, you may not necessarily use the same Knowledge cards either which provides additional replay ability.

Appropriate Audience: The game is suggested at 12+.  There isn't a lot of difficulty in learning or playing the game.  Because of that, you should be able to get someone a little younger into the game.  Our eleven year old has no problems with playing the game and understanding the different strategies that are needed to maximize the card combinations.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: Because deck building games tend to be my favorite game mechanic at this time, I jumped at the chance to provide a preview of this game.  The thing that I felt really separates this from many of the other deck builder games that we have played is the interaction it creates with being able to attack the other players and them being able to counter the attack.  The variety in the game with so many possibilities during game setup and during game play, really makes this a winner for us.  We also love the art and it goes a long way towards immersing you into the theme in the game.

One aspect of the game play that does work but we felt could be made better was during the attack phase and someone plays a block card on the attacker.  If you combo your cards to create multiple attacks, they can keep playing the exact same block card with every attack and it kind of takes out the interaction with that player.  If you are not a fan of rolling die, the luck aspect of rolling one is found in the game but they are also used in conjunction with card abilities. 

If you are a fan of the very popular and grand daddy of all deck builder games, Dominion, it may influence your view of the game as some of the mechanics are very similar between the two.

           * A prototype review copy was provided to us.  The contents of the game or rules may change with future releases.  Our review is based upon the game that we received and also take into consideration changes that the game designer noted to us that were not present in the review copy.