Radiant: Offline battle arena

Game Overview: By gathering three heroes along with a hidden Deity, an all powerful hero, you battle head to head with your opponent across three lanes attempting to destroy their heroes, divine conduits (holy places of your selected Deity), and ultimately their Deity to claim victory.

Box Contents: Initially, I felt this was another example of the box being way bigger than it needed to be.  As there are just 156 total cards and 60 small cardboard tokens.  However, as I began to research the game ahead of the published review it became obvious that it was done this way to support the game going forward as one expansion is available now and two additional expansions are pending fulfillment through Kickstarter.

With that being said, the box itself doesn’t lend itself to a great storage solution.  I am all for being able to keep cards in the necessary piles so you can quickly set up the game.  There is a cardboard insert that allows cards to be placed sideways across it, but the box would rest upon the cards when closed so I am left to either bagging the cards into their own separate piles by laying them flat or cutting down the insert to more efficiently store the cards sideways (which I have done).

The cards themselves are on the thin side and are also showing wear after just a handful of plays, mainly because they have a black border which emphasizes this.  While I don’t sleeve my cards this is something you may wish to consider for the game if you see yourself playing the game a lot.

The art on the cards is just outstanding and really sets it apart from other games.

Clarity of Rules: The rulebook is a glossy 24 page document and for some reason, I really struggled with it.    While it seems to have the important information that is needed, I read through it twice before heading to watch some online videos of it as I was confused with the overall game play.  This is something I normally do not have to do.  At that point, what the rule book was trying to get across made much more sense.

I don’t know if it was simply the order of things where it doesn’t get into the setup until almost half way through the booklet or why I had struggles with it.

It does seem like the game developer recognized the issues with the rulebook to as the current Kickstarter notes they are including a revised rulebook based on feedback from players.

Game Play:  When setting up the game, there is a very small amount of deck building that is required, but the results will be very strategic in how you play the game.  With the base game, there are nine different heroes with each having a deck of ten skill cards.  Each of the heroes will fall into one of three categories (tank/defensive, warrior/offensive, and support/aid other heroes).

The heroes will have an attack, shield, and life value.  Along with this, there is an upgrade cost noted on the card along with an ability that they can perform during your turn

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We recommend the drafting and banning of heroes where you will each draft a single hero and then will each ban a single hero, removing it from the game.  You then finish out the draft where you will end up with three heroes on your team.  You shuffle each of those 10 skill card decks together to make your draw deck and all cards can be played on any of your chosen heroes.

Along with this, there are three selections that will be made for each player in secret with sets of cards that both players have and are identical for each player.

  • Deity’s (5 available):  These are all powerful heroes, which you must select a single one that will start the game face down and not in play.  If this hero is ever defeated, you will lose the game immediately.
  • Items (9 available): You will select three of the items and will keep them face down.  Each card has a power cost to it and once assigned to a hero, will increase the different stats of that hero (attack, shield, and/or life).  In addition, they may give that hero a keyword ability, instant healing, ability to draw a card, or additional attack depending on where the attack is being directed.
  • Divine Conduit:  These are holy places that are specific to your selected Deity.  Each Deity has a symbol on their card and in secret; you will select three of the Divine Conduit cards that match that symbol.  You will place one down, with the undestroyed side facing up, across from a card played by your opponent and these are considered lanes.  These all have the same life and attack value.

Each player will then take turns assigning one of their three selected heroes to one of the lanes.  Multiple heroes can be assigned to a single lane, if you choose to.  Finally, you will draw five skill cards into your deck and the battle begins.

Each turn is based on three different phases.

The first is a preparation phase where you resolve any cards that may trigger at the start of your turn, you gain a single power token if you have any heroes in play that has the keyword Evoker assigned to it, and then you gain three action points.  The action points dictate what you will be doing on your turn.

Basic actions include:

  • Attacking (1 AP)- If your hero is in a ready state, you can either attack an opposing hero/hero’s or attempt to attack the Divine Conduit if it has not yet been destroyed.  Once you attack or defend, you must turn your card sideways which indicates you are in a committed state.

When attacking, the opponent’s hero’s status (ready or committed) plays an important part of the game.  If they are ready, both players will be attacking simultaneously.  You simply compare the attack values versus the shield values to know how much damage will be dealt.  However, one key aspect of the game is clashing. You have knowledge of the outcome based on the hero cards but each skill card in your deck will provide additional attack and/or defense and possibly a clash ability that can be used during the attack.  Sometimes heroes may even be able to play multiple clash cards.  Once all cards being played during the clash are revealed, you will determine the amount of damage taken by both heroes.

If attacking a committed hero, their base attack value will not return damage to you.  However, their base shield value will come into play in blocking your attack.  Anything played on a clash card will come into play though, meaning some damage may still be sent back.

If either hero is knocked out, the opponent will gain two power tokens and the hero is removed from the game board but could possibly be revised at a later stage.

Finally, you can choose to attack the Divine Conduit.  If you get through to it, it will return two damage to your hero which your shields must account for or you take damage.  If you are able to destroy a conduit, the opponent flips the conduit and takes the action noted on the back of the card.  Once all three conduits have been destroyed, if the opponents Deity has not yet been brought into the battle, they are forced to at this time.

  • Recover (1 AP)- If your hero is in a committed state, you can spend the action point to recover them and put them back into a ready state.
  • Move (1 AP)- Move your hero to an adjacent lane.
  • Level Up (1 AP)- If you have power tokens equal to your heroes level up ability, you can spend them to flip over their card which will provide stronger abilities.  You can recover them if they are committed as well.
  • Manifest (1 AP)- You can bring your face down Deity into play and place them into one of the lanes.  Any time a Deity comes onto the battlefield, that player must remove one of their heroes from the game.

Along with these, some of the skill cards in your hand may have a talent ability, which allows you to spend the required action points to use that ability and then the card must be discarded.  They may allow you to heal, deal damage by stunning the opponent, or gain power.

Finally, you get to your end phase where you can use your power tokens to purchase one of the item cards you selected and attach it to a hero, you draw one card from your deck, and revive any of your hero’s that have been defeated and knocked out of the game.

Reviving heroes does have an impact on the game, you can do a mass revival which brings back all heroes knocked out prior to the current round but you must destroy one of your Divine conduits which puts you closer to bringing out your Deity.  You also have a single user card that allows you spend 5 power tokens and return a single hero that has been knocked out.

Replay Ability: Because each player is combining just 3 of the 9 hero deck sets and then the ability to select a different Deity and different item cards to see how they interact, the replay ability is extremely high.  And that is with just the base game.  Add in any of the expansions and you are adding even more replay ability.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 13+ and I think you can go a little younger on this to play the game but to fully understand the strategies behind everything, I think 13 is appropriate.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: This is a game where I did not expect a lot out of it and was blown away with what we discovered and the amount of pure strategy that was needed.  The game doesn’t necessarily do anything new.  Many of the PvP games we have selected to review have some of the same mechanics (3 lane battle system or combing decks of cards for multiple characters).

However, what separates this is there are always strategically meaningful decisions you have to make every single turn.  Some games you have cards that have no purpose whatsoever when you draw them into your hand unless a specific situation occurs.  Here, every single card can be used either in those clashes or if they have a talent on them.  There is never an unplayable card in your hand.  That by itself makes each decision difficult to make.

Having to defeat just a single character that is hidden until it is revealed and finding ways to force your opponent to bring out their Deity so you have a chance to win does separate this from other games.  You have to decide if you take the risk and bring out early or wait until you are forced to.

Mixing up the heroes and the 10 card decks truly does give you a different feel with each combination.  Some are more driven with attacking and others are on the defensive side.  Your decisions at the start of the game will dictate which direction you may have to go.

You have to appreciate the support the game gets from the developers as well.  There have already been 3 expansions created and there is a strong support system and online play through their Discord channel.

On the other side, the luck of the card draw does come into play and may be a concern if you are not a fan of that.  Each hero has a single ultimate card in their deck, which has a very powerful ability that can be used if a hero is upgraded or if they are the Deity.  You will be searching for those 3 cards in your 30 card deck.  I went through multiple games where I never got to any of them.  I believe there is a single character available that allows you to manipulate the cards drawn.  But beyond that, this can be problematic.  However, it is not necessarily the difference between a win and a loss.

As noted above and at least for me, the rules manual could have done a much better job.  There were lots of situations that we ran into that just weren’t even covered in the rules and we had to just use the most logical explanation.  And of course as the game expands with additional keywords, that may continue to happen.

We felt that having status tokens to be used on the heros would be helpful as at times we would simply forget something if a card was played that termporaily changes the normal game play.  For example, not being able to recover a hero until your next turn.

At least for us, introducing a bluff into playing clash cards made that action even more strategic by pulling back a cards that you are pretending the play without flipping it over.

One final concern, which was very minor, we liked to sort the decks by their categories when setting up the draft and the tank and support icon is just way too similar to easily identify them.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  At the time of this review, Roster Expansion #1- Welcome to the Arena is available which introduces three additional heroes and an additional item.  Pending fulfillment from Kickstarter, two additional expansions will be coming soon (The Haunting of Dun Cruach and Wardens of White Forest) with each bringing 3 more heroes to the game.

         
  **A review copy was provided to us.