Strife: Legacy of the eternals

Game Overview: You play as an Eternal who is immortal in the world of Aerim as you call forth one of your ten champions to battle your timeless foes across the chosen location earning victory points with each win.  Strife is a game where players play cards simultaneously where no information is hidden as players have the exact same cards and you will always know which cards have been played and which cards are yet to be played.

Box Contents: There isn’t much to the game as it comes in small metal tin and includes 36 tarot sized cards (20 champions, 10 locations, 4 point tracker cards, and 2 turn order cards) along with a single 12 sided die.

The Tarot sized cards are a huge plus here and add a lot to the game versus if they were a normal sized playing card.  The art is really amazing as well on these cards.  Some of the faces are a little boxy looking however, while others are much more streamlined.

Clarity of Rules: The version that I obtained had a manually printed/copied rules document.  However, it is clear that this (at one time) was an official document provided by the game publisher.  With that being said, the rules had a major issue that affects the game play.  In the game play rules noted below, you first resolve one power on your active card (battle champion) and another power on your previously played card (legacy champion).  Both of these powers have a symbol associated with them.  The rules document reverses the symbols based on the order they need to be resolved in.

Trying to figure out how to play this relatively simple game was very difficult until I figured out that this was a problem with the rules book.  This simply is not acceptable.

The rest of the rules do a good enough job explaining the game but could be better as we did have questions about how cards resolve against each other that are not included with the document.

The rules do have to be folded up so that they can fit into the metal tin.

Game Play:  Each player begins the game with ten identical cards that represent typical fantasy characters (Monk, Necromancer, Assassin, Wizard, Paladin, Ranger, Druid, Warrior, Knight, and Barbarian).  Each card has three things in common.  A power level of the card which is anywhere from zero to nine, a battle ability, and a legacy ability.

There is also a set of ten location cards with a point value of one to four, that you will gain if you are victorious at that location.  Each location will provide a certain character type additional power level if they are played to that location.

The location cards will have three displayed each turn and the players will be battling for the card furthest away from the location card draw pile.

At the start of the game the players will play a character card face down to the location card that is being fought over which is your battle champion along with another card face down to the side of the playing area.  This is considered your legacy champion.

Players reveal their legacy characters at the same time.  Whichever card has the highest power level, gains the Fatestone which is the 12 sided die and it is set to one.

The battle champions are then revealed and the power values are then compared again.  The highest value gets to initiate their battle power first, which is listed first on the card.  These do various things by changing the locations, moving to a different location, cancelling either the battle or legacy battle power, rearranging the legacy card pile, adding battle power to your character played, or matching the opponent’s power card level.

Once the battle power is resolved for both players, you then move onto the legacy cards.  The highest power level goes first and activates the legacy power, which is listed second on the card which may add to the played cards power level.

Once all powers have been resolved, you compare the power levels and whoever has the highest total power level wins the location card and gains those victory points.

If there is ever a tie (you play the same battle champion, have the same legacy champion, or the final power level is the same) the Fatestone die comes into play.  If you have the die in front of you, you can give the victory to your opponent and keep the die or you can take the victory yourself and give them the die but you must move the die on number up.

The reason the Fatestone die is important is that whoever has the die in front of them at the end of the game, increases their score by the number shown on the die.

With each turn, the location cards are advanced the battle champion character you played is now moved to your legacy champion and you will then play a new battle champion card to the current location.

This will continue over three rounds where you will play nine of your ten cards.  The final card you have in your hand will not be played as a battle champion and instead is your legacy champion for the start of the next round.

Replay Ability: While the same cards are in play every game, the unknown is what drives the replay ability here.  This is very strategy driven game about when to play the character cards and trying to figure out what the other player may be playing to negate their abilities.

With that being said, if you play this a lot and against the same players I do think you will start to see the same cards being played at certain times simply because there you have those same 10 cards available each game.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 13+ and I think you can go a little younger than that but they need to truly understand the strategies behind what is being done and that it’s not just playing a card to play a card.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: With simply ten cards available to you, when I first got the game I didn’t think there was much to the game and thought it was just about picking and playing a card.  However, after playing it the first time I was blown away with the amount of strategy that is in this game with each card first activating when played as your battle champion and then again the next round as the legacy champion.  While the other player is trying to figure out what you are doing based on the cards that you have already played, since they remain visible after they hit your legacy pile and then trying to negate what you may be playing this round or even next round.

We have played this multiple times and we have had almost every game come down to the final location card after the three rounds in deciding who will win the overall game.  The tie breaker is also very interesting.  Do you give up the Fatestone die for a victory at that time or do you let your opponent have the die and potentially points at the end of the game, if they never give it up?  Or do you force a tie giving your opponent that difficult decision?  The die has also determined the winner in some of our games.

Experienced players have a distinct advantage in this game as it takes a little while for new players to read through each card to figure out what they can do and then experience with the game is needed to figure out how the cards can combo off of each other to set things up for yourself, perhaps a turn or two down the road.

The theme of the game is really just pasted on here and could have just been anything and the story that was being sold in the game is just lost in the game play.  The publisher basically confirmed this by creating a follow up version of the game (see below) that is set in a steam punk world.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  The publisher followed up this release with Strife: Shadows & Steam, a Steam Punk theme.  The overall game is the same but each of the 10 character cards you use do have different abilities than this version here.

Some of the notable changes are tokens are now available from the cards that may give you additional power on a selected location card, reduce the opponents power on a location card, or reduce the victory points available on a location card.  In addition, there are cards that you can randomly select where a single card is played each round that changes the rules of the game.  Finally, artifacts are added to the location cards and attached to a location when they are drawn. They give the winner of the location some abilities they can use during that round.

You also can mix the two versions where each player takes one set of character cards from both games and then you select certain location codes and mix them together.

We tried this and it seems the Steam Punk version is just a little overpowered with being able to use the tokens while the other player can’t.  Some of the abilities in the Steam Punk just can’t be countered in any way if you are playing the original release.  Because of this and our experiences, we only recommend playing one or the other and not mixing them together.

We prefer playing Strife: Legacy Of the Eternals just as there isn’t as much chaotic stuff going on with adding in the tokens, artifacts, and changing the rules each round.