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State of Wonder Preview



Quick Look:


Designer: Emelie Rodin
Artist: Brandon Crampton
Publisher: BetterBuilt Studio
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of State of Wonder. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Review:

Rules and Setup:
State of Wonder is a game all about laying siege to your opponent’s city. While the game itself consists of a fifteen-card deck per player, you are focused on breaking through the city walls across from you while defending against the same. The area of the game consists of three zones: a City Zone for each side, and a Field Zone in the middle between the players. The Field Zone is where combat between the attacking and defending players happens; that is, once an attacker has identified the target and placed their attackers, the defending player can choose to place defenders in this zone to try and prevent attackers from making it to their city.


Within the City Zone, you have a total of eight additional zones, each with a specific purpose: Production, State, Wall, Garrison, Guild, Hand, Graveyard, and Siege. Seven of the zones are used by you and your cards, and the eighth (Siege Line) is where your opponents’ cards would go if they lay siege to your city.

The rules included in the prototype cover the basics of play and the different abilities of keywords included in the sample decks, but they seem to jump around on the setup. As this is a prototype, a play mat, paper sample, or game board was not provided covering all the different areas within the city that need to be managed on your turn.

Play continues until enough damage has made it through the defenders to eliminate your city's points.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme of the game is suited towards the cards and their abilities listed. The abilities on the cards do play well with the overall theme of the game and work well against the other decks. I was provided with three pre-built decks to try (Ivory Syndicate, Iron Legion, and Cult of Voices), and each deck’s cards were specific to the theme set to them. For example, the Cult of Voices cards had a come-into-play effect of generating 1/1 tokens (1 attack and 1 defense), and the hero had the ability to sacrifice its own units to boost their power and toughness.


Mechanically, the game consists of comparing an attack value against defense values. While it seems challenging keeping track of the state of the cards within the multiple zones in the ‘City Zone’ and the actions within the turns, a cheat sheet or card will help in tracking what is occurring and what state they are in.

Game Play:
Gameplay can be pretty slow and can seem complex when originally looking at the rules. You’ll find that on your turn, there are six phases, and between one and three actions are available within each phase. These phases are Start, Main, War, Battle, Retrieval, and End Phase. In the Start Phase, you begin with three different actions available (Ready Cards, Gain Gold, and triggering any start-of-turn abilities). The Main Phase allows you to play cards and possibly trigger abilities. The War Phase allows you to move cards to the combat zone (or respond if your opponent places cards in this phase). You then move to the Battle Phase, where you resolve the battles before moving to the Retrieval Phase, during which you take cards that were put in your graveyard back to your hand (more on this a little later). This is followed by the End Phase, where you again resolve any abilities that may trigger and move cards again from your graveyard to your hand.

Depending on your actions during the Main Phase and War Phase, you will have different cards available either on this or the next turn you play. Not every card can be played the same turn it comes into play, though you do have some that can hasten to the field (and the cards all state if they are able to do that using the keyword Ambush).


You’ve heard me refer to returning cards from your graveyard to your hand. You deck consists of fifteen cards total, and as combat can be quite fast and cards can go into the graveyard on each turn, this allows you to cycle through your deck quickly and play cards repeatedly.

Did I mention that there is a cost associated with playing your cards and that you have to earn gold to pay for their cost? Yes, you also have to be aware of that while you are playing cards and moving them around your side of the board. Additionally, your city has three different Ages available, and you have to pay the gold cost associated with that to move the age up, allowing for additional abilities.

State of Wonder also has a deck-builder aspect, allowing you to customize your deck. As stated above, there are three themed decks used during this testing, and you can mix and match cards from between the factions to build your deck. That being said, each card that matches the faction of your city card counts towards one of the fifteen total cards allowed in your deck. If you use an off-themed card in your deck, that counts as two cards of the total allowed.

Artwork and Components:
Let me restate that this is a prototype and that artwork and components may change in the final product. The artwork on the card, while matching the type and text on the card, was a bit dark. Each theme deck is based around a specific color (Ivory Syndicate was green, Iron Legion was blue, and Cult of Voices was red), but the cards were printed a bit dark, taking away the details of the artwork on the cards. While this would work in some cards, overall they were dark to the point where it almost made you not bother looking at the artwork.

The card stock was good, using a standard card stock used by many other card games.

The Good:
For those familiar with other collectible card games (CCGs), the gameplay can be pretty smooth and fast, and a game can take around 20-25 minutes once both players are familiar with the rules. You may find issues when facing a mirror deck (especially two Iron Legion decks), but play can still move along pretty smoothly.

The Bad:
I really enjoyed the game, but I had a hard time getting others not familiar with CCGs to grasp the concepts of multiple phases, actions, and zones. The lack of player aid to streamline rules made it overly complex for some players. Artwork was a bit dark, but this could have been due to the printer that sent the prototypes.

Final Thoughts:
State of Wonder offers a familiar style of gameplay and actions among card games. Build up a mix of offense and defense, and try to break through your opponent to lower their life total to zero. With themed decks allowing for only up to fifteen cards, you can expect to have a lean deck built up with forced defenses and fast attackers that have abilities to clear out any opposition, as well as being able to bring those cards back into play as fast as your opponent takes them out. Out of the three decks provided to test, the balance is pretty decent, with only the Cult of Voices seemingly the most powerful with the ability to sacrifice your own men for bonuses.

Players Who Like:
Players familiar with other CCG/TCG’s.

I am giving State of Wonder 5 out of 10 super meeples.


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Delton Perez - Reviewer

Delton Perez is a FLGS owner with 2 locations in Puerto Rico. Originally from Boston, he currently lives in the wilds of Ohio, where he currently resides with his family. By day, he is a Retail Consultant working in New York in the Fashion Industry, but by night, meeples, dice, and cardboard take over. Delton also runs a gaming organization based in Northeast Ohio that focuses on running game nights at Libraries, Schools, and Churches on a scheduled, monthly basis. At times, Delton has even been able to sleep, though proof has yet to be found.
State of Wonder Preview State of Wonder Preview Reviewed by Delton on January 24, 2018 Rating: 5

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