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Terminus Breach TD Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: Terminus Breach TD

Designer: Matt Lloyd
Artist: Matt Lloyd
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-3
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 60-180 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Terminus Breach TD. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


tl;dr: Perfect for that gamer who's been saying to themselves, "I love Tower Defense games, and I wish I could play them on a huge table and semi-cooperatively with up to two of my friends."

Getting to the Game: A giant six-fold board contains the 8x6 layout for your maps. Three pre-made layouts of rocks and woods are provided by the game, in increasing difficulty, but there's nothing stopping you from coming up with your own - a nice feature of a physical execution of this genre. Each player chooses a race, and then a leader. The first "battle" deck of five is shuffled and placed at the entrance to the path. There are various tokens and such that need to be placed within reach of the players - overall, setup is pretty easy. Once it's fully on the table, though, the thing that will stand out to you is just how much space it takes up. Anyone trying to play this three-person game on a table made for four people is going to have issues.

Learning Terminus Breach is a snap for anyone who's ever played a tower defense game. There are some mechanics that take a downgrade from the digital space, due to a lack of automation, but if you keep the core gameplay in mind, the actual playing is pretty intuitive. Included with the game is a handy helper card that steps through the turn order, which really simplifies the process.

Playing the Game: There are five decks of battle cards, each containing an increasingly difficult mix of flying and ground-based "drakka," which serve as this game's creepers. These drakka move through the tunnels created by the board, coming (and hopefully staying) in range of the towers you and your friends build. Each battle consists of three waves, and the drakka will follow the programmed movement on their cards. If there isn't a place for them to go, they will be "trampled" and go into a discard pile. I understand the mechanic, but it feels cheap to me. The allure of tower defense games is solving the puzzle. Each level is known to be possible, and the difficulty ramps up as you go. In Terminus, each wave in battle one could have up to 5 drakka spawn each time. This feels like it would be way too much given the amount of money you start with. We had two spawn in one wave, which was over too fast. The variable difficulty can be likened to Pandemic, where a bad shuffle can end your game real quick. One or two drakka can slip past your defenses with little consequence, but if too many get by, you're done.

After three waves, the battle ends. Drakka not killed and still on the board stay there, the next battle deck is shuffled and placed at the start of the track, and you begin again with three new waves. Killed drakka award gold after every wave, and players have the option to build new towers, upgrade existing towers, and even purchase additional benefits in the form of random cards called Imperial Sanctions. Some of these cards have a set collection element where you can hold on to them, delaying their effect until you collect enough to give you a victory point bonus. Also, depending on what leader you've chosen, leveling up happens after certain objectives are met, and each level gives you additional benefits which make your job easier. You and your tablemates are playing cooperatively in that you're all trying to kill drakka together, but it's victory points that determine the ultimate winner.

I struggled for a while with my thoughts about Terminus Breach. Whenever I don't understand a game, I try to always go back to what the developer or designer tried to do, and see how effective they were. By this metric, I think Terminus Breach succeeds in what it's trying to do. It's a labor of love by an avid fan of the genre, and it effectively brings the feel of a tower defense game to the tabletop. It has the added benefit of being a semi cooperative game, which I haven't personally seen in the tower defense mix yet. As a reviewer, though, I go back to the question of "is it fun?" I personally like tower defense games, though admittedly I'm not a rabid fan. Terminus Breach failed to hold my interest past the one-hour mark, and games could go as long as three. It checks all the boxes of what should be in the game, but none of it feels fresh, interesting, or elegant. It feels exactly like what would happen if you couldn't automate the action, and instead were put in charge of the tactical as well as the strategic, and had to fiddle with the creeping baddies. If that sounds like your thing, then this is worth checking out.

Artwork and Components: The art is fun and feels very thematic. The world of crumbling rock and dense woods jumps off the board and is engaging. Tokens are serviceable thick cardboard punchouts, and everything is handled mostly with cardstock pushed around the map. The modular board is a fantastic idea that allows for hundreds of varying paths, so it's possible to never play exactly the same game twice.

The Good: Very pretty, and the map variability is a nice touch. Loving extension of tower defense games, proficiently brought to the table.

The Bad: Doesn't do anything new, games take too long, and gameplay doesn't evolve or change as it goes on. Semi-cooperative style forces players to play non-optimally at times in order to prevent everyone from losing.

Score: Reiterating the fact that you're probably reading this because you either love tower defense games and want to know if it works on the table, or because you said to yourself, "A tower defense game on a table? Whaaaaaaat?", I'll say this. If you're the former, you owe this game a look. If you're the latter, my answer is "Yeah... That's about it." I'm giving Terminus Breach a score of Grind it Out.


On KICKSTARTER between now and April 12, 2018

About the Author:

Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
Terminus Breach TD Kickstarter Preview Terminus Breach TD Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on March 14, 2018 Rating: 5

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