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EndStream Review

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” – Carl Jung

"Know thyself." - Thales

Quick Look:

Designer: Ilya Dorman
Artist: Yan Clayman
Publisher: Independent
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

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


Rules and Setup:
EndStream is a card game for two players in which each player takes the role of an organization bent on nefarious acts across time. You are not the good guy, folks, but neither is your opponent, and on your turn, you will be sending your operators across the timeline to eliminate them.

Each player will have their own deck of cards, which consists of 6 operators and 1 hideout card. Additionally, you will be using 6 other cards to represent the timeline. These cards, called the Turnpoint cards, are double-sided cards and will need to be flipped and shuffled prior to starting the game. Each player will draw 6 of these cards (the game comes with 15 of them), setting them up in front of themselves in a line to represent the different centuries used in the game (1800-2300).

Starting the game, you will draw and place your hideout card in the timeline spot that is printed on the card. I’m going to pause talking about the setup and rules to mention that the game is also a customizable card game. You will be able to customize and change your deck using the cards, with the requirement being that your deck consist of 1 hideout card and 6 operator cards. There are some cards that have more than 1 copy using the same name, but have different timelines and abilities in them. The game comes with 3 different hideout cards, and 18 operator cards, allowing you to build multiple factions. The rulebook does allow and list out the cards for 3 constructed decks, to allow you to quickly setup and start playing the game.

Once the playing area is setup, you can begin the game. Each game goes towards the goal of eliminating the opponents’ players off their timeline. You will be doing this by playing attacks by your operatives while trying to prevent damage from your opponents’ attacks on you. To play one of your operators onto the board, you’ll have to pay the activation prices, which consists of finding the matching symbols in your timeline (using the Turnpoint cards) and placing the operator onto the appropriate century. When paying for the activation of an operator, you’ll be taking the Turnpoint cards used to pay their cost, and sliding them off the main line to reflect that they’ve been used. Once you’ve used one and slid it down, you do have the ability to use it a second time that turn (or push it). Note that this now will take an extra turn to be used, as each turn the cards are moved 1 step closer to their starting position.

When you play an operator, you will place them on their staring century (each card has the starting century listed on it). They will also have multiple abilities printed on them, each with their own activation cost. The same rules will apply when trying to use an ability, that is you’ll have to pay the cost from your cards before they take effect.

There are some cards that have more than 1 copy in the base game, each with different abilities. The ruling, if more than 1 card with the same name is in play, is that when an ability is activated on one of the cards, it will impact all cards with that same name (not necessarily on the same century). This can be used both as a benefit or detriment to the players’ cards.

On your turn, you will have multiple options on what actions you would like to play. You can activate operators (paying their cost), use operators or hideout abilities (also paying the cost), and move operators (each operator can move once a turn). This allows you to move your characters around the timeline to setup attacks (or defense) towards your opponent’s operators. When you activate an ability, this ability remains in effect until the start of your next turn, which can (and typically does) give your operator a needed boost. Also, unless noted, activated abilities typically only impact the century they are in, and any cards in that century.

Combat is a bit different in how it works. Each operator has a value that represents their defense. To destroy (or disintegrate) an operator, you will need to drop their defense down to 0, which disables the operator. Once they are disabled, you will need to do additional damage to them to disintegrate them, removing them from the game. Damage stays on the operators until the start of your next turn, at which they recover and clear any damage. Hideouts, on the other hand, do not clear damage on the rounds, and will continue to take damage.

Gameplay continues until one player has had all operators and the hideout eliminated from the game.

Theme and Mechanics:
The cards and theme are very clear and come across in the gameplay with the dark card stock and artwork and help give you the immersion needed to fully enjoy the game. The theme of the game is that of you being a criminal organization bent on destroying the other organizations before they destroy yours, and taking full control across time.

Looking at the game mechanically, while the current iteration of rules are not clear in how the attacking and defending is, it really comes down to a game where you are just going to find yourself trying to get your operators together and take out the other player before they do the same.

Game Play:
Game play does take around 30-45 minutes, with a clear advantage going to whoever has played the game before knowing to try and group the operator’s together and start sniping the opponents’ players before they do the same. The game does have a difficult "come-from-behind" feel to it, where if you lose 1-2 of your operators before your opponent, you will have a struggle to come back from that to win. While the designer has said that there may be expansions to it, the base set will favor whoever has played this more frequently than the other player.

That being said, you have some resource managing, specifically in dealing with the need to pay for abilities and manipulate your timeline. For the most part, you'll still be taking a few turns to get your players in play, and some manipulating of them before starting the barrage against your opponent.  There doesn’t appear to be much of a theme between the different factions, where you might have one that is better at damage mitigation and another at more of a ground-and-pound or one that negates activations and powers. Again, with some possible expansions, this may be addressed, and expand the game.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork for these cards are incredibly detailed and dark, fitting the theme.  Even the Turnpoint cards used for resources have a simple, yet satisfyingly clean graphic that represents it. The card stock quality is incredible, with the feel and thickness helping this stand out above other card games. All the cards have a similar background behind any artwork, but makes it all shine beautifully. These cards all have unique artwork on them that is stunning, and fit the story and theme wonderfully.

The cards are a bit larger than a standard card, so you will not be able to use standard sleeves for them. And even after over 10 games with them, no white edges or marks on the cards are apparent.

The Good:
Artwork and components for this small-box game completely blew me away (Love the Captain Shortspear 1800 and Mr. Archangel 1900 cards!). As I mentioned, very high quality, both in components, artwork, and ink.

Once you understand how to manipulate your operators and resources, playing the game seems very simple and fast, though when playing against an opponent that also understands the manipulation, you each find the other being more cautious and trying to break through the defense across the table from them.

The Bad:
Prototype - Remember this. The version I played with, while the artwork and cards appear to be completed, and knowing this is a prototype, does need some assistance on the rules and rule book. The text and verbiage on all of the cards are great, and hold up solidly, which helps learn and play the game, which helps. The game developer has been very responsive with any questions that have been asked, which is great, and has even responded when a change was needed on the rulebook.

The game also has a problem if you start falling behind as a player. Once your opponent has 2 or more cards in play than you do, they will be able to quickly take advantage and start disintegrating your operators, removing them from the game.

Final Thoughts:
A solid game by a new developer with beautiful artwork and quality of the cards, EndStream finds itself in a niche where, similar to a minimalist game, really revolves around the 7 cards that makes up your deck, and trying to gain the upper hand before your opponent does for the win. While the cards all have specific abilities with different costs, some that benefit other cards in the game, to really make this shine it does take 2 sets of the base cards, allowing you to have multiple copies of cards and build numerous decks. A few more cards to add a greater variety would help this game shine even more.

Players Who Like:
Strategic card games.

Check out EndStream on:


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.

See Delton's reviews HERE.
EndStream Review EndStream Review Reviewed by NeedsOfTheOne on May 09, 2018 Rating: 5

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