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Fantasy Defense Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Evan Song, Yoshiyuki Arai
Artists: Yann Tisseron
Publisher: Mandoo Games, Sweet Lemon Publishing
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-2
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 15-20 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Rules and Setup:
The game has a solo mode and a 2-player co-op mode. I will explain the solo mode because I feel like the game is mostly a solo game, and then I will explain how the co-op 2 player mode changes gameplay after.  You will setup the game by making your castle with 7 gates in a horizontal line.  You will set your morale to 20 on your morale track. If this track gets below 1, then you will lose the game.  You will shuffle your invaders in their piles, and then you will place a boss on the bottom, place all elite invaders on top of that boss, place the other boss on top of the elite invaders, and then place the remaining underlings on the top.  This will cause the invaders to progressively get harder, but still add a randomness to it.  You will decide if you want to use the human deck or elven deck. You will place your 2 spell cards in front of you and can use those abilities anytime during the game.  When you use them, you will flip the card over indicating it was used. You can possibly get cards from your deck that can re-set your spell cards. You will have a special starting card, and then you will draw 4 more cards from your deck.

You will draw 3 invaders during this phase. When you draw the card, it will have an arrow, this is the direction it will go and attack the gate on the end in that direction. If another card gets drawn and shows an arrow in the same direction you will place it next to the invader on the end. Essentially the invaders will attack the sides before they attack the middle gates. Some invaders have a symbol that will cause you to discard a card from your hand.

You will take your cards and deploy those troops to defend the areas where invaders are present.  You may have immediate effects when deploying some units, or some have ongoing effects.  You will need to place your units to have your combat value equal to or greater than the attacking invader. You can at any time during this phase move any number of deployed defenders to an adjacent gate.

You will compare combat values of the invaders versus your defenders. You will defeat any invaders when you are equal to or greater in combat value.  When defeated these invaders will be discarded. If your combat value was lower than the invaders, you lost the battle and will take half of the pillage value and move your morale that value.  If you didn’t place any defenders in front of an invader you will decrease your morale by the full pillage value of that invader. Whether you win or lose a battle, you will always have casualties. Discard 1 defender from every gate that had a battle fought. 

You will then draw back 5 new cards to your hand and repeat these phases.

You win when you are able to successfully defend off all the invaders.

In a 2-player game, you will have 6 gates a piece and you will defend your own castle.  You can trade 1 card with each other which can help when someone needs an extra boost. There will be 5 invaders drawn at a time, the 1st player will get 3 and the second player will get 2.  You will have more invaders and the boss cards will need to be battled simultaneously and will generate casualties twice. 

The expansion, The Stone King makes this game way more exciting for me. It’s their spin on a legacy game. You will go through a campaign, and to move on you will have to accomplish something to move on. You will never rip up cards or do anything like that to destroy the game. You can always reset the cards back into the base game to play it again, and you can also reset all the cards back into the envelopes to replay the campaign again.  I don’t want to spoil any of the fun, but this added expansion gives the game more excitement, and it adds more cards, more abilities, and causes you to play differently each time you play.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme matches the gameplay pretty well. You are either humans or elves defending your castles and trying to survive the bloodthirsty orcs. I really enjoy how there are 2 different decks, and the decks are different on how they work with all your abilities on each card.  Some cards start off very weak but if played correctly, they can be one of your strongest cards near the end of the game. I like how no matter what, you will lose a defender for each battle, even if you win. This makes game play very strategic because you don’t want to lose any of your good cards, so you might even place an extra card to defend a gate just to lose that card instead of the others.  The game isn’t just an easy game, you will lose when playing, but if you do well you can also win. 

Artwork and Components:
The artwork is done well and you can see the art above and below to see if the art is of your taste.  The components are very standard for a board game. I would have liked to have seen a more unique token piece for the morale track.

The Good:
I like the decisions you have to make during the game and changing things up with the expansion just makes the game so much better.  The game plays somewhat different each time you play because your deck will be shuffled and you will gain certain cards early that might help you tremendously, or you might draw your low powered cards and be suffering the entire game. 

The Bad:
The base game can get to a point where you keep on doing the same thing, and you feel like your decisions don’t really matter from game to game.  The expansion really fixes that problem, but if just playing with the base game, you can be fun for the first couple plays, and then feels the same after.  The 2-player co-op is just a way to have another player with you play 2 solo games at the same time, the exchanging of cards doesn’t really fix the problem. Also the invader cards can become confusing from their colors during setup, they should have their names or rank written on the back of the cards to make setup easier. 

Final Thoughts:
I hope to see more expansions that will add a new campaign, as campaigns are fun to play through.  Also, I hope they form a new expansion that adds a different story with new twists that can make the game become even better. I would recommend this game to any solo player because the game truly is a solo experience.

Check out Fantasy Defense on:


About the Author:
Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up. He continues his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games. Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.
Fantasy Defense Review Fantasy Defense Review Reviewed by Brody on June 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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