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Skytear Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: Skytear

Designer: Giacomo Neri
Artist: Kim Van Deun, Bogdan Antoci, and Jack Kaiser
Publisher: PvP Geeks
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2 or 4
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 30-60 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

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


tl;dr: MOBA on the tabletop with diceless combat. As close to the actual MOBA format as you can get without a gaming computer.

Getting to the Game: Each side will choose their faction (the starting factions in my kit are Liothan and Kurumo), and then you can either stick to those heroes in-faction, or for try-hard mode you can eschew factions altogether, and draft heroes to each side. Each hero comes with 10 power cards which get shuffled together to form your 40-card deck. All your battle effects and powers will come from this deck--there are no dice. Each player draws 5 cards from their deck to form their hand, and takes a single mulligan if they wish, discarding cards they don't want and drawing new ones to replace. Make sure you don't ever want those cards back, though, as they go to your discard and likely won't be replenished.

Reviewer's note: This photo shows incorrect setup--don't put temple tokens where you start.

For those familiar with how a MOBA works, the object here is slightly different from the online counterparts. At the game's beginning, you will randomly select three objectives that are in play for the game. The first player to complete one of them will win. Each side will also have minions to contend with, and they're just about as effective and mindless as the Minions-capital-M from the movies. If you want something done right, you'll have to do it yourself.

Playing the Game: The game is played back-and-forth, activating heroes and then pushing them toward their objectives. Endgame goals range wildly from winning control of 6 areas, destroying either the left or the right temple, and even defeating the same enemy hero twice. To get there, though, you'll need to push through the game's three lanes, while contending for control of the center space, where the highly dangerous and powerful Outsider lives. If you manage to wrest control of the center from your opponent, you'll gain the Outsider as an ally until your opponent removes you or takes control back.

The feel of this game is very good, and plays much faster than you'd think for a tactical minis game. Depending on player skill, as the better you get at feinting and setting up traps for your opponent (just like a real MOBA), the longer you'll have before they bite. And bite they shall, for passing up an opportunity to play some of the game's more powerful cards is one too tempting to let slide, especially when you've caught your quarry in a particularly vulnerable spot. More than once I over committed with one of my heroes, only to have them summarily defeated and sent back to start.

Where the game falters a tad is in the aforementioned minions. Skytear, in its quest to as accurately mimic a MOBA as possible implements the distinctive mindless armies that fight for both sides. The following are the parts of the minion phase, directly from the (admittedly, in-progress) rulebook: Calculate the Control Value, Increase the Control Value (push), Determine the Winner, Apply the Damage, Move the Minions Wave, New Wave of Minions, Damage the Temple. Stopping every round to calculate all of this is frustrating, as it really gets in the way of the quick back and forth already baked in. It's especially problematic because the game does such a great job of evoking the MOBA format.

Artwork and Components: The artwork for this game is uncredited on the cards, Board Game Geek, and in the rulebook. Early access to the KS page is the only place you'd find that the artists are Kim Van Deun, Bogdan Antoci, and Jack Kaiser. Graphic design was done by Anca Albu. It's overall very good, and most importantly feels appropriate to the game style. Most of it has a hyped-up Street Fighter feel, which matches the intensity of the gameplay perfectly. I hope it gets made clear in the future so that these artists get the credit they deserve.


My review copy is missing the miniatures so richly promised by the campaign, so I can't talk about those intelligently. The Kickstarter page has images, and they look just fine, so if minis are your thing, rest assured they'll be there. It seems like the overall cost of the game is mostly eaten up by these minis--which is a shame because that price point is going to keep some from backing this title. A cheaper option with just the standees I have with the laser-cut tokens I have would be very welcome; they're perfectly serviceable.

The Good: MOBA gameplay is lovingly adapted, and feels good. Art is wonderful and serves the overall game very well. 

The Bad: Can feel overly fiddly at times, but this is actually a minor complaint. Losing a hero opens up a huge window for your opponent until the hero respawns, making it feel almost too good.

Score: At the end of the day, Skytear does an admirable job of bringing the twitch-style gameplay to a slower format. It's not a perfect port, obviously, but what's here is good. If the miniatures come through at a decent quality, I have no doubt that this one will be a Kickstarter to watch. I'm giving Skytear a score of Waves of Fun.

Check out Skytear on:


Coming to KICKSTARTER February 1, 2019

Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas 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. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Skytear Kickstarter Preview Skytear Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on January 29, 2019 Rating: 5

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