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Ignite Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look:

Ignite is a fast-paced, deck-building, fantasy brawler with tons of variety and sleek gameplay. It has variable player powers, seven terrain types, multiple variants, and around 117 card options. You will choose one of eleven races and battle up to seven of your friends by honing your abilities, maneuvering strategically, and smiting their soldiers. The game ends when all other factions have been wiped out, or if a player has 4 more trophies (kills) than any other player.   

Generally, each faction has three units, each with three health. Units move and attack each other using the cards in their hand. Each turn has four phases: Start of turn effects, play/buy cards, move all played cards and those still in your hand to the discard pile, draw your hand limit. Most cards have an "Honor" value that is used to buy new cards if you have units in Village or Bazaar spaces.

Designer: Darren Terpstra
Artist: Uncredited
Publisher: Ginger Snap Gaming
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2-8
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 40-160 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

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


Rules and Setup:

This prototype has unit tokens, but the production version will include minis and tiny plastic daggers that stick in them when they're wounded.

The rules were clean and clear, with just the right amount of detail. It's about twenty pages long, not counting the expansion or card glossary. I haven't needed the glossary yet, but it's nice to know that every card has a detailed description. The information is ordered very well.

Setup with the basic decks took about ten minutes.

Board Setup: The tiles for the top row are numbered, and the ones for the left column have letters. The number/letter grid allows for some pretty neat cards, but I'll get to that later.

Use the other Village tiles to complete the edges then fill in the middle with random tiles. They fit together like a puzzle, so the board doesn't get messed up every time somebody bumps it.

Put the tokens somewhere everyone can reach them.

Card Market: Each game you will choose 16 decks to use. Each has 10 of the same card. These 16 stacks are placed near the board where everyone can read them.

Title cards: This is a powerful, optional card type you can add to the 16 deck market. These go into play when purchased and activate on each subsequent round. Instead of the cost in the center, these have a range in the top corner. They initially cost 5, but other players can pay the next highest value to steal it.

You can set up the card market by using the recommended first-time decks, picking them yourself, or using the randomizer cards to choose sixteen. All that matters is that you have a balance of move, attack, and spells at a wide range of costs, and that none of them require another card that isn't available (i.e., three types of arrow and no bow to fire them). There are so many great options that picking can be almost frightful. These are the cards I didn't use in the setup.

That is the base plus all expansions and stretch goals. Still, this is a big one.

My group is pretty familiar with these mechanics, so I was able to teach it in about five minutes. The bulk of the game lies in the strategy of how/when you buy/use cards, so all you really need to get started is card anatomy, terrain details, and phase order. It's all very intuitive, and I love that.

Each player chooses a race and takes the three corresponding units. Give each player a starting deck containing 5 March cards, 4 Daggers, and 3 Shields. Shuffle them together, draw 6, and the first player can get to killing.

Theme and Mechanics:
Long story short, people started dabbling with magic, so the earth got corrupted, and now we all have to kill each other. There is a lot of optional flavor text at the beginning with Oshos history and a profile on each race that explains why they have their ability. For instance, the Centaurs can't use mounts, but they get +1 movement with every move card. Dwarves do +1 melee damage. Orcs have 4 health instead of 3. Ratmen have 5 units with 2 health. They get to draw extra cards when they are adjacent to enemies and are only worth 1/2 a trophy.

There are eleven races so I won't list all of them, but they are all very different. There are no garbage races either. I'd be happy playing any of them.

Ignite has a nice balance of hand/deck manipulation and tactical combat. You start with a few daggers and shields, but you'll need a lot more than that to dominate this fantasy land. Luckily, you start in Village spaces where you can buy better cards by playing the ones in your hand for their "Honor" value.

Honor cost is in the center. The number in the top left is how many Honor points it's worth when you play it to buy cards. Each unit in a city space can only buy one card. Most cards cost 3-12 honor points and are worth 0-3 when played for Honor.

In the center of the board, there's a Bazaar where you can buy OR SELL cards from your hand for their original cost. Like villages, each unit present can buy one card per turn. Units in Village spaces are not expecting to be attacked, so attacks against them do +1 damage. Each unit has three health, so you have to be careful when you go and how long you stay.

Terrain Types:

Village - allows you to buy cards, but you take +1 damage while you're there.

Bazaar - allows you to buy or sell cards.

Plains - nothing special.

Forest - blocks ranged attacks, but any fire attack that hits anywhere in the forest does damage to everyone in that cluster of spaces.

Water - allows you to use certain spells like freeze and lightning to do large area-of-effect attacks.

Lava - any (non-Lizardman) unit that moves (or is pushed) into lava dies immediately.

The expansion adds:
Snow - Moving into a snow space requires 2 movement points.
Acid Pools - each Acid space you move into requires you to discard one card.

There are four phases in your turn.
1. Beginning of Turn Effects - cards that say Beginning of turn trigger.
2. Action/Honor: Use the cards in your hand to perform the actions on them or as currency to buy more cards. You can buy and do actions on your turn, but each card is used for one or the other in any order. Purchased cards go in front of you with the ones you played, but are not moved to the discard pile until the Cleanup phase.
3. Cleanup - move played cards and any left in your hand to the discard pile.
4. Draw - 6 cards (7 for Humans).

Cards tell you how far you move or how much damage is done if it isn't blocked. There is a card for everything, and their interactions can be really cool. For instance, Erin had a card that remained in play allowing her to take a card from my hand every turn, use it, then put it in my discard pile, leaving me with only five cards each round. That sucked, but I could steal it from her by playing 9 Honor, but that's a lot of honor to get out of 5 cards. So, I bought a card let me draw three cards every time my unit was attacked while it was in my hand. This put me up to eight on my turn, and two of those cards let me draw three more and keep any melee weapons. I ended up with eleven cards in my hand. Now I could steal that annoying card back from her, buy anything from the market, or perform a bunch of actions. I killed one of her units and bought a Unicorn, which I trampled her last unit with in the next round.

The cards are very well thought out and provide a lot of interesting strategic choices. For instance, melee weapons have a range of 1, but they are cheap and plentiful. Ranged attacks are generally spells or a bow and arrow. Both have caveats. Spells can't be played for Honor (unless you are the Kitsune faction). Arrows are cheap, but can only be used if you have a bow in your hand. An archery deck is slow to build but offers a plethora of nifty options. Flaming arrows hit everyone hiding in a forest. Wind arrows push the target. There are many other types, but you get the idea. There's an arrow for every occasion. There are also a bunch of thrown weapons you can use if archery sounds like too much trouble.

Your poor units will be knocked down, wounded, pushed into lava, smooshed by ice walls, and vaporized by meteors. There is no end to the horrors awaiting those little guys.

Like most deck-builders, you will want to get rid of those crappy starting cards. There are a lot of ways to do that. The Bazaar is the best because you can trade garbage for epic stuff, but it also makes you a target. New players may want to include a couple cards that make/let you trash a card to play it. It makes the Bazaar less of a roach motel.

Ignite has a good, solid flow. Engines can be built pretty fast. Your cards cycle quickly. Since they're all going to be discarded at the end of your turn, you're motivated to do something with them instead of holding onto a few select cards until you can combo. You have to engineer your deck to give you what you need every turn.

I love how easy it is to trash unwanted cards, but if you want to make it harder, just leave those cards out. The terrain provides for great tactical maneuvering. The factions all have interesting special abilities that suit the type of creature well. Picking is hard, but I favor the Pandas.

The coordinate system lets you do some neat stuff like call in a meteor strike on a specific square. When you play it, you make a note of the coordinates and keep it a secret. It hits on the beginning of your next turn. If anybody is on that space, they die instantly. Everybody tends to move around when a meteor is played. It's great for screwing up people's plans, protecting yourself, or racking up points. Your opponents probably won't be able to move all their units on their turn, so it's got a high kill rate.

The expansion also adds war machines, big weapons you have to build and drag around but give you a range of up to 12. These can be stolen if the controlling unit is killed.

Artwork and Components:

Everything is a prototype and subject to change. So far, so good. The present card design is great. The art is above average.

The Good:
Intuitive logic and clear descriptions on the cards make this quick to pick up.

It's well balanced and provides a lot of options in all phases of the game.

You stick little daggers in the minis when they take damage.

Tons of card variety.

Simple battle structure with no dice or character abilities (i.e. this guy has a shield of 2, and you're attacking with 3, but I can roll to jump out of the way because I'm a ninja). If the attacker swings at somebody that doesn't have a shield, it hits. That's it. I'm not usually a big fan of simple, but this is a good kind of simple.

The terrain changes every game, so you need to adapt your strategy every time you play.

The Bad:
It comes with so much stuff you might strain your back picking it up. 😉

My main gripe is that the board is a little too big. Unless you're playing with 6-8 people, it takes a while to get in range of another player. I think it's big to allow for all the obstacles and to give you time to build your deck, but in my honest opinion, it needs to scale more for different player counts. It's a simple fix, though, and the designer is still experimenting with it.

A 7-8 player game will run long for obvious reasons. It's still fun with those player counts, just time-consuming. 

Final Thoughts:
I really like this one. This is almost simple enough to be a gateway game but has enough hardy strategy to hold the attention of a jaded veteran. The balance and logic of the cards really impressed me. They're simple, intuitive, and powerful without being too overpowered. If you pay 11 for a card, it's going to be devastating, but even those are implemented in fun ways. For instance, the Meteor is an instant kill, but it's unwieldy. When you play it, you pick a space on the grid and make a note of its letter/number. If a figure is on that space at the beginning of your next turn, reveal it, and they die. If not, you'll have another chance when it comes back into your hand.

Turns go quickly, so there's not a lot of downtime. It plays 2-8, but it's best with 4-6.

For Players Who Like:
Deck-building, card drafting, tactical maneuvering, war games, area control, hand management, tons of variety, variable player powers, fantasy settings, dice-free combat.

Check out Ignite on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/260934/ignite  https://www.facebook.com/GingerSnapBoardGames/   https://twitter.com/igniteboardgame     https://www.instagram.com/gingersnapgaming/    

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends May 2, 2019.

Stephen Gulik - Reviewer

Stephen Gulik is a trans-dimensional cockroach, doomsday prophet, author, and editor at sausage-press.com. When he’s not manipulating energy fields to alter the space-time continuum, he’s playing or designing board games. He has four cats and drinks too much coffee.

See Stephen's reviews HERE.

Ignite Kickstarter Preview Ignite Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by S T Gulik on April 04, 2019 Rating: 5

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