Designer: Alessandro Veracchi
Artists: Travis Anderson, Andrea Butera
Publisher: Tabula Games
Year Published: Currently a Kickstart campaign, expected to deliver in 2022
Gotta play them all !
Well, … For starters, I’ve got to admit that I’m a long time dual card game player. It all started when I was young with Pokemon TCG. And even though TCGs aren’t to be classified as Deck Building card games, building a game is obviously a big part of the fun. Though it lead to a further downtime and ask for a lot of preparation, TCGs like Magic the Gathering (MTG) allow the player to craft master piece engines to try and destroy your adversaries while staying alive.
Enough with the TCGs already ! That might be subject for another day, because today’s subject Volfyirion Guild isn’t a TCG even though it starts sharing more similarities with the Genre than most of the Deck Building Game out there.
A Deck Builder digression
So let’s move on to Deck Builders. I absolutely love them ! Engine Building to be more general and include games like It’s a Wonderful World, Noria and Caverna is one of my favorite mechanics in Boardgames. And I have the certitude that, when correctly handled it is a blessing for both new comers and experts. For those of you not knowing what Engine or Deck Building is, here is a short definition for you.
QuelqunQui’s Definition : Engine building is a board game mechanism that allows players to alter the available actions for them to perform through all the game, most of the time it is done by upgrading and/or purchasing new abilities to be used in a later turn.
Well, there you have it my very own definition of Engine building. When the engine is composed solely of card it is called Deck building and I came to understand that the first Engine builders were Deck builders. This could explain why some people use “Deck builder” to describe all of them.
The Deck Builder genre has been diversifying a lot these last few years. The publishers have been hard at work to provide a variety of different experiences in both length, depth complexity and mechanics interaction. I like to sort Deck builders into two categories. First you’ve got the “Pure Deck-builder” those are fully card based games, that are most of the time more simple (even though they can be deep) and consist only of card decks of the same size, this category account for Dominion and Cthulu’s Realms for example. I like to call the second category the “Hybrid Deck builder”, the core-mechanic of the game is to build your deck to advance to a greater purpose or acquire non-card tokens, most notable example might be the Clank! series and Seasons.
Let’s also address that although I like them, I wouldn’t categorize simplified fully card-based RPG’s like the Pathfinder adventure card game as deck builders, although you literally build your decks.
This being said I can tell you that Volfyirion and Volfyirion Guilds are a Pure Deck Builder although it comes with some fancy material !
Volfyirion Guilds – Volfyirion foreword
Volfyrion Guilds is an extension and a stand alone game at the same time. It reimplements the Volfyrion card game with the addition of small mechanics and brand new cards.
Both volfyrion and Volfyrion Guilds play in the same manner, both games are Deck Builders in which the players duel to take three cities that their adversary has to defend.
Both games are fast-paced active games that are quick to learn and very enjoyable to play in one of the three offered modes. The most iconic mode to play a duel board game is of course 1 v 1 but the publisher also offers the chance to play 2v2 games where 2 players team up to put their adversaries down. The 2v2 mode requires 2 games to be played, either two “Volfyrion”, two “Volfyrion Guilds” or one of each. The third mode offered is a high stakes 1 player mode were you’ll need to face the dragon Volfyrion itself before it destroys all your cities.
Very easy to set up and fast to play, volfyrion is a deck builder based on 3 sorts of resources.
- Command, which serves as primary resource to acquire new cards.
- Knowledge, which in small quantities allows you to alter permanent cards your adversary might have played but is also used in big quantities to control Volfyrion the dragon and force him to rampage your adversaries cities for you.
- Battle, which can be use in big quantities to conduct direct attack on your adversary cities and can be used in small quantity to acquire some card.
Not counting the cards representing your cities and Volfyrion’s Lair, there are four types of cards, 3 are permanent that will stay in play unless removed by your adversary or yourself.
- Troop cards will allow you to increase the protection of one city against Battle attack.
- Building cards will provide with a variety of bonuses
- and Wonder card (that are acquired through battle point) will provide small but detrimental bonuses.
The most common type of card how ever is a non permanent one, command cards that will give certain amount of resources.
All cards have up to two effects, a main effect that player gains anyway and a secondary effect that is triggered under a certain condition.
What makes Volfyrion a unique game is the heavy use of the “banish” mechanism that is called remove in these games. A removed card doesn’t go in one’s discard pile but is instead removed from the game.
The fact that most of Volfyrion’s secondary effects involve removing the card itself from the game to gain a big bonus allows for big decision.
Players really need to think twice before removing their defense to gain an offensive burst, their enemy might have the best of them now that their cities are not protected anymore !
« It is the very smart use of the remove mechanics that really makes Volfyirion a great game. »
This key feature of Volfyirion also allows for big come-backs, if you try to burst your opponent too quickly and fail, you might find said opponent in a position to remove all its card from the game in order to destroy you in a sweet move.
As already mentioned, Volfyrion Guilds is a stand alone game and contains everything to be played that way, the basic cards and starting material are the same in Volfyirion first of the name. In addition, Volfyirion guilds offers the player a Guild Vault to store a card should they want to and provide a bonus for every city they lost.
Volfyirion Guilds’ rules are roughly the same as the rules from Volfyirion with a few tweaks.
The added rules are subtile, the same way Ticket to Ride Europe and Small World Underground introduced small changes with regards to their first released version.
The cards Volfyirion Guilds are of the same type as the one from Volfyirion with two main new mechanics. Most of the cards in Volfyirion Guild feature bonuses of acquisition, that allow you to burst even more resources in one turn while keeping your deck in the game.
The second new mechanic is the addition of the Guild Vault, you may store a command card in that vault, which allows you to play 4 cards during one turn and 6 during the next. This feature is the real big addition in Volfyirion Guilds.
Thanks to the Vault, player in Volfyirion Guilds will have to think twice before building their strategy. This allows to reduce the randomness during the game. Therefore, the vault of Volfyrion Guild makes it a real an improvement in the Dual Deck Builder genre.
« The vault of Volfyrion Guild is a real an improvement in the Dual Deck Builder genre »
Volfyirion Guilds can also be played as an expansion of Volfyirion by adding all the cards together and dealing Vaults to each player, adding the card of Volfyirion Guilds adds some replayability into the game. Given the player will draw roughly the same amount of cards during each playthrough, with more different cards comes more possibilities of play.
Volfyirions game modes
- Dual (1v1)
Both Volfyirion can of course be played in dual mode 1v1 with either a single game or both game together, all those play really good and I’ll always be happy to play one or the other. I’d say that playing with the double amount of cards (Volfyirion + Volfyirion Guild) strips the players that might have played a lot from their advantage, and prohibits any adversary from waiting for that card they know will pop at some point.
In the Dual, each players defend 3 cities, each of which can be destroyed by bursting enough battle points at once or by sending Volfyirion to take care of it with enough Knowledge points. And usually through out a playthrough you’ll see cities falling both ways.
- Team Dual (2v2)
Tabula Games team is really smart to be able to convert a game like they did. Combining two games of Volfyirion, two games of Volfyirion Guild, or one of both, two players may compete against each other. Although theoretically you could play Volfyirion against Volfyirion Guilds I wouldn’t recommend that. The problem is that when you play team vs team, although each players buys card for its own deck, each teams buys cards from the same source. This means in turns that a team that would only buy cards from the Volfyirion Guild deck would get cards that interacts with Volfyirion Vault while the team playing with Volfyirion would have no vaults. Instead I would suggest to make two decks containing the same cards (lot of the cards in both Volfyirion and Volfyirion Guilds are present in even amount) and then draft the cards present in an odd amount between the two teams (those are mostly very strong cards). Although, give everybody a Vault, this mechanic is worth the trouble !
2v2 games are played with 3 strongholds on each side replacing the 3 cities from the 1v1 games. Turns are played together as a team, players from the same teams add up their battle points and knowledge points to move Volfyirion to the adversaries strongholds and attack said strongholds. At the same time, each player buy their cards on their own.
Solo mode was introduced briefly in Volfyirion, and by briefly I mean that all the rules were set and defined but felt more like a late addition. Where as the Solo mode of Volfyirion Guilds is a part that has been precociously crafted for the game with multiple layers of difficulty and multiple challenges. It’s a difficult and ferocious solo mode that you get fighting a dreadful enemy that kills your minions and destroys your building driven by different automas.
Volfyirion’s Miniature expansion
Volfyirion are card games, although they come with an expansion that replaces the meeple representing Volfyirion with a big Dragon miniature.
While the miniature is remarkably well designed and even comes with a mini expansion for Volfyirion, it’s also worth noticing that said miniature is bigger than the box of both Volfyirion and Volfyirion Guilds alike.
But there is something I love about the expansion, when they can be played with more than one game. And the fine people of Tabula Games did just that, Volfyirion the dragon miniature is an expansion for Volfyirion, Mysthea and Mysthea the Fall (which is the game you obtain when you fusion Mysthea and Icaion). And those are the games that really condition the size of the miniature here. Even if its explains it, my idea is that if you don’t own Mysthea and aren’t planning to acquire it, you shouldn’t get this expansion (unless you are a painter at heart that want a cool “mini” of course).
Volfyirion Guilds Kickstarter material
Disclaimer, I used the same table for all pictures below in order to have an easy comparison of the size of the boxes.
Volfyirion comes packed in a neat small box containing all 110 cards and the Volfyirion’s dragon meeple.
The dragon meeple is screen printed on one side for the pleasure of the eyes. My only regrets is that its only on one side, I guess that some people may prefer a meeple without screen printing and this allows for both.
Volfyirion Guilgd Comes in a nice box with an adequate thermoformed place to hold the 110 cards and 2 oversized cards for the solo mode, each represent another challenge. The box is big enough to contain the card of both Volfyirion and Volfyirion Guilds.
Volfyirion Guilds contains the same meeple that Volfyirion does.
Volfyirion Guild’s Token
This Kickstarter campaign will come in a box of wooden tokens for all three of the resources of the game. As you’ll notice from the above image if you hurry and back before the 10th of July at 5:15 PM CEST you’ll get the Early Bird offer of these (Tomorrow at the time of this posting)
If you ever played a dual pure deck builder you might ask yourself why such tokens are needed. Indeed, you just have to count the amount of resources you have on your cards, why bother to take tokens ? Well, I thought exactly that when I opened the box. But if you payed a little bit of attention during this review you might remember that I told you what makes Volfyirion a Great game is the heavy use of the “banish” mechanism. And what I can tell you is that during later turns, when you just banished 3 cards and are allowed to draw one and need not to forget your acquisition bonus, the tokens become handy! You won’t use it during all your turns but nevertheless they prove to be good gaming companions.
Although I feel like they might come in more than one value/shape, I would love to have squared tokens with a value of 5 for example.
Here it is the Volfyirion “mini” expansion. It contains a big miniature to replace the meeple of Volfyirion the dragon. 4 cards to be played with the expansion in Mysthea and Mysthea the falla as well as a rulebook containing the rules for all 3 games.
The miniature itself is gorgeous and not only serves as a miniature, it’s an element of the game itself. The miniature has 5 removable shards on its base. Those shards are marked with numbers and serve a purpose as such in all the 3 games for which the dragon is an expansion.
Volfyirion’s Playmat and Big Deluxe Box
I’ve got mixed feelings about the Big Box. Because, as it’s name might suggest, the Big Box is Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig. Way bigger than the normal boxes of both Volfyirion and Volfyirion Guilds.
Which is not a problem as such but I like the small boxes and I feel like their size is just right for the game.
But when opening the box, you find such treasure that the size of the box might justify it.
Volfyrion Guilds Big Box comes with places to hold the tokens, and boxes of further expansion that will be released during the Kickstarter campaign as well as a place to hold two gorgeous play mats.
Yet for some reason the big box isn’t able to hold the Volfyirion miniature.
The play mats are really thick and the colors a beautifully chromed. One might think as I did that a play mat with that much small details without special places to indicate card places would be difficult to play on, cards might get lost in all those small details, well once again I was wrong. Thanks to the beautiful colors and shiny material used, the cards of Volfyirion are easy to spot, also thanks to their colored frame.
Also contain in the box is a booster pack, I won’t go too much into detail but expect some surprises during the campaign.
What should you go for
I think I was clear enough, I loved the games. Something I also loved and haven’t talked about yet is how Tabula Games are keeping the base price very affordable. So if you love game play and don’t want anything to do with fancy material you have no place to store anyway, I would go “gameplay all in” (don’t know if they will have such option, but you know what I mean).
Unless you’ve got a good reason, for example you already bought Mysthea and Icaion, don’t bother buying the dragon, the mini expansion for Volfyirion on is own is not worth it in my opinion.
I don’t know how the tokens will be sold but if you are on the fence, I would advise going for them, it will allow you to organize your more heavy turn!
REMINDER: This Kickstarter campaign will come in a box of wooden tokens for all three of the resources of the game. As you’ll notice from the above image if you hurry and back before the 10th of July at 5:15 PM CEST you’ll get the Early Bird offer of these (Tomorrow at the time of this posting)
And of course, if you are all about fancy material and you love beautifully crafted and designed play mat, you won’t be disappointed by the Deluxe edition of this game, those play mats are thick and gorgeous at the same time !
To conclude I’d say that Volfyirion Guilds is great add on to one of the most enjoyable fast-paced Deck builders of those last 5-10 years and I will definitely buy those incoming expansions for myself.
PS : If you are not convinced by this review try Volfyirion on TTS for yourself before pledging.
QuelqunQui (literally Someone who in French) is an eclectic who can’t stop doing more than one thing at a time.. Quelqunqui is a harpsichordist and gamer at heart that doesn’t abide by rules he doesn’t believe in. When not playing he’s traveling the world for the Belgian Air force.