Quick Look: Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances Core Set
Designer: Sean Fletcher
Publisher: The Op Games
Year Published: 2022
I got sent this beautifully made (and themed) core set and expansion by The OP. I was tasked to give a review on the expansion itself but as I put in some serious time playing out all the (tutorial) chapters, trying multiple character combinations and then playing the expansion items, I wanted to pass along my thoughts on both. For the readers that skim, I liked it enough to play several days in a row and then went on to download the app that is very similar to the game and also well designed. In terms of a product that I’ve received for review purposes only, I think it’s safe to say I’ve put the most time into this title and that can be attributed to the quick set-up, gameplay, and replayability of the game.
From the Publisher:
It’s almost unfair the initial feeling this game gave me, but as a long time Disney fan I was beyond excited to dig in and at the same time, very worried on how it would actually play out. Considering the size of the publisher, it wasn’t surprising the components were very well made – the crowning achievement in my opinion was the amazing standees with associated life-tracking rings. From the box to its sturdy cardboard punch outs, they did a solid job on the production. The one complaint I had was that the character ability cards and character decks were thin and made of lower quality card stock than anything else. It seemed like an oversight to me, but nothing sleeving can’t fix. Without sleeves, I think these cards will not stand the test of time.
In General: The unique character abilities are up there as they allow a lot of strategy and agency in the game, but my favorite part is that you can take any of your turn phases (Movement, Action, and Skills) can be taken in any order. This is not the first time I’ve run into this type of gameplay but it suits the game perfectly. I think this part in particular is what made me keep bringing it to the table.
The Expansion: I loved how the character cards so closely matched their character, such as Mother Gothel and her card “Deft Manipulation”. Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies, and they just did a great job in bringing them to life in the game. It should be mentioned that The Horned King seemed pretty powerful, but I’d need more trials to determine if it’s always or a lucky game.
In General: Loosely, the game could be described as a ‘King of the Hill’ style game in which there are three hills to capture. However, the weight of the game’s victory points lies in KO’ing an opponent’s characters. As an arena, that’s actually a good thing, but as it is very hard to hold those special locations earning a single VP for being able to survive a full round there, felt a bit disappointing.
The Expansion: I’ll be hung for saying so, but it’s true, I am not a fan of Jack Skellington, that movie, or anything to do with it. It may not be relevant to the review, but it’s just one of those things I had a hard time getting past. I did give him a test drive in the game, and he performed fine, but I won’t play him ever again, haha.
There are several mechanics at play here including but not limited to: Area Movement/Control, Card Play Conflict Resolution and Movement, Deck Construction (through character choice), Grid/Hex Movement, Hand Management, Variable Set-up, King of the Hill, and Unique player abilities.
This medium weight game allows space for complex decisions and planning but unlike many similar weight games, the average turn is quick and pleasant. I enjoyed that the contest between players was usually very close which speaks of a good balancing structure. I must point out that the characters represent different classes and types. There are healthier, brute types, casters, utility, etc. Though the lines on these classifications are often blurred, once you get used to the game you’ll want to pay attention to this and choose your team according to your strategy. In line with that thought, pay attention to the gears in each character deck so that you have the ability to upgrade your characters. The feel and enjoyment of the game was akin to Summoner Wars, a title that I’ve played and enjoyed, but I’d rank this one just above that.
Areas they did well:
– Fantastic teaching through play tutorial they broke into “chapters” that introduced a few elements of the game at a time.
– Multiple viable strategies
– Excellent print quality and graphics (with a favorable theme)
– Custom standees with life trackers
– Real control over your turns through manipulating the order in which you take your phases.
– Taking turns back and forth through character perspective not one player moving all of their units then the next.
– Using cards in hand that match your characters for empowered actions or taking the standard move and/or attack.
– Unique character skills
– Fast gameplay with minimal downtime.
– Making the characters come to life through their cards and abilities
– Good box design and tray
– Status effects that boost ally or affect enemy characters
Areas they could have improved:
– Made enough space in the core set box for the expansion(s) which came out in the same year.
– Higher quality character decks and ability cards
– Better tray storage (or a picture on how to store it properly) for the status effects and other punchouts.
– Raise the value from 1VP to 2VP for holding the golden space(s). Max of 4 per turn.
List of Components:
- 1 Game Board
- 8 Acrylic Standee Figures with Bases
- 8 Base Rings
- 8 Character Ability Cards
- 8 Character Decks (10 cards per deck)
- 4 Reference Cards
- 8 Character Turn Tokens
- 1 Turn Marker
- 24 Status Effect Tokens
- 15 Status Counters
- 18 Victory Point Tokens
- 3 Acrylic Standee Figures with Bases
- 3 Character Ability Cards
- 3 Character Decks (10 cards per deck)
- 3 Character Turn Tokens
- 9 Status Effect Tokens
- 3 Cauldron Born Tokens
- Rules (Additions)
I got to say, the likelihood of me purchasing the Turning the Tides expansion to complete my set of Summoner’s Arena and having even more characters to choose from is really high. It feels akin to when I had (and loved) season 1 of Dice Throne and when season 2 came out, my decision was obvious. I had a lot of fun with the core set as well as the expansion and would recommend this game, specifically to people who enjoy duel and twin-headed dueling games.
I‘ll see you next time, back here at The Game Table,
Here’s a link to their website. The link will go straight to their Disney collection, but they have other products if you want to look at those as well.
Find out more HERE.
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Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”, is a construction project manager and electrician by trade who was the owner of a 6-time award winning electrical company. His passion for board games has led him from playing hundreds of original titles to creating a design and publishing company of his own, Convivial Games. As an up and coming collaborator on many projects, he is always eager to try new games and meet new people.
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All of Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”‘s reviews can be found HERE.