We’ve all been there. Heavy rain or a zombie apocalypse means you’re trapped in the house and there’s 15 minutes until the helicopter lands on the roof to rescue you. What do you do? You could load the dishwasher, but the undead won’t care if your plates are dirty when they smash their way in. Instead, why not take your mind off the whole sorry business with a quick card game? May I suggest Entropy: Worlds Collide? It’ll get you and up to three fellow survivors through that nervous quarter-of-an-hour wait for the chopper.
Each player must choose from a cast of characters, each one a refugee from a different reality, thrown into some nebulous other space called the Nexus after their worlds collided. No idea how, stop asking awkward questions. Each gets an identical hand of six, numbered action cards, which they must use along with their unique special ability to piece their shattered reality back together before their opponents.
These ‘shards’ are represented by more cards, with some nice artwork that reveals the fractured worlds to be a Blade Runner-esque urban sprawl, a sword and sorcery version of the Peak District, somewhere resembling feudal Japan, an alien Eden Project on steroids and a realm of crystals that looks a bit like Superman’s arctic crib.
There is also an anchor card - a kind of tie-breaker, more of which in a mo - and a Wild Shard, which can stand in for a piece of any player’s reality.
Entropy: Worlds Collide - Gameplay
Entropy: World's Collide, designed by Allen Chang and Alistair Kearney, is played in rounds, with players picking an action card and then simultaneously revealing them. The actions are then played through in numerical order. If two or more players choose the same action - a clash - no-one gets to play it unless they have the anchor. Once an action is taken it cannot be used again until that player has taken all their other actions or they play a reset action, allowing them to return all played cards to their hand.
Shards start face-down and stay that way unless placed into the discard pile or until someone plays the expose action, allowing them to turn a card over. As soon as a card is revealed it gets locked into the relevant player’s reality. No, I don’t know how. I told you: don’t ask awkward questions. Cards taken from the Nexus but not exposed, stay face-down in your ‘hold’. In this way you can prevent an opponent from taking a piece of their reality, and vice versa. Yes, they can play expose and force you to reveal it, but are they really sure its a piece of their reality and not that of a rival?
Why you would want to stop someone else from getting back to their own universe? And why would you would want to keep bits of other people’s realities in your ‘hold’? Where would you actually keep bits of alternative realities? Under the stairs? In that old plastic tub that used to have Cadbury’s Heroes in it? Now I’m doing it, aren’t I? Sorry.
The final element is the characters’ special abilities. These allow you to take or reveal extra shards, raid the discard pile, gain extra actions or block those of other players. Played right and they can mix things up good and proper, let me tell you!
Ending the Game
And that’s it. You get your four shards - or three shards and the Wild Shard - before anyone else and you get to pop home and put the kettle on, or whatever it is you do in the crazy reality you come from (frankly, if there’s no tea then I want no part of it). If not, then I guess you remain adrift in the Nexus FOR ALL ETERNITY or something.
Final Thoughts on Entropy: Worlds Collide
Entropy: Worlds collide is pretty lightweight to be honest. There are elements of bluffing, deduction and memory, as you try to work out and then remember where your shards are while plotting to stymie your fellow cosmic castaways. But there is no grand strategy or deep, intellectual challenge. And it’s just as well because you haven’t got time! You’ve only got 15 minutes until the helicopter arrives and if it doesn’t, well, you’ll have played your last game, my friend.