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Godsforge Review


Enter Etherium…

Godsforge by Brendan Stern is a 2019, card based combat game. The rule book tells us about a world where something called ‘Etherium’ is harnessed to create magic. But with dwindling supplies, war has broken out by those who want the power for themselves. So far, so very generic. The theme, loosely laid throughout the game, is there just to support the array of fantasy creatures you can draw into your army as either attack or defence cards. Unfortunately, they kind of bleed into one another after a while with the theme not strong enough to make it come alive. But how does it play?

Players roll dice and play cards to set up defenses, collect resources, and attack their opponents. You win if you are still alive after reducing all of your opponents to zero life or less. Play follows a sequence of four phases: Upkeep, Forge Roll, Reveal, and Attack. Within each phase all players act simultaneously. That is, everyone rolls their dice at the same time, then everyone plays a card at the same time, then the played cards all attack at the same time. No player may move on to the next phase until all players are done with the current phase. All four phases constitute one round. When all phases are complete, a new round begins.

Unveiling Veilstones…

The main meat of Godsforge happens in the Forge Roll phase. Here you roll your personal hand of four dice and then attach them to a single card in your hand in order to play it in the Reveal phase. However, there are a multitude of ways to manipulate the dice as the game goes on. But before we go into that, how do the dice work. The rule book spends a page explaining to us that each number is associated with an element. Two to five are Fire, Air, Water and Earth respectively with one representing the aforementioned Etherium and six a mysterious thing called a Veilstone. It then goes on to explain what each combination of numbers is called, with the most powerful (four of a kind) called a Godstone.

Lost yet? Basically, you are combo-ing dice to match what’s labelled on the card. If you can’t match a card, you can’t play it. If you match a few, you can still only play one. The world building here feels incredibly tacked on in order to make the game feel richer than what it is. That is not to say the gameplay is boring, but it is heavily reliant on the luck of the dice.

However, this is where those pesky Veilstones come in. From the beginning, each player will be able to re-roll two dice once or one dice twice. Due to luck of the roll, these re-rolls only ever happen out of desperation. It is the Veilstones that become really important. If you roll a six you are able to get one, represented by a little gold token. These can then be used to change the number of a dice by one point.

The best thing about these is that you can use as many as you want in one go but you can’t make a die into a one or can’t make a number higher than a six. However, some cards will also ask for Veilstones as part of their cost or to empower an ongoing effect, so you will want to keep some in the bank just in case. Thematically, it never really explains how these fit into the world but mechanically they are a big part of the gameplay and really help to mitigate all of the luck.

All Together Now…

The Reveal phase is where the attacking happens. The attack system is pretty recognisable and therefore easy to get on board with. Any card with a number on a red shield is their attack power and any one on a blue shield are its defence. These creatures will stay in front of you for the rest of the game unless they are destroyed by an opponent’s card.

This kind of attack will usually come from a spell card. These are one time only effects that will either boost the power of your cards or dampen those of the other players. There are spells that let you play a second card but to get the dice needed to do this often feels impossible as spells themselves can be quite expensive.

Then we get onto the simultaneous play. The difficulty here is trying to keep track of who has done what. The natural assumption is if you have a card destroyed then it can’t be used but as the rules say, it will simultaneously be destroyed as it defends and/or attacks someone else.

These phases always seem so messy. We tried to add order to the process by doing all attacks first, then any destructions, but even then we often lost track of who had done what. In theory, this chaos of battle should be exciting but in reality it was often more frustrating. However, one great addition is that once one player is eliminated, each remaining player will lose an extra seven health during each round. This really helps the player elimination lull and makes for a very speedy game.

A Gorgeous Godsforge…

The strongest element of the game is its visual style. There is a very striking look to game from Diego Rodriguez. Its vivid use of colour on otherwise dark cards really pops and when it’s all laid out on the table with its colourful dice and central score board, the game looks really impressive.

As far as card combat games go Godsforge is definitely a far reach from others such as Shards of Infinity or Magic the Gathering but it’s easy to access and the beautiful aesthetics might make it a good introduction to the mechanisms before moving on to something with a bit more depth and replayability.

That concludes our thoughts on Godsforge. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Godsforge today click here!