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Disney’s Sorcerers Arena: Epic Alliances Turning the Tide Expansion 1

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Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances Turning the Tide Expansion: Take your combat skills in Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances to all new levels with the Turning the Tide expansion pack! Davy Jones, Moana, and Stitch bring new attacks and abilities true to their characters that will change the course of the Arena’s already epic battles. Disney Sorcerer̵…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-USOHB78100220006 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Value For Money

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Introduces more complex characters to the roster
  • Complements Core Set well
  • Thematic fan-favourites in one package

Might Not Like

  • Requires Core Set to play
  • Some characters a little advanced for kids
  • Rules have already been altered by developer
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Description

Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Turning the Tide Expansion:

Take your combat skills in Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances to all new levels with the Turning the Tide expansion pack! Davy Jones, Moana, and Stitch bring new attacks and abilities true to their characters that will change the course of the Arena's already epic battles. Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances is the ultimate PvP tabletop game for Disney and Pixar fans and gamers where players can build teams out of Disney and Pixar heroes and villains and compete in an expandable, learn-as-you-go battle arena game. For 2 to 6 players. Ages 13 and up.

The Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Turning the Tide Expansion includes:
3x Acrylic Standee Figures with Bases
3x Character Ability Cards
3x Character Decks (10 cards per deck)
3x Character Turn Tokens
9x Status Effect Tokens
3x Ocean Tiles
Rules

Tidal Shift

Turning the Tide, the first expansion for Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances, has arrived like a wave washing across the game, introducing new mechanics and a sea of fun for all the family. Master wayfinder Moana sails into view, the mischievous Stitch, Experiment 626 himself, surfs by, and the dastardly Davy Jones rises from the dark depths to the surface.

As all good expansions should, Turning the Tide introduces a few new rules which build on existing mechanics without altering their DNA to the point that it becomes divorced from the base experience. First, trickling down to all characters bearing the ‘Oceanic’ keyword: Moana has the ability to place ocean tiles on adjacent spaces in the arena, meaning she and any other Oceanic characters on her team can pass through them and gain an extra movement space. Stitch, like Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey from the Core Set, has a unique Status Effect, ‘No Punchbacks’, meaning inflicted opponents can’t hurt this bulletproof blue beast! Finally, the expansion introduces Constant Abilities, ongoing buffs that will always trigger when certain conditions are met.

Going With The Flow

All three characters included feel, if anything, even more thematic than many of those in the base game; it’s a joy to see developer The OP Games already leaning into experimentation and pushing the envelope with characters beyond simple ‘strong’, ‘fast’ and ‘defensive’ archetypes.

Moana focuses very strongly on movement, as her entire source material consists of her “sailing across the sea”. By soaking the board in her ocean tiles, she allows not just herself but other nautical allies to navigate around their opponents with ease. Delightfully, this means deciding when and where to place these tiles to maximise movement feels like you too are wayfinding, checking the wind and plotting the best course, tying gameplay to narrative like the tightest of reef knots.

Stitch is appropriately all over the place, like his chaotic personality on-screen, being the first character to have modifiers based on whether he has odd or even health points. He feels suitably tough, deflecting damage the more he is hit, while dishing it out in spades. Basing his entire ability and upgrade path around a single throwaway line in his movie (“Blue punch buggy!”) feels like an odd thing to define him by when he’s so space-themed, but it works from a gameplay perspective to toughen up a koala-sized alien who can lift a truck.

Davy Jones, however, is the most fascinating character in the game so far. Recruiting his own allies in indentured servitude, he inflicts Cursed not on your opponent’s characters but on your own. This status effect from the Core Set removes one health at the start of every turn, but for Jones it invokes the curse of the Flying Dutchman to empower him and his crew; his cards and ability both rely on allies being Cursed to pull off this terror of the deep’s most powerful effects (including summoning the ferocious Kraken!). Not only does this suit his callous methods as this expansion’s only villain, but the delicate risk-reward of cursing allies is an entirely innovative strategy for Sorcerer’s Arena, requiring more thought and timing than simply walking up to opponents and whacking them.

Hidden Currents

One issue worth mentioning is the recent rules errata. The game saw its main playtesting phase during the pandemic, so when more competitive play began as restrictions opened up, the developers quickly discovered players’ ability to push the mechanics and card interactions to their limits.

Subsequently, the rules regarding ocean tiles have changed to prevent in-game exploits, and the entire expansion will see an updated second print run, adding the red and blue team colours to either side of the tiles so you can flip them depending on which player controls them. This deviates from the base rules, where ocean tiles weren’t colour-coded; your opponents could take advantage of them as well. Unfortunately, while this perhaps necessary alteration will result in a more balanced foundation going forward, it does mean Moana’s entire deck is ‘wrong’: any lines which reference “ocean tiles” should read “ocean tiles you control”. It seems like a small addition, and ongoing games like this are always going to have slight rules tweaks to avoid the dreaded power creep (when so many new mechanics being introduced means older sets become weaker can fall by the wayside), but such a fundamental switch basically right out the gate mere weeks after release leaves me feeling a little disappointed the set wasn’t more rigorously playtested.

The victory points for all three characters in the expansion have also been lowered by one, and while this amounts to a single number changing, it’s just something else to remember if you want to play the game the way the developers intend you to for the most refined gameplay.

Making Waves

Enough about the internal workings; what about the outer shell? The artwork is charming, as usual, though you’d be hard-pressed to botch this when working on any aesthetic derived from the timeless art of Disney. But the app’s (and now the board game’s) slightly polygonal-edged, almost cel-shaded style pops on the tabletop. I’m enjoying the more abstract cards – with images of particle effects or objects – just as much as I appreciate the recreated shots from the movies and even some original frames. Regardless, tailor-making assets specifically for the game instead of just ripping stills from the films was a very wise choice which many other Disney-licensed games have not opted for.

This whole expansion is awash in the blue tones of its theming, from the cool turquoise of the box to the ocean tiles within. Each character’s deck evokes the mood of their movie, with Moana’s bioluminescent greens and night-sky purples thrown in with crystal clear waters, contrasted against Davy Jones’ cruel midnight hues and violent red cutting through like a cutlass.

Happy As A Clam

I’m proud of the developers for not introducing a single classic princess yet, as you’d think they’d be the lowest hanging fruit, so both their restraint and opting for some slightly more obscure but vastly more interesting heroes and villains is admirable. On top of that, fitting two fan-favourites into the same box (rather than spreading them out amongst multiple less desirable options) then adding a third character for slightly more mature viewers appeals to a broad spectrum of player types.

Turning the Tide steers the ship that is Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances in precisely the direction I had hoped for after having an absolute blast with the Core Set. More complex play strategies truly expand the game and synergise with the existing elements to create an even more well-rounded whole, and the developers have surprised me once again with their ability to pair such a child-friendly aesthetic and theme with truly devious gameplay decisions and combinations that feel limitless. If the Core Set got me hooked, Turning the Tide has me scanning the horizon for the wonders that might appear next.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Introduces more complex characters to the roster
  • Complements Core Set well
  • Thematic fan-favourites in one package

Might not like

  • Requires Core Set to play
  • Some characters a little advanced for kids
  • Rules have already been altered by developer