I almost backed this based on the artwork alone. As you can see from the pictures here Radlands is a beautiful game. The cards artwork, the box, the punks, the water pieces and if you are lucky enough to own the player matts like me wow... just WOW! They make your table look like a work of art.
All pieces come together in this box to make the game work smoothly as intended. The water tokens are easy to use and feel great in hand and the plastic bend resistant cards are superb. Bend shuffle these to your hearts content. No need for sleeves as these punks can take a beating.
As expected from Daniel Piechnick, one of the creators of Magic the Gathering, the card play is smooth and simple to follow with clear symbology and effects that should be easy for everyone to learn. The gameplay in Radlands is super simple; each player has 3 main base cards that they must protect and each of these will have a basic power on it.
These are dealt out at random at the start of each game from a large deck of cards and players also have 3 water tokens that pay for actions each round, first player only gets 1 water on their first turn to negate the first player’s advantage.
Players are also able to have Punk cards in their hands equal to the card scores on their base cards, one player could have weak base cards so start with 4+ punks in hand whilst the other payer could potentially start with 1 or 0 punks in hand because they have stronger base cards in play. This leads to limited options at the start of games for some players, is from what I have played a very well-balanced system.
At the start of each turn the current player draws one punk card into their hand to help them out and if needed players can also spend 2 water to get a new card as well but, the water is needed for other things on the whole.
Cards can be junked to get the ability in the top left-hand corner or played down in one of the 3 rows to protect the cards below it. If already in play, then a card’s effects can be used by spending its water cost. The water cost next to the name on each card is how much it costs to play the card down into your tableau and the effects listed at the bottom also come with a water cost, but these can only be used once the cards are in play.
The effects available in Radlands are healing (which usually does not ready the cards unless specified), Damage (rotates a card on the first hit and destroys on the second hit), Destroy (usually costs more but is very powerful), damage a human (same as general damage but, only against "human" cards) or advance your event cards 1 space (activate immediately if in slot 1). Some cards also give you 1 extra water token but, these are rare.
Event cards are numbered and join your attack in the slot that matches the number on them. Event cards can range from 1 to 3 with 1 activating after 1 turn and therefore cards event cards numbered 3 taking 3 turns to activate. At the start of each of your concurrent turns the event cards in play move 1 space forward before you do anything else or you can advance them by playing ability with the event icon on it. These event cards can be very powerful and hard to defend against. Both players start each game of Radlands with a Raiders event card that starts in slot 2 when played and a Water Tower card that allows you to store 1 water token for use next round.
Radlands is a very serious card game with a card for pretty much every situation and this overtakes the fun a little for some players. My partner for example just finds it a little too much for her and so if you are not interested in taking part in a serious battle with one other player then this may not be for you. There is a limited number of things you can do each turn which some may find annoying.
Personally, I enjoy it and I think that the strategy is tight and very involved. There is a lot to keep an eye out for though and it can catch you out if you are not in the right mood for it. If I want a serious one-on-one card battle against another serious gamer friend, then Radlands is my new go-to game.
A beautiful and thematic card game. One to play with serious and experienced game players. It can really hum at a great speed and intensity when both players understand what they are trying to do and when both players are able to see the matrix behind the strategy behind trying to defend and attack at the right times.
For those of you who are not serious gamers or like lighter games I would not suggest this but, for most of my friends and most people reading this, go get Radlands and you will love Radlands as I do. Radlands is a fantastic game and I cannot wait for my next dose of punktastic strategy battling. It is complex enough to make you think hard but, quick enough that you can try again... and again... if you lose a game. Very addictive!