Deck builders took off after the classic Dominion, and since then the mechanic has been used in different and interesting ways such as Tyrants of the Underdark and Clank! It's also been refined with games like Star Realms. Tabula Games are following up their successful campaign for Mysthea with a two-player deck building game set in the same universe that plays more like Star Realms, but with some unique twists.
Volfyirion is the name of a dragon that plays a major role in the game. During set-up a card will be placed that acts as the dragon's lair. From this lair you can purchase wonder cards, or attempt to control the dragon and send it against your opponent, or even take it on yourself!
Most of the set-up is straightforward for anyone who has played a deck builder. A common market is laid out in the middle of the table and each player gets a deck of relatively weak starting cards, which they hope to improve through purchasing cards from the market.
Just like other deck builders, cards will give money to buy new cards or strength to attack your enemy or both, but Volfyirion also has a third currency - knowledge. Knowledge is how you can briefly take control of the dragon, moving it from it's lair to an opponent's city, or from one of your cities back to it's lair. This is hugely important as if you finish your turn with Volfyirion on one of your cities.... that city is instantly destroyed including any cards on it.
The other thing knowledge can be used for is to deactivate or reactivate wonder cards. Wonder cards are played to the table in front of you and stay there unless you permanently remove them from the game for a bonus. When on the table they provide one of the three currencies on each of your turns. Should your enemy resent this fountain of continual blessing they can spend an amount of knowledge to deactivate the card. You can reactivate it by spending the same.
Here be Dragons
I've mentioned cities, these act as your health. To win you must destroy your opponent's cities before they destroy yours. Cities can be fortified with a guard card which essentially gives them another 'life' or have a building added to them which provides resources on your turn similar to wonder cards.
Also, if you ever get 16 or more strength you can take out Volfyirion, adding the lair to your cities as an extra life that gives you four strength each turn. Lastly, cards come in various colours, and some cards will trigger extra powers when cards of the shown colour are played, think of it as a simplified but more open version of Star Realms' factions.
All this adds up to a considered experience, with more options than some of it's rivals. Do you build a knowledge heavy deck in an attempt to use Volfyirion to destroy your enemy, or build up a smorgasbord of wonder cards with which to draw resources from every turn? Do you build up your cities early with buildings and guards? Despite these choices the game plays at a reasonable clip and is super enjoyable.
The cream on the cake is the way Tabula Games are running their campaign, from the great pledge levels and price points to the way they have encouraged backer interaction with the campaign, it is a slick project.
If you like deck builders you owe it to yourself to check out the campaign. At the time of writing, more than 3000 backers have helped to raised just under £60,000.