(2016 – Foursight Games)
Foursight Games was founded amongst four friends in 2015 as a small publisher of card and board games. Launching their initial project through Kickstarter, designer (and Foursight co-founder) Robert Nicaise’s Fate of Akalon: Tribes was successfully funded in March 2016.
Fate of Akalon: Tribes is a 2-player head-to-head card battle game that plays in less than 30 minutes. Each player controls one of the four included tribes (or factions), and cards in each tribe deck contains various types of tribe members, each with special abilities and numbered anywhere from 0-8. The game progresses through a series of battles, where the attacking player will play a card (resolving any special abilities, followed by the defending player. Combat values are then compared, and the winner gets to keep his card by placing it in his discard pile (for possible later use). The player that has lost the battle places his card into his cemetery. The number listed on the card in the cemetery is considered Victory Points for the opposing player. At the end of a battle, if a player has accumulated 30 or more points in his cemetery, the opposing player has won the game.
– Dwarf Tribe deck
– Elf Tribe deck
– Orc Tribe deck
– Undead Tribe deck
The setup for a game session of Fate of Akalon: Tribes is quite simple. Each player chooses one of the four tribe decks (Dwarf, Elf, Orc, or Undead), shuffles these cards and places the deck face-down in front of their play area. Each tribe deck plays differently. For instance, the Dwarf deck uses a defensive strategy, whereas the Elf deck relies on card manipulation.
The space in front of each player’s draw deck is considered their Battlefield. During the game, the player will place active cards in the Battlefield to attack and defend with. At the beginning of the game however, each player will draw the top card from their tribe deck and place it here. This is considered the initial “skirmish”. Each card in a deck contains a combat value in the top-right corner of the card.
During this initial skirmish during setup, the player that has the card with higher combat wins the skirmish and will place his card in his discard pile face-up (to the right of the draw pile). Cards in the discard pile will be shuffled back into the tribe’s deck once the draw pile is empty.
The player that lost the skirmish must place his card into his cemetery (to the right of the discard area). Cards in a cemetery are considered removed from the game, however some card abilities may allow players to retrieve them. Even though the player has lost the skirmish, he does get to choose which player gets to attack first. Each battle in the game consists of one player being the attacker, and the other the defender. Once chosen, both players will draw 5 cards into their hand from their draw deck, and the first battle is ready to begin.
Before explaining how a battle works, lets first take a look at what information is listed on the cards. As mentioned before, the combat value is listed in the top-right corner of each card. The bottom left corner of the card will list any special attributes that creature may contain, while text in center text box will include bonuses and abilities the player will resolve when using the card. The dots on the bottom-right corner of the card under the faction name represent how many cards of that type are in the overall tribe deck.
For instance, the Orc Spearman seen above contains a combat value of 2. He also has the “Range” attribute, which his special ability enforces by allowing the player to immediately play another card into the battlefield. Finally, according to the bottom-right corner of the card, he is 1 of 2 Spearman found in the Orc tribe deck.
During the game, players will resolve a series of battles until at least one player has a combined combat value of 30 or more amongst the cards in his cemetery. The player with the lesser combat value at the end of the game wins. Each battle in the game consists of a series of steps which are resolved in order. At the end of the battle, if neither player’s cemetery value has reached 30, a new battle ensues.
I. Attack – To begin a battle, the attacker will play a card from their hand, to their battlefield, resolving any applicable card text.
For instance, the Dwarven player (as the attacker) chooses to play his Hammer card. This card forces the opposing player to be the attacker next turn, thus allowing the Dwarven player to possibly win this battle, and still have the advantage of playing 2nd during the next battle.
Also, the Hammer’s normal combat value is 3, although if currently the defending player, his special ability would add +2. Since in this case, he is the attacker, this +2 modifier will not apply.
II. Defend – Next, the defender will play a card from their hand, to their battlefield, resolving any applicable card text as well.
For instance, the Elven player responds by playing a Master Summoner into the battlefield. Her ability has the player reveal the top to cards of the Elven tribe deck, add one to the battlefield, then discard the other.
As such, the player ends up drawing a Seer and a Commander, as seen below. He’ll choose to keep the Commander in the battlefield, whom forces him to choose to either draw a card and add it to his hand, or discard a card from his hand.
III. Battle – After all card text have been resolved, players will compare their overall combat value between the two battlefield areas. Its important to note that card text is not allowed to reduce another card’s combat value to 0. The player with the highest combat value is considered the winner of this battle. If players happened to tie, both players lose the battle.
For instance, as seen in the battlefield, the Dwarven player has a total combat value of 3, while the Elven player has a total of 7. Therefore, the Elven player wins this battle.
IV. Aftermath – The winning player will place his card(s) from the battle into his discard pile, while the losing player will place his card(s) from the battle into his cemetery area.
As seen above, the Elven player’s Master Summoner and Commander cards would be placed in his discard pile (and for possible use later), while the Dwarven player’s Hammer card is placed in his cemetery, as seen below. The 3 points of combat value from the Hammer card is now considered 3 points towards the Dwarven player’s cemetery limit of 30.
V. Initiative – The attacker and defender for the upcoming battle (if necessary) are selected. If the attacking player won the battle this round (or if there was a tie), he will remain the attacker for next round. If the attacking player lost this round, the opposing player will assume the attacker role next round. Basically, the player that has won this battle will become the attacking player for the next battle.
VI. Victory Check – At this point, players will total the combat value amongst the cards in the cemetery. As mentioned before, if a player’s total equals 30 or more, the game immediately ends and the player with the lesser combat value wins. Otherwise, players will prepare for the next battle.
VII. Reinforcements – If a player no longer has any cards in his hand, he will draw 5 new cards from his faction deck at this time. If the faction deck becomes empty during this step, the player will reshuffle all cards from his discard pile to create a new draw deck, then will draw from there. After the Reinforcements step, a new battle resolves beginning with the attacker playing a card.
An impressive, initial design for a first-time publisher. Combining aspects of hand management and special card abilities, Fate of Akalon: Tribes contains an admirable balance between calculated decision-making and a simplistic set of rules, all woven together in a 2-player card game that plays in less than 30 minutes.
Though simplistic in design, the inclusion of four varied factions (or tribes) that, from a strategic standpoint play quite differently, aids in giving the game a bit of legs. It will be interesting to see what, if any, expansions Foursight Games has in store. The game is ripe for adding more factions, or even broadening the available unit types for the current four factions. With more unit types available, it’d be interesting to see a deck-building aspect included, with players able to build their own tribe of a particular faction by using a predetermined point-value system that must be consistent from deck to deck.
Having said that, the four included tribes and their unit types are well designed out of the box and balance quite well with each other. As with any variable powers game, it will take a few plays to get the hang of what strategy a certain faction offers and the best way to use, manipulate, and combo the units within. I also extremely enjoy how the cemetery system works in regard to gaining Victory Points. It’s great to throw out that Orc with an combat value of 8, but if you end up losing the battle with him somehow, that’s 8 points against your cemetery value. Once that hits 30, you’re done. Add to this that players are (for the most part) force to decide what order to play the 5 cards in their hand, as you normally won’t be able to draw another set of cards until all 5 of these have been played. Therefore, not only is the order of the cards played of importance, but also triggering their combat values at the right time, so as not to put yourself in a bind.
Fate of Akalon: Tribes is an impressive filler-style card battle game. Containing a solid design, it doesn’t attempt to do more than it’s meant to (which is a good thing). It’s not a game that will take you hours to master, but the factions play differently enough that exploring each strategy they contain is quite rewarding and adds to the level of replayability. I’d love to see Foursight Games expand on the game down the road with more factions, more unit types for the current factions, or a mix of both. But as is, Fate of Akalon: Tribes is one worth picking up if you’re a fan of the card battle game genre.