Monday, February 14, 2011

Thunderstone

THUNDERSTONE  by Alderac Entertainment Group
Published in 2009

Thunderstone is a "pure" card game, meaning that there are no other components than cards. No tokens, no dice.. but about 530 cards to play with. 
The story goes: Evil creatures, known as Doom Knights are looking for items called Thunderstones. If they find all of these stones, they could fulfill a prophecy of corruption over the lands. The first of the Thunderstones has been discovered in the Dungeons of Grimhold, and the Doom Knights are sending their minions to collect it. The players must gather a group of brave heroes, armed with fine weapons and powerful spells, to enter the Dungeons of Grimhold and claim the Thunderstone before the Doom Knights get to it.

Thunderstone has a great re-playability value; only 4 of the 11 heroes, 3 of the 8 types of monsters and 8 of the 19 piles village cards are used per game. These cards may be hand picked, but they may as well be randomly drawn. Village cards, including the heroes, form the 'village', while the deck of monster cards with one thunderstone in it, form the 'dungeon', along with three monsters that are currently face up in the 'dungeon hall'. Only these three monsters may be attacked.


The speciality of a solo-Thunderstone is the fact that the monsters keep on advancing, even if the dungeon hall is already full. This may cause the monsters to "attack" the village, which will cause negative points at the end of the game. In multiplayer Thunderstone this does not happen.


In this game, my heroes are the following:
Chalice Quester - Fighters / clerics, who can cure diseases and support the combat.

Lorigg Thief - Weak fighters... but they generate gold and light.

Amazon Archer - Fighters who have an increased attack score while attacking deeper into the dungeon hall.

Selurin Magician - Wizards, with high magic attack abilities.


All of these heroes may later be upgraded to higher levels. For this act, some experience cards must be spent. Experience is gained by slaying monsters.




The monsters in this game are Dragons, Undead humanoids and Oozes. Dragons are the toughest monsters of all, so this will not be an easy game. The undead, on the other hand, spread diseases which lower the combat abilities of my group.
The starting hand in every game consists of six Militia (the basic fighters, who can be upgraded to "real" heroes"), 2 daggers (basic weapons), 2 iron rations (food items increase the strength of the heroes) and 2 torches (produces light, which is needed to fight off the darkness penalties). 


THE GAME BEGINS:

The dungeon hall is empty at the beginning, so the first few moments are best to be used for village actions. My starting hand has a pretty good gold value, so I get to buy an Amazon Archer.

Harbringer is the first monster to come out to the dungeon hall. This undead creature can be destroyed rather easily - its only speciality is an ability to destroy a spell I might have. At this point of the game, I have no spells, so this doesn't scare me.




The militia are abundant at the beginning of the game. They are nearly useless, as they have a very low attack score, they can't use most of the weapons and they don't produce gold.






A spear is bought. Spear adds to the attack score, and it may be thrown (and lost) to increase this bonus.

A red dragon, "Tyxr the Old" comes out. This beast is way too powerful for my party to destroy at this early point of the game.

I bought Goodberries.
This food item not only increases the strength of a hero, but also transforms the normal attack of this hero into a magical attack. Also, for some reason, this is the only item that produces a victory point at the end of the game.




"Mythlurian", a green dragon appears. This dragon is slightly weaker than the red one, but still very powerful.




The dungeon hall is now full, which means that after this point, the monsters will keep on entering the village, if I don't do something to stop them.








The Harbringer is destroyed before it reaches the village. A band of two militia with torches and a dagger was enough to do this.A third dragon - a white one called "Skaladak" enters the hall. This dragon is even weaker than the green one, but still probably too strong for my group... Especially when it is at the darkest area of the hall.
The red dragon enters the first rank of the hall, where it uses its 'breach' effect; I have two less cards to use during my next turn. And as predicted, the dragon gets through during the next turn.
A lantern is bought to bring some light into darkness, and the fifth monster to appear is an ooze creature called a Red Jelly.


Success! One of the dragons gets slain.
An Amazon with a spear, backed up with three militia manages to kill the white dragon off. The spear is thrown and lost in the fight.



This kill is big enough to hold the monsters at bay during my next turn.





A Chalice Quester is recruited. Right after this, I get a chance to upgrade him, so he becomes a Chalice Defender. I also get to buy a Lightstone Gem, the best and the brightest of all the light-producing items.

At the same time, another dragon attacks the village. I buy a feast for my group. This item increases strength and attack for all of the heroes present. Another white dragon appears... Lots of dragons to deal with.




An undead creature called Famine is destroyed. It infects my party with a disease during the fight.





A powerful Selurin Magician is recruited. These people can conjure up vast amounts of magical attack powers, especially if I get to level them up.Meanwhile, my disease-ridden militia is too weak to fight, so I visit the village to buy a short sword.
A successful raid at the dungeon hall: The Chalice Defender, an Amazon Archer and one militiaman slays a green dragon! Lightstone gem provided enough light. The militia was destroyed, but that is a very reasonable price to pay for such a great kill.




I visited the village, bought a spear and then upgraded the Chalice Defender to Chalice Paladin. I now have my first level 3 hero - these heroes are not only very effective in combat, but also provide victory points at the end of the game.




Next turn I get no heroes at all. During this downtime, a Black Slime manages to slip into the village. The good thing is, that I had enough gold to buy the most expensive asset in stock: The Fireball spell. Fireballs produce magic attack and light, and they don't even need a hero to use them.Another Chalice Quester is hired. The most powerful monster so far, a blue dragon named "Uyril Unending" enters the dungeon hall.
Time passes without me accomplishing anything significant... I hire a Trainer to turn my militia into experience.




The most powerful monster in the whole game makes entrance to the dungeon hall: "Ebon Fume", the black dragon. This creature would be a great kill, granting nice amounts of experience, victory points, and even a trophy effect for future combats... But it is nearly impossible to defeat with its immunity to magic attacks and huge amount of health.









The dungeon hall has became a very dangerous place. The Ebon Fume has advanced to the first rank, and other ranks have been occupied by some Noxious Slags.. These Ooze monsters are resistant to magic, and immune to most weapons. This would be the time to kill the black dragon, but I doubt I have such a strength at my disposal.And no luck: The dragon attacks the village, bringing loads of negative victory points. I probable won't win this game...Finally my heroes team up. A formidable group is formed: The Chalice Paladin, Chalice Quester, Amazon Archer and a Selurin Magician backed up with a lightstone gem venture to the deepest part of the dungeon hall and slays a red dragon! The Amazon is destroyed by the dragon, but a short sword is gained as spoils. But even this mighty party would probably have been unable to kill the black dragon - that is how strong it was...

The Thunderstone is found. In order to claim it, I need to kill a Gray Ooze- monster.

I also bought last of the fireball- spells, and trained one of my militia as a Selurin Magician.




The Thunderstone is claimed! A Chalice Quester with a short sword and a lightstone gem killed the Gray Ooze, and returned to the village with the Thunderstone.But what is left of the village, after all the monsters that have gotten past my heroes, and attacked it... It's time to count the scores. I'm having a bad feeling about this.



Negative 27 points! I think it's safe to say that the village was ruined, and the lone Quester who returned with the Thunderstone, was greeted with a horde of monsters...

CONCLUSION:

Phew! The dragons are difficult! This game went badly, that much is for sure, but any game of Thunderstone with some of its most difficult monsters in the dungeon, is a challenge.
The original Thunderstone game does not come with solo-rules, but these can be found from the Alderac Entertainment Groups website, as well as from the rules of the Wrath of the Elements expansion set for Thunderstone. In these rules, there are three different difficulty levels (this game was with the medium). The difficulty is also affected by the cards - especially the monster cards - picked to be used.

You need luck to win a game of Thunderstone. This is one of the bad qualities of games like these; when you draw your hand, you can quickly see what you can do, and what you can't do on that turn. Of course it is a lot of fun, and sometimes even quite challenging to analyse every possible action you could take, but at the end, it all comes down to your card-drawing luck of the day. Of course, with most of the games including some dice-rolling, the case is about the same, but somehow it seems so harsh with the cards... I guess it is supposed to be this way, after all, this is a solitaire.

The cards are of very high quality: Durable enough, and very nice to look at. The pictures on the cards enable one to really sink into the game, and I for one like to picture the combat situations in my head, making them much more than just adding up the numbers.
Talking about the numbers, it may take some time to memorise the meanings of all the numbers on the cards. Health, strength, weight, exp value, VP value, light and cost are pretty much just numbers, without very clear markings about what they are supposed to represent. But at least for me, this in not a big deal, perhaps a little annoying during the first game...

RATING: 7 /10

SOLO RATING: 8 /10

Thunderstone is not a cooperative game. If played with more than one player, the players try to score as much victory points as possible. Some of the card effects only affect other players, so these cards are much less usable in a solo game. This is a downside with the solo gaming, but having said that, I must add that Thunderstone is still one of the best solitaires for me.
When playing this game alone, there is no hurry, and you can sink into the game tactics, and its gorgeous artwork very nicely. I'm sure that a multiplayer Thunderstone is a very nice experience as well, but for me this game is - above all - for soloing.

1 comment:

  1. nice writeup I just bought the original set, and Dragonspire to play solo, looking forward to it.

    ReplyDelete