If you are in to fantasy card games, you might want to take a look at Shadow Days, which the creator’s describe as a deckbuilding fantasy game. It is in its last three days of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the creators are offering some great incentives to those who donate. Though it didn’t turn out to be a game that appealed to my main game group (stinky Euro-gamers, all of us), Shadow Days is an interesting, dice-based combat game that could scratch the itch for players looking for a 100% confrontational card game where you win by one method—destroying your opponent. If that sounds like something you would be interested in, head over to the Kickstarter page and help bring the total up to the final incentive level.
Calling Shadow Days a deckbuilder stretches that term quite a bit. It actually has more in common with tableau games like Race for the Galaxy than deckbuilders like Dominion. Instead of drafting a deck, players draft a collection of five cards into a tableau in front of them. These cards are mostly creature, but can also include magic items to be used in battle and strongholds which can protect “bench” creatures and give bonuses to active creatures.
A quick description of game play should let you know if this is a game for you. Players take turns choosing one of their creatures to attack one of their opponent’s creatures. Creatures have an attack value that must be rolled on a twenty-sided dice in order for the attack to succeed. If the player rolls that number or higher, the opponent’s creature is killed and the player loses life points equal to the life-point value of that creature. The game continues until all but one of the players is reduces to zero health.
That is basically the game. There are items that provide alternative attacks and opportunities to switch out creatures, but the game is in its essence a back-and-forth dice fest. When I read the description it anticipation of receiving the playtest copy, my heart sank. This just isn’t the type of game that appeals to my main play group. It would be greatly appealing to my D&D group, but I knew that that wouldn’t be meeting during the Kickstarter campaign. My main game group likes heavier games and dislikes the randomness of dice rolls, so it simply wasn’t a good fit with them. They simply didn’t feel the game offered enough strategic decisions to make it feel like they had earned a victory rather than lucked into it.
I was ready to just pass on recommending the game until I got in a few games with my daughter. She loved the game and my young son even joined in. The strange thing was that I really enjoyed it also. I can’t remember the last game I played and enjoyed with so large a random element. Probably, only the classic Nuclear War, which comes to the table occasionally, is as dependent on dice rolls as Shadow Days among the games we play. But, for what it is, Shadow Days is an enjoyable romp. If you are a fan of Steve Jackson games and similar designs, I think Shadow Days will appeal to you. While struggling with how to express what I thought was good about the game without recommending it to readers who might not enjoy it, I was so glad to watch Shadow Days reach its Kickstarter goal. This is a well-designed and attractive game which, though maybe not for everybody, should be a big hit with its target audience.