My first experience with Pixel Lincoln was last year at Gen Con. I had some time to kill and I was holding onto a friends backpack while she did a run of True Dungeon, and I certainly didn’t want to lug it very far! So I looked for a game to camp at for a couple of hours, and a game of Pixel Lincoln was just about to begin. I had no idea what it was, but decided to give it a go. After a hearty chuckle about the premise (a side scrolling, meat slinging, President Lincoln) we got down to the game play. I played through one game, and because of it’s uniqueness, the game stayed rolling around in the back of my mind. So when I was sent a copy to review, I was pretty excited, and the more I play it, the more enamored I become with the game.
|Publisher||Game Salute, Island Officials LLC|
|# of Players||1 - 4|
|Mfg Suggested Ages||10 and up|
|Category||Video Game Theme|
|Mechanic||Deck / Pool Building|
|Expansion||Pixel Lincoln: Blue Noodle Promo Card, Pixel Lincoln: Bonuses Pack, Pixel Lincoln: Pause Promo, Pixel Lincoln: Re-Election, Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game – Expansion 2-1: Environments, Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game – Expansion 2-3: Election Day, Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game – Expansion 2-4: Advanced Mode, Pixel Lincoln: Twenty-One|
For those who are roughly 25 and older, you probably have some pretty fond memories of playing Super Mario Brothers on the NES, and this game harkens back to that. So it already wins some points for nostalgia, as this is a side scrolling game with 16-bit graphics, and enemies you can jump over. But this game is also a deck builder, rolling into town on the momentum of other popular deck builders such as Dominion, Nightfall, and Thunderstone. You build your deck by buying items, and killing enemies, all of which will make you stronger as you progress and have more victory points.
Each turn you face whatever card is in front of your character in the level. If you have jump cards in your hand, you can play them to jump over that card and ignore it’s effects. However, if it is an item, you can pay it’s cost to add it to your deck, and if it’s a bad guy, you can kill them to add them to your score pile. Either way, you are adding points to your deck, and possibly more power. Whenever you get to the level deck (aka killed, bought, or jumped a row of five cards) you “scroll” and flip over cards to replace the row.
Cards also have “suits” which allow you do perform special abilities. Personally, I found this to be one of the gems of the games mechanics. Because it gives you something else to do with cards that might otherwise be useless on your turn, and it gives you one more reason to be picky about what cards to buy and what cards to jump. These suited cards, when discarded perform additional actions, such as letting you score a card from your deck, or exiting the level you are in to go to another level. This is a mechanic that we were a little confused on the first couple times we played, but as we got this idea under our belt, it became evident how truly powerful it could be.
This game, unlike some of it’s deck building brethren, is on a pretty fixed timeline. This means that a game is not going to be extremely short or extremely long. This is handled through the use of “check points”. Each level has three check points, one of which is a mini-boss, and one of which is a boss. Each of these are shuffled into one third of the level deck, so the exact spacing is random, but things tend to be within a certain reasonable range.
There is one downside that I have found: the game has a limited number of cards, much fewer than I would have guessed for a box that size. Each game you play with three kinds of bad guys in each level and three kinds of items in each level. So in two to three games, you have now seen all the goodies the game contains. This isn’t a deal breaker, but after having played a half dozen games of this, I really have started to feel the lack of different flavors. This game is just begging for expansions, and I for one, can not wait for that to come to fruition
Overall, I really like this game. It has grown on me more and more each time I play it, like a fungus, and I have been excited to infest others with this same desire to play it. It has a lot of polish, and the game play and components show it. This is clearly someones baby, and we have had great fun with it.