Thunderstone: Doomgate Legion is the second expansion from AEG for their hit game, Thunderstone. This game adds a few new elements and expands on some old ones. Most prominently this game adds treasures, mercenaries, and special diseases, but there are lots of subtle things that we noticed were expanded on in this expansion, such as more breach effects, other things to do with your XP, and more deck cycling opportunities.
Treasures are nifty, and really powerful. These get shuffled into the dungeon deck and therefore it’s a gamble if one will flip or not. If you can get one to flip on your turn then you receive that treasure immediately and flip another card into the dungeon hall. These treasures do things such as “Draw three more cards”, or “Discard all non-hero cards and draw two more cards for each discarded this way”. These can be used to a players huge advantage, primarily because these do not get shuffled into your deck! You leave these out in your play area until you decide to use them and then they are trashed. So, having trouble killing that big baddy? Don’t quite have enough? Use some treasure! Have a creature licked soundly without it? Save it for later!
Mercenaries are a new card that can be purchased in the village, but work both in the village and in the dungeon. These are kinda like your own personal lackey, who will do anything you need, whenever you need it. One such card, the fortune teller, allows a player to draw a card and then discard a card and gives a +1 in combat. Do you see the immediate advantage there? We did. Draw a card, hopefully a weapon or a hero, and then discard that disease in your hand. We did this time and time again, this was the first card to sell out in one of our games. Mercenaries also interact with other hero cards. One of the new hero’s actually received a +1 for each of these mercenaries he had with him in combat. A very very handy set of cards.
You might think that Doomgate just made the game too easy, but really they were just offsetting how much harder they had made it. This set comes with special disease cards which we loved to hate. With the special diseases, the disease deck is no longer on the board face up, instead players draw their diseases from a random face down deck. Some of the diseases are “regular” while others have devastating effects. One such effect causes all your heroes to lose strength, and if it falls below zero they die. Others cause everything in the village to be more expensive. These are massive disadvantages that we all grumbled about thoroughly. To make matters worse, more and more monsters give out diseases, and not just to the player who attacked, but to all players.
One of the complaints I had in the past is that the usefulness of XP was really limited. Yes you can upgrade your troops, and that’s great, but you can only do so much with that. This set gives you more options for things to do with all of those XP. This set saw some spells that allowed you to do damage based upon this XP. This isn’t one of the flashy things that was advertised in this set, but I think made a big difference to game play. It finally was worth while to stock pile! It also became dangerous to stockpile, as some monsters received bonuses based upon the number of stored XP you had on hand.
For me there was one broken card in this set: Greed Blade. This is a big nasty sword that you don’t want to be on the wrong end of. Why? Because for every 2 gold revealed it received a +1. Well, that doesn’t sound too broken, right? It’s not, until you think about the fact that the greed blade is worth three gold all on it’s own, making it one of the most profitable cards in this set. Broken strategy? Buy a greed blade as soon as possible, which facilitates in buying more greed blades. Soon you’ll have enough money to buy any card you want, any time you want, and you have a horrifically nasty weapon. It was not uncommon for a greed blade to have a +3 or +4 bonus associated with it during a battle. If the greed blade didn’t have it’s own coinage attached to it, this would have been much more balanced.
Over all I was pleased with this expansion. It still had all the flavor of Thunderstone while giving many more options for strategic planning. It also gave more challenges, which was a nice surprise. In the end I like this expansion better then the first one, to me it feels like it added more depth to an already great game. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the next expansion!
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