Thunderstone: Thornwood Siege – subtle mechanics that change the game in big ways

After the last several Thunderstone expansions, I really was very interested about what new mechanics might come as part of “Thunderstone: Thornwood Siege”.  We’ve seen traps, escalating monsters, guardians, and new diseases.  What could be next?

This new set simply added two new rules:  Raid and Stalk.  These are both effects that appear on monster cards, and they make it a little more dangerous to venture into the dungeon. Both effects work in the same way.  If a monster with either effect flips, an effect happens that is listed on the card.  If it is a “Raid” effect, then the player who flipped the card immediately does what the card says.  If it is a “Stalk” effect, the player who flipped the card takes a token corresponding to the effect, and that effect happens at the beginning of their next turn.

The effects on these new cards were interesting and caused some unintended consequences.  One of the effects that was common on raid cards was “When revealed, destroy two cards from the most expensive Village Stack”.  The result of this was that we had very few buying options by the end of the game.  Everything had been destroyed, or bought up.   And before you think, “Yeah, but only the really expensive cards!”, just think:  It starts with the cards that cost 8 or 9, but before too long those are all gone and you start destroying the 5’s and 6’s, and then, the 3’s and 4’s.  The destruction trickled down and touched everything.   It really made us play some different tactics, because the expensive cards just were not there for very long.

Stalk cards also pulled some very interesting effects into the mix.  Things you might not think of, such as, on the next turn you are compelled to go to the dungeon.  Or, on your next turn, discard one card at random.  These were odd penalties that really brought a level of interest back into the game.

A look at the stalk cards and tokens.

A look at the stalk cards and tokens.

But ultimately, it wasn’t the new Raid or Stalk rules that I loved about this new expansion.  I love the new uses of Militia.  Yeah, you heard me, Militia!  Those cards that you can’t usually trash fast enough.  Those pesky little cards that take up so much room in your deck and give you so little benefit.  Militia are the cards that we usually love to hate, but in this set, I actually found myself buying Militia.  Why?  Because Militia have suddenly turned into drawing power and easy sources of XP.

Making Militia useful!

If you have a Highland Officer in your hand, suddenly those Militia aren’t just taking up room in your deck.  You can cycle past all of those while you are in the dungeon, racking up a +1 for each one along the way.  Oh, and if you’re in the village, why not grab an extra Militia while you’re there.  Free of charge.

Another great use of the Militia?  Kill them for XP!  The Drill Sargent is a hard task master, but I love him.  If you go to the village, you can draw one card for every two XP you have.  But, if you are in the Dungeon, you can destroy a Militia to draw two cards and gain 1 XP!  This makes for an awesome card drawing engine.  One turn I had 10 XP (all from killing Militia that I got for free from my Highland Officer), and I had three Drill Sargents in my hand.  I drew 15 cards, which was my entire deck.  I was able to buy anything I wanted on the table, and was able to pick up a couple more Militia for free, thanks to Highland Officers.

This was an interesting set.  While there wasn’t a slew of new rules, the cards that were present in this set were interesting and thought provoking.  The idea wasn’t:  Lets force them to play differently by adding lots of mechanics!   The idea seemed to be:  Lets force them to play different through subtle card combination that are available.  I was initially disappointed by the lack of new flashy mechanics, but I am now very happy with all the subtle mechanics.

Would you like to read the full rulebook?  Just click here to download!

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 8:15 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Deck Building Games, Resource Management Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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