It’s been a while since I’ve had a boardgame post, but I had a couple of things I wanted to talk about.

First, a few weeks ago we went to the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, always a great time of games, friends and food. And I won a t-shirt.

Kinda cool, huh? My thanks to Longbow Games who were there promoting their upcoming game Hegemony Rome.

We picked up one game while we were there, Shadowrift from Game Night Productions. The game’s designer, Jeremy Anderson, sat with us for about an hour, explained the set-up and rules, and played a full game. It was a lot of fun, a cooperative deckbuilder where you work as a group to defeat the monsters killing folks in your town.

Haven Town is facing total annihilation at the hands (and teeth) of a horde of monsters from beyond the Shadowrift.

You the heroes must band together to drive them back.  To do this, you will need powerful spells, skills, attacks and loot.  When the game begins, you are a basic hero; you can explore and fight.  Lucky for you, this is a deckbuilding game!  You can buy new cards to add to your deck – cards which will define you as an adventurer and complement the strengths of your fellow heroes.

Unlike other deckbuilders, there is constant interaction with your fellow players, as you figure out who will gain which benefit from the limited supply of townsfolk, offer your coin to help construct walls, and seek healing from anyone who’s learned such magic.

Shadowrift also features monsters that do not merely sit in play waiting to be slain – If you leave them alone they will rip Haven Town asunder.  They’ll kill people, break walls, and kick you heroes in the face.  Combat with them is intuitive (though frequently painful).

For defeating a monster, heroes gain Heroism, a simple, consistent boost to their power that makes them better at anything they undertake.  Since the monsters won’t stop coming until the last Shadowrift is sealed or the town has been built into a mighty fortress, you’ll need every boost you can take.

The game is designed for 2-6 players ages 13 and up. Amber is 12 and had no problem playing. She plays a lot of boardgames, though, and has experience with both cooperative games and a dice-builder which is the same concept as a deck-builder, so neither concept is new to her. She also plays with our game night group, all adults aside from her, but she holds her own for the most part.

With cooperative games, sometimes one player can take over, but we haven’t had that happen in any of the games we’ve played. We’ve talked through our choices, but in the end we can each still do what we want.

At first look, the rules can seem a bit complicated and it probably helped immensely that we had Jeremy to teach us, but after you get the hang of it, it plays well. And the game’s different every time because you can vary the cards that are available and which monsters are attacking. Fun, replayable, with a good playing time, about 1 to 1½ hours for us. The cards are good quality and I like the card dividers that are provided, making storing it in the box much more organized and easier to pull out next time to play.

For those of you who play games on a regular basis, this one’s similar to Dominion in the deck-building aspect, and I love Dominion it’s one of my favorites, but it reminds me of Thunderstone in killing monsters with Shadowrift the more enjoyable game of the two for me.

As far as I can tell, Shadowrift is available on-line only through Game Night Productions. You can order it here.

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