Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin
Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin is a refined stand-alone expansion to a franchise that has been very successful and seen many expansions over the past years. Though it is compatible with all of the cards from previous expansions we actually recommend anyone new to the game start with Thunderstone Advance. It is a much improved game than its predecessors, and the game’s publisher, AEG, highly supports this franchise. There is no doubt that there will be much to look forward to in terms of future expansions and support.
Another reason this is the perfect time to get into Thunderstone is because AEG has made the game much more accessible to casual gamers. The rules have been refined, the card text has been made much clearer, and they’ve even created a tutorial style introduction to get you right into the game without having to read the full rulebook.
This is a deck building game at its core. Players start with their own small deck with 12 basic cards, and through the game work on their own to gradually acquire more cards to add to their deck. At the end of your turn you discard the cards you had in your hand that turn, and draw six new cards. When your draw deck is empty, you will shuffle all your discarded and newly acquired cards to create a new draw deck and draw six new cards. The end goal is to create powerful card combinations that give them the ability to defeat monsters and gain victory points.
In this game you are a leader recruiting heroes and acquiring equipment, weapons, spells and more to defeat creatures and ultimately defeat the Thunderstone Bearer. The Thunderstone Bearer is a final boss that is more powerful than the other monsters in the game.
On your turn you can do one of four things:
• Visit the village to acquire new cards and level up your heroes.
• Go to the Dungeon to attack the monsters that lie within.
• Prepare for your next turn by discarding cards from your hand you don’t want and putting the rest back on your deck to draw for your next turn.
• Remove one card in your hand from the game.
Each player is building their own deck, trying to acquire cards that create powerful attack combinations to be able to defeat monsters. Monsters gain you victory points, and it is the player with the most victory points after the Thunderstone Bearer is defeated that will win the game.
What has always been the draw for us with Thunderstone is the fact that the hero cards you acquire can be upgraded with the experience points (XP) you gain as you defeat monsters. It’s a fun RPG element that rewards you through the entire game.
Each hero has three levels, and you typically acquire them at level one. Below is an example of the three levels of a hero. Notice that as he levels up he becomes more powerful and his abilities become much more effective.
Other New Cards
In previous releases of Thunderstone, it would usually take many turns before you could enter the dungeon with enough attack power to defeat a monster. It was also common to have an excess of experience points later in the game with nothing to spend them on. These next three cards have taken large strides in eliminating those issues.
Regulars & Thunderstone Shards: At the start of the game, among the 12 cards you start with are six regulars and two thunderstone shards. These go a long way in making your deck stronger faster, as well as giving you extra XP to level your heroes up more quickly. (Regulars take the place of Militia and Thunderstone Shards take the place of Iron Rations from the previous Thunderstone games)
Familiars: Once per game each player may acquire one random familiar card. This card can be used multiple times during the game. It has up to three abilities that it can perform, depending on the number of XP you have in your resource pool. The more XP you’ve collected and not spent, the more powerful these cards are.
Single Player Variant
Another big draw for this game is that it includes a single player option that is in ways more challenging than playing with others. The rules are altered slightly, and give the game a sense of urgency which is a lot of fun. Monsters are constantly being revealed almost every turn, and for the turns you don’t defeat a monster, one of them will escape. The game ends when the Thunderstone Bearer has either been defeated or has escaped. To win you must have gained more victory points by defeating monsters, than the collective victory points of the monsters that have escaped.
The interior of the box has plenty of room to hold and organize the included cards, as well as expansions to come. There are card dividers for all the cards, making it easier to find the specific cards you need when laying out the game. Like many deck building games, you won’t use all the cards for each game. Whether you are following a pre-made scenario, or using the randomizer cards, you’ll be pulling out three types of monsters, four different heroes and a variety of villager, weapon, item and spell cards.
This leads to the other great addition to this game… the board! The board has two sides; a dungeon side and a wilderness side. The dungeon side is for the standard game, but makes the monsters more difficult to defeat. The wilderness side is new to Thunderstone and makes defeating monsters easier. Both sides have a limited number of spaces for each type of card, to make sure your randomized games are always balanced. Another nice touch with the board is that it gives you a better sense of what you’re doing during your turn. There is a section for the dungeon/wilderness, and another section for the village, with spaces for the basic, weapon, item, spell villager and familiar cards. Though you don’t have to use the board, it is a great addition that you will want to use each time you play.
If you’ve never played a deck building game, the full rulebook could be a bit intimidating. Like we stated earlier, there is a four page “Learn To Play” booklet that will take you step by step from setting up the game to defeating monsters. It will even allow you and others to play a quick game all the way through. After that you can dig in deeper and enjoy the depth of the full game. One suggestion we have is to first unpack the box and put all the card sets with their dividers so it will be easier to find the cards you need.
Because you can play this as a single player game, you can also learn the ropes on your own and then teach others to play once you’ve got things down. Just know that the rules are slightly different between the single player and multiplayer games.
Who would enjoy this?
AEG has made this game better from every angle. If you like Thunderstone, this is a must have. If you’re a fan of deck building games but haven’t tried previous releases of Thunderstone, there is no better time than now to start! This is also a great game to try out if you’ve never played a deck building game, but you enjoy games with a fantasy theme.
Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin is the best release to date for Thunderstone. We’ve been fans since the first game in the franchise was released. Knowing that this marks a new direction for the franchise, we couldn’t be more excited.
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