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Defenders of the Realm - Board Game Box Shot

Defenders of the Realm

Our Liege is in desperate hour! From what grievous cause have these accursed races arisen? Orcs, Dragons, Demons and the Dead make haste towards Monarch City. The King and Countryside of Monarch City is in need of valiant Heroes!

Will you answer the King's call? Designed by Richard Launius (Arkham Horror) and legendary fantasy artist, Larry Elmore.

In the ancient Citadel of Monarch City, the King calls to arms the finest Heroes to defend against a Darkness that engulfs the land. You and your allies must embark on a journey to defend the countryside, repair the tainted lands, and defeat the four creature factions before one of them enters the City, and they approach from all sides -- fast populating Orcs! fierce Dragons! Undead that bring terror! And demons! -- all tainting the land in their wake. There are several paths to defeat, but only one path to victory, and only the most valiant Hero will be named King's Champion.

Defenders of the Realm game components

Defenders of the Realm is a cooperative fantasy board game in which 1-4 players take a role as one of the King’s Champions (Choose from Cleric, Dwarf, Eagle Rider, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard). You, as one of the King's Heroes make use of strategy, special abilities, cooperation, card play and a little luck in Defense of the Realm for a unique experience every adventure. But be forewarned! There is never time to rest. As each Enemy General is struck down in battle, the remaining dark forces only grow more difficult to vanquish and their march to Monarch City gets faster with each Hero victory!

Defenders of the realm Players

images © Eagle Games

User Reviews (19)

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237 of 244 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Difficult yet rewarding when won”

Original Review @ Ooo, Shiny!

Back when the main cooperative games we had were Arkham Horror and Pandemic, I asked a friend for any other recommendations. What we got was a Pandemic-like game that was actually reliably hard!

The game itself isn’t very hard to set up at all and it gets randomized per the cards you draw to determine where pieces are placed. In the end of the setup, it generally looks like this:

Image: Game all set up

Defenders of the Realm is all about defeating 4 Generals that start in roughly the four corners of the board while they spread minions across the board and slowly progress to Monarch City at the centre of the board.

This all seems easy enough and I was told by said friend above that it in fact seems easy even to newcomers from the get go but there is a catch:

+ Each Darkness Spreads phase you draw 1 card and resolve it.
+ Depending how many Generals have been defeated, you may then have to draw two or even three of these cards, resolving them as well.
+ If the Minion pool for a General is empty when you need to place one on the board, game over!
+ If the pool of Taint Crystals is empty when you have to draw one, game over!.
+ And as previously mentioned, if a General gets to Monarch City, game over!

(It is also game over! when 5 Minions make their way into Monarch City but that only occurs through certain cards.)

There is therefore a few ways to lose but only one way to win: Defeat all four Generals before the above conditions occur.

In saying that, the game is very luck heavy. At a base level, you are drawing cards to assist you in defeat the General. Each card has a die (or two) at the bottom showing a number on them (same number depending on General) and to attack a General, you must have X of those cards to roll X dice to try and damage him. In our recent game, we lacked Green cards to try and take the General that stormed into Monarch City. Additionally, the same goes for the Darkness Spreads deck where you may have it lucky at times and others bad things just keep happening. As it is said, it is in the luck of the dice.. or cards in this regard.

At an estimate, the duration of this game I would say could be up to 2 hours depending on how much talking is done and planning between phases. Once you get the hang of it though, it could be done in 1 to 1.5 hours.

With regards to table space, this game as much as it looks like it takes up a decent amount of room, it is still only a max of 4 players and hence doesn’t really take up as much room as you may expect from other board games. I find it to be a good balance as then there is a 1:1 ratio of Heroes to Generals. This doesn’t mean though that it isn’t beatable with less than 3 by any means.

I cannot go any further without mentioning quality. The board and cards are all of good quality. The cards themselves of the decks are actually thicker than normal and I approve of that while the Hero/General boards are of the same thickness as the board itself. This was one of the other aspects of the game that we loved compared to some other games where the card stock may be thinner than normal and need sleeving; Defenders of the Realm is not the case for this at all.

And now I come to the heroes! There is a good amount of variety in the heroes, both in how many there are as well as the special abilities they bring to the table. Some would say the Cleric is always a must have (can remove Tainted Crystals more easily) while others maybe the Sorceress is another needed on the table (can ‘change’ into a Minion each turn to not be noticed by that type). Whichever way you look at it, it all comes down to how the players work together to accomplish the goals at hand.

For me, coming from Pandemic (hard but not as hard as this) and Arkham Horror (more wins than losses), Defenders of the Realm was a welcome edition to the table where we have played easily 10 or more games now and none of them have been a win yet.

In fact, the best game my wife and I have done I believe was with 2 Heroes each and we managed to get 3 Generals defeated before we lost and each time we lose this game, we love that feeling of trying so hard and failing because when we DO win: We would have earned it.

Image: Game over man! Game over!

The game we played prior to this review is just above in that image where with 3 heroes, we managed 1 General to be killed but the game was over when Gorgutt (‘Green’ General) marched into Monarch City unopposed. We knew from near the start that it would be a huge uphill battle as the Minions kept coming and coming and coming. We tried to stem the tide, we laughed and cried at moments, and in the end we bowed our heads in the loss and will revisit the Realm gladly to fight again another day!

If you want a challenge in a fantasy setting for up to 4 players and the potential to go against not just 1 dragon (Sapphire, Blue General) but 4 dragons (expansion) then this may well be the game for you to look into!

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I'm Completely Obsessed
Viscount / Viscountess
Champion Beta 1.0 Tester
193 of 200 gamers found this helpful
“Pandemic meets D&D.”

Defenders of the Realm is the sort of game which takes you out back, beats the ever-loving snot out of you, and laughs as you come crawling back for more, over and over. It’s difficult to win, but there’s just something about it that makes it fun to keep trying.

As a pure co-op game, it suffers from the standard co-op problem – the “game” is controlled by drawing random cards which determine where various enemies pop up and move around. If you get an unlucky shuffle, your game can be over in a few turns. In my group’s playthroughs, however, more often than not it seems like we’re always 1-2 turns from actual victory when the wrong card comes up and we’ve lost the Kingdom to the hordes.

Some characters seem more powerful than others, in my opinion. Any character with an ability to aid in movement around the board can be extremely powerful. The Wizard, the Elf Lord, the Paladin, all of these are able to get where they need to go fairly quickly, which allows you to spend actions building up cards you need. Others, like the Adventurer, while seemingly having some nice abilities, frequently spend all their actions just trying to reach their quest locations or a certain enemy.

The character abilities feel more appropriate than some of the Pandemic roles, and the Quests give a more flavorful taste to the game than simply eradicating 4 colors from the board. With each of those colors having their own abilities and strengths as well, it really helps the game feel fresh and different.

This is a great co-op game for anyone who enjoys High Fantasy as a theme, and will keep young and old busy for hours trying to eek out a victory. And when you do win, it will feel epic, because that win will be hard-fought and far between.

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Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
140 of 147 gamers found this helpful
“My new favorite adventure game”

To be fair, I must state upfront that I am writing this review after only a single play of the game. That said, I have been searching long and hard (or questing you might say) for a solid adventure game that I could enjoy playing over and over. I have played many and found few that I love. Defenders of the Realm, however, has inspired my adventurous spirit. I wish I was playing it again right now!

Defenders of the Realm does almost everything I want an adventure game to do. The character classes are powerful and diverse. The combat mechanic is simple but satisfying. The sidequests are motivating and useful. Above all, it’s a cooperative game. You and your friends are actually allies working together (like in every adventure story ever) instead of trying to save the realm before the other hero does it.

For those experienced with co-op games (especially Pandemic) there will be some familiar devices. Each turn, your hero takes a number of actions to move around, fight monsters, accomplish side quests, or gather power. At the end of your turn, you draw 2 hero cards (that can help in a variety of ways) and then advance evil. When evil advances, minions are added to at random locations around the board. When there are too many in one location they break out (like a Pandemic virus) to neighboring locations causing more monsters and more problems to appear. Additionally, there are 4 generals of the monstrous hoards that move ever closer to the capitol city and leave more minions in their wake.

Winning the game involves defeating each of these generals. Generals feel sufficiently different from each other and epic in their scale. They make for a very satisfying fight which you can attempt all on your own or team up with any players that want to get in on the action.

There is a light competitive component which amounts to little more than Legolas’ and Gimli’s competition to see who could get the most orc kills in the Lord of the Rings movies. You get victory points for every side quest and general you defeat. The person with the most victory points is awarded “best defender of the realm” or something like that. This amounts to making you the MVP of the game and NOT the winner so it’s a fun incentive to try to be the best without getting in the way of the cooperative spirit of the game.

All in all, it was an amazing first play and I am excited to play again. Despite its high price tag, Defenders of the Realm has been added to my list of “must own” games. Its awesome gameplay, beautiful components (Larry Elmore art is a big plus in my book), and solid co-op mechanics have won me over completely. I suspect it will top my list of adventure games and cooperative games for some time to come.

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I play blue
Master Grader
230 of 244 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Defending the Realm”

If you are looking for a fantasy themed co-op game board game I really don’t know how you are going to realistically do better than Defenders of the Realm. Other reviewers have summarized the game so I don’t know if it helps to rehash known facts. In sum, the game is a nice balanced challenge that takes around an hour and half to play. You select from a variety of fantasy characters and each really does feel distinct and accurate with artwork that gets you into the role. Strategy is essential for victory but dice rolling ensures that the best laid plans might go astray (and I view it as a plus since that reflects life and the fact that great fighters/strategists do sometimes lose). Excellent components and brilliant design ensures immense replayablity as do the many expansions (much of which are free) for the game. Interest in fantasy stories is a must but as long as that is there the appeal is natural and strong (my wife and six year old son LOVE to play it — yes, he needs some guidance on what strategy to employ next but remains engaged and excited though all our turns, plans, and attacks which I think speaks to the dynamic and engrossing nature of the game).

At the end of the day, the few criticisms I’ve seen of the game tend to be fairly illegitimate as they are complaints about the game not being something that it was not trying to be. If you want a fantasy theme, it has it in spades. If you want a co-op, you certainly must do so to win and interaction flows naturally and continuously. If you want a board game, this gives you great variety, flavor and challenges without becoming a full blown role-playing game or a nine-hour affair. If you want the game self-contained you needn’t buy a single more thing for tremendous replay value yet the game is magnificently supported with both free and purchasable expansions that include game scenarios and new characters for both the forces of light and darkness. If you want to play with friends or family, anyone who is interested in fantasy themed games can jump right in and enjoy immediately. It really does perfectly accomplish what it sets out to do.

It is reasonable of course to be concerned about the rather daunting price (and so reading reviews to see if this game is really worth it is essential and I do hope you won’t rely solely on me!). However, as I noted from the beginning, if you are looking for a fantasy themed, co-op board game for use with friends and/or family, I personally don’t know of a better choice and I am very pleased that I made the investment.

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Skilled Recruiter
130 of 139 gamers found this helpful
“Pandemic with luck and death”

One of the first comments that I often hear leveled about this game is that it is pandemic with a luck element added. Since most people are familiar with Pandemic as the cooperative game, I’ll give a comparison of these two games so that you can see if you will like it.

Here is a little rundown of how the two games are similar:
Each player gets a character that has unique special abilities and the characters must conquer four disease/warlords to win the game. They are conquered by collecting enough cards of a certain color. As you collect the cards, the disease/minions start to pop up across the board. If you don’t deal with the disease/minions, there will be an outbreak/overrun and minions will spread faster than expected. Having a too many of these outbreaks/outruns can result in players loosing the game.

Defenders of a Realm adds substantial twists that make feel like a unique game rather than a rebranding of Pandemic. These twists are as follows:
The most noticeable difference is that players must roll dice to remove minions from the board. This means that plans don’t always work out as perfectly as they do in Pandemic. Not all characters have the same number of actions per turn. The number of actions a character gets is dictated by the number of hit points a character has. If a character ends their turn in a location with minions on it, the character loses hit points, which results in a loss of actions in the next turn. A character can take actions to heal and gain hit points back, but if they choose not to and push their luck, a character can die. The player will be able to come back into the game in the following turn with another character, but all of the cards that the previous character had are lost. Another great thing about DotR is the quests. Each person gets personal quest cards that they can choose to fulfill. This gives players something to do during those times when they don’t feel like they are essential to taking down a warlord or clean the board of minions. Lastly, when trying to defeat the warlords, it is almost always a group effort. Instead of handing all of the cards to one player, most of the time multiple players will gather at the warlord and fight it together.

The bottom line: While DotR uses the same “game engine” as Pandemic, the unique features in DotR are substantial enough that it doesn’t feel like a Pandemic rebrand. I highly remmend this gave for anyone who enjoyed Pandemic.

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Critic - Level 2 Beta 1.0 Tester
176 of 192 gamers found this helpful
“For Monarch City!”

While Mrs. Games with Two is away, the boys will play. Time for another adventure in gaming with the boys. Last night we broke out Defenders of the Realm. This is a cooperative game set in a fantasy world (I compare it to Lord of the Rings without the licensing) for two to four players. Each player selects a hero with a special ability and everyone works together to defeat four invading generals. The game plays very much like Forbidden Island and Pandemic. However, DotR plays as if it is a more advanced version of these popular games. If this looks like a game you might be interested in, but the price is a little much for you check out Forbidden Island and/or Pandemic. Then if you like those and want more of a challenge then I would suggest grabbing a copy of Defenders.

Last night we began defending the Realm with 3 heros. A Dwarf, A Eagle Rider, and a Wizard. The realm quickly filled with minions of the four generals. We began collecting hero cards to fight the four generals as tried our best to keep the many minions at bay. At points it felt as if we were going to be overtaken. And then we would be successful at multiple battles in a row. Then the generals began to fall. First the Orcs, followed by the Demons, then Saphhire and finally the Undead. They fell like dominos. It was a victory for the heroes.

Although this adventure was an easy victory, this has not always been the case. We have played this game five times now, and we have three victories to two loses. So I would say this game presents a challenge. There are many expansions to give you more heroes and more generals. Therefore, victory can become more difficult to obtain. These expansions also give you plenty of variety. I do not currently own any of the expansions and right now I don’t have plans to get them. This game just doesn’t hit the table enough to warrant them.

Now you maybe be wondering will this game play well with two? And will my wife like it? The answer is no and yes. I think this game plays best with three or four. With only two heroes the game can be very challenging as you try to defeat for generals. It can be done, but not easily. So if you are looking for a challenge maybe a two player game would be right up your alley. Secondly, my wife does not get into many fantasy themed games. However, she has played this one and enjoyed playing it. She loves cooperative games, so I think that is a huge selling point. It is not one that she is ever eage to play, but she will play it and has a good time doing so. We found that this is a good one to break out on a couples game night. Do use caution if you go this route, as the fantasy theme can be a deteriorate for some. Although, with the right friends, the right combo of heroes, and a little luck you can enjoy a night of Defending the Realm. You can check out more of my reviews at

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
277 of 303 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“The darkness is spreading...”

There are a lot of references with Defenders of the Realm in comparison to Pandemic, and with good reason. Both of the games use similar game mechanics in terms of how to win the game and how to use it, and both have comparable outbreak/overrun rules with the diseases/monsters. But Defenders of the Realm and Pandemic are two completely different games, both in terms of style and cooperation. Throw in the concept of game bosses, and you have something altogether new.

For the benefit of anyone who has never played Pandemic, I will skip references to the game from this point on and refer to Defenders of the Realm exclusively from this point on. First, let’s explore the setting of the game. The game is set in the kingdom surrounding its capital and citadel known as Monarch City. This city is under siege by the forces of darkness, four very specific hordes of monsters each led by a fearsome General. These hordes will stop at nothing in their goal to conquer the land, their ultimate goal being Monarch City itself. The land is doomed; that is, unless a group of heroes (or even just one lone hero) can answer the call and defeat the legions before Monarch City falls.

These heroes are many and varied, so that the player who plays this game with friends always has the option to pick and role and not be forced into one. Each hero has a number of special abilities and benefits, from the Wizard who can teleport around the board and cast fireballs, to the Rogue who can listen to rumors in inns and escape damage from the monster hoards. Each hero is designed to specialize in something and do it well, and the heroes will need to take advantage of these abilities to their fullest extent, because right from the beginning of the game, the situation is desperate.

Along with their special abilities, each hero has a set amount of life points that they receive. These life points serve a dual function; they both serve as an indicator of how close your character is to death (when your character dies, you can simply select a different character to continue the fight), and they also serve as action points. A character’s current health is an indicator of how many actions they can take during a turn. A character can move one space on the board per action point. They can also attack monsters for an action point (this can be done multiple times), initiate an attack against a General for an action point, listen to rumors at an inn, remove a taint crystal from the board, and heal their wounds (2 at a time unless in Monarch City) for an action point. They can also use Hero Cards in place of movement, or to build a Moon Gate to be able to move quicker around the realm. Basically put, the more action/life points you have, the better.

The four Generals command their legions from specific starting points in the game. During the course of the game, Darkness Spreads cards will be drawn from their specific deck. The Darkness Spreads card typically features one to two locations in which minions are ‘spawned’, as well as a location that a General moves to. In order for the General to move, the location featured needs to be directly adjacent to where that General currently is. If this condition is satisfied, the General proceeds one step on their designated path to Monarch City. A general can only move forward on the path, never backwards (there are some special hero and quest cards that can force a General back, but these are the only exceptions). In addition to moving the General, the General also ‘brings’ minions with him, generating a number of them on the space it moves to.

Now would be a good time to go over all the ways that the heroes can win. If the heroes defeat all four generals, they win. Simple, right? Now let’s go over all the ways the heroes can lose. If at any point a General gets to Monarch City, the game is over and the heroes lose. If at any point four or more minions are within the walls of Monarch City, the heroes lose. If more than three units of the same color would spawn in a location, there is an overrun and each adjacent location gets a corresponding enemy unit, as well as a taint crystal being formed in that location (demons are adept at tainting the land, and only require three red units to taint, not more than three). If at any time no more monsters of a color can be placed on the board, the heroes lose. If at any time no more taint crystals can be placed on the board, the heroes lose.

The minions themselves are a set of four specific races: Orcs, Demons, Undead, and Dragonkin. Orcs are represented by the green-colored minion figures, Demons by the red, Undead by the black, and Dragonkin by the blue. This is important, because each race requires a specific roll on the dice to defeat, and it is possible (and highly likely) that you will have races co-mingling together in a single spot. To attack minions, a character needs to be in the same spot as the minions (usually; the ranger can attack from one space away so long as they are in a green-colored location). They then roll special colored dice that share the same colors as the minions. A roll of 3 or better will defeat an orc, a roll of 4 or better will defeat a demon or undead, and a roll of 5 or better will defeat a dragonkin. The player attacking rolls up to three dice, one for each creature in his space, and removes whatever monsters are defeated from that space after the outcome has been determined. If there are monsters left, the player can attack again with another action point, or use an action point to escape the conflict. It’s bad to stay in a spot with monsters, as the hero will take damage from any monsters that are left at the end of their turn.

The Generals won’t go down nearly so easily as their minions. Normal attacks won’t work on them. In order to take down Generals, first all of their cronies must be eliminated, leaving the General alone. Next, a hero in the same location as the General must spend an action point to initiate an attack. From that point, players must expend Hero cards that they picked up each turn in order to have a chance to inflict damage on the General. All Hero cards have a location of a certain color on them: green, blue, black, red, or purple (the color of Special cards). Only cards matching the General’s particular color can be used on them, or purple cards that feature the General’s portrait on the bottom of the card. By playing these cards, the player is effectively buying attacks against the General; the player earns the right to roll as many dice that are featured on the Hero card being played. Once all the Hero cards are played, the player collects all of their dice that they can roll against the general, and rolls with the same rules of success for the minions: 3 or better succeeds against the Orc General, 4 or better succeeds against the Demon or Undead General, and 5 or better succeeds against the Dragon General.

Each General has a health value associated with them and a special ability that comes into play when attacked. For instance, the Orc General has the most health (6) and can parry a successful hit for each one the player rolls when attacking. The Dragon General has the least health by comparison (4), but if you fail to kill her, she restores to full health at the end of combat. The Demon General requires to you to roll a die for each Hero card you use against him; a failed roll means that you cannot use that card. The Undead General prevents any ability to use rerolls against him. In addition to these abilities, the General inflicts a grievous wound against Heroes that fail in their attack, requiring the Hero to take damage and lose Hero cards. It should be noted that a Hero can stay in the same location as a General and not take damage from the General at the end of turn; it’s only when the Hero attacks a General that they are subject to a retaliatory strike. However, should the Hero(es) prevail, a powerful artifact can be gained from the General that will allow the Hero who carries the artifact to eliminate all of the minions of that General’s race on a space without having to roll for success. However, an action point will still need to be spent for the attack.

To gain the Hero cards for attacking the generals, the Heroes simply need to end their turn. Two Hero cards will be drawn automatically. But there is another way to get Hero cards, and that is listening to rumors at inns that are scattered across the board. By spending an action point, a player names a color of card, and draws cards from the Hero deck. Any color of card that was named is kept; the rest go to the discard pile. Purple cards that are drawn in this way can also be kept. In this way, players can attempt to bulk up for that General that is moving just a bit too close to Monarch City and needs to be dealt with immediately. The Rogue has an advantage when listening to rumors, and gets more cards than the average Hero.

A brief note about Special cards: they are some of the most powerful cards in the game. Special cards can be played without having to use an action point, and contain a variety of effects, from removing minions from the board, to allowing rerolls on failed dice. They can be a lifesaver if used at the proper time, but in addition, they are also good for General fights; most special cards can be used against any General in the game.

There are also quests that each Hero receives during the game. These quests unusually involve performing an action or series of actions in order to complete the quest, and contain a reward for doing so. Completing the quests are not crucial to winning the game, but they can be very helpful, and are sometimes worth looking into. The Unicorn quest, if completed, can earn you a unicorn steed that will allow you to move two spaces on the board instead of one for each action point, and also grant you luck in battle.

This game can be played solo, but the real value of the game is in its cooperative gameplay. Each hero can bring an element to the game that can be a real help in a crisis. The Paladin can cover more ground than anyone else (except for the Wizard, who teleports) and is handy in a fight, while the Cleric is adept at removing those pesky taint crystals. But the real place that the cooperative element comes into play is during the General fights. If there is more than one hero in the space with the General when combat starts, the heroes can team up and both use Hero cards to gain attacks. This is useful for when a General is just too close for comfort and one Hero alone doesn’t have what it takes to take the General down by themselves.

My personal take on this game is that is a great game to challenge oneself. The game offers just the right amount of challenge to task the players into paying attention to every facet of the game, without being so tough as to be impossible. There are ways that you can lose the game that might be surprising, but there is no element of the game that is actually unfair. You have ample opportunity to address every problem in the game before it becomes out of control, and often times it comes down to the decisions you make that determine whether you can weather the storm or not. The difficulty of the game will ramp up with the more successful you are in dealing with the threats, so at no time can you think that you are out of the woods until the last General has been laid to rest. And if you succeed in saving the realm, you get a true sense of accomplishment, which is what every gamer loves to feel. You beat a game that was out to get you. You fought the good fight and came out of it smelling like a rose. And that’s what it means to be a Defender of the Realm.

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4 Beta 1.0 Tester
Gamer - Level 4
Professional Grader
114 of 130 gamers found this helpful
“What a great game!”

I bought Defenders of the Realm when it was first released last year under the premise that “I’ll play it with my kids eventually”. What I didn’t know is that the time would come so soon!

My son is 7 and every weekend for the past few months he and I have played Defenders of the Realm. It warms my heart when he chooses a boardgame over a videogame. 🙂

What really sets this game apart is the active community and the incredible support from the designer. Richard Launius releases official variants and downloadable “expansions” faster than anyone in the industry. He has created a game that is different with every play depending on the characters, the enemies, the variants, and the scenarios that are chosen.

But even though this game is incredibly fun and challenging for my son and I, that’s not what keeps me coming back. It’s the high fives we give each other when we roll a 6 at the last second and slay the dragon. It’s cheers and pumping fists when we narrowly avoid catastrophe. And it’s even the pain of defeat we share when our heros fall. There has yet to be a game that I have ever played with my son that I enjoy as much as Defenders of the Realm. I foresee us defending the realm together for a long, long time.

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Gamer - Level 5
54 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“RPG in a Box”

Have just recently over the past year or so gotten into cooperative games. Have always enjoyed fantasy rpgs. This game fits both those like a glove.

Drawbacks: takes a long time to set up, has a big footprint, and takes a long time to take down.

Strengths: very good components, beautiful map, good amount of roles to choice from, fairly easy to learn, very immersive, can played solitaire with ease.

I would play this game every weekend if I had the time.

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172 of 210 gamers found this helpful
“Not quite polished enough”

Overall a fun game that is bogged down by a few issues.

The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played a cooperative game like Pandemic. You band together as a group of different heroes to stop the spread of evil armies. Some of the classes seem a lot more powerful than others so the game could be a bit easier or harder depending upon the array of classes you have at your disposal.

I like the alternate lose conditions this game offers so there’s multiple things you need to contain in order to win the game. And this game will try very hard to make you lose.

The combat system is a nice change from a game like Pandemic where you can carefully plan out turns since the card draw is the only variance.

My negatives:

The pieces are not very well done. If we’re going to get sculpted minis they should be a little higher quality for the MSRP of this game.

The rules can be confusing at times on what you can and can’t do especially when it comes to the various classes.

This game will absolutely punish any newcomers to the genre with the speed at which they can lose. I’d like to see a better scaling of difficulty for those who aren’t hardcore gamers.

So I’m recommend playing the game if you’re a fan of the genre, but the price point is kind of high unless you are really in love with it.

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I play red
The Bronze Heart
228 of 302 gamers found this helpful
“Dragons have arrived”


What’s Black, Red, Green and Blue and is coming to visit the realm again? DRAGONS!!! This will be the fourth time the group of dragons have attack the realm twice they have had their way and once our bravest hero’s defeated them. The realm once again is looking for some hero’s to defend them. (we always draw 2 hero’s at random and keep one) The hero’s who responded tonight were

Frank the Monk
John the Ranger
Mike the Eagle Rider
Debbie the Captain of the Guard

For those who are new to our adventures (the round gamers) our games included some homemade chocolate cookie (Yummmmmmmmy) you have to feed those hero’s.

Attacking the realm today were a mean set of dragons
Brimstone the Red
Onyx the Black
Hemlock the Green
Sapphire the Blue

John was the first player and set out to get the green imps in green areas with his +1 to hit them. Mike and the others moved towards their first quest to get us going. Mike was the first to fulfill his quest and got the Amulet of the Gods (+1 to combat rolls).
By the end of the second turn Brimstone had moved twice and was burning up the realm with his fire breathing ability. In addition Sapphire had moved one step closer to Monarch City.
Our brave hero’s put there heads together and decided that the red menace had to go so Brimstone became the target. Brimstones combat special ability is to reroll any hits you get against him makes him a hard target. Now the attack was on John managed to get one hit, Mike added two more and Frank got two more and we had our best dice roller left to go in Debbie who GASP MISSED. Mike tosses down a special card that allows Debbie to reroll all her dice and she manages to finish off Brimstone. Scratch one Dragon and that helps against the blue imps and Sapphires hit points is reduced by one.
The game was getting tense as the Blue imps seemed to be getting out of hand when Debbie played a Cavalry sweep special card, and Mike’s plus one on the die rolls ended that threat for now. We look at the other threats, we had that down to 3 fires and 4 taint
Now it was time for another dragon to die, but which one? Looking at our attack cards it is close between Onyx and Hemlock but Onyx is closer to Monarch city so we go after him. We waited to all of us were there but that cost us a quest card as Onyx tried to get out of our way and move closer to Monarch city but Frank stopped that with one of his quest cards. Onyx is a tough dragon as his combat ability is he parries and counterstrikes on a one or two. Now onto the battle John rolled first and as is normal with him he rolled three ones or twos and took three hits. Mike got one hit but took a hit. Debbie was the hero again scoring four hits before Frank got the Death blow but took a wound in the action. During the following darkness spreads phase the card flipped told us to reveal a hero card and any hero on that color space took a hit. Mike and John suffered another point of damage. We all breathed a sigh of relief as Debbie played her special card that healed all wounds.
Now the game is getting interesting as Sapphire is one step away from Monarch city and Hemlock and his green horde are getting up there in numbers. We take the time to reduce the green horde some but another darkness spread wounds John and Frank. Then the second darkness spread card moves Sapphire to Monarch city but frank plays his special card that prevents him from moving then plays a second one that allows him to take any card from the box and he returns the prevent the dragons move card back.
The game status has the red minions growing the most but under controls eight taint and four fires. Nothing to worry about right now so let’s go get Hemlock. Hemlocks special combat abilities force us to discard half of one color hero cards. John loses his specials, Frank his (ugh) green, Debbie her black cards and Mike his Blue cards. The attack is on and down goes Hemlock as Mike lands the killing blow. On the down side the next darkness spreads cards have Sapphire move but Frank prevents that again and adds two more taint and a fire. Debbie draws a special that removes some minions from the board and pushes back any one dragon; Monarch City is a little safer.
We plan the attack on Sapphire, as we have two special cards that keep us from drawing any darkness spread cards we head for Sapphire, but with ten taint on the board we plan on getting rid of some of them on the way. Frank takes his turn stops on his way to Sapphire but fails to remove any taint but no darkness spread cards either so he is the first to arrive at Sapphire and kills the only minion with him. Mike is up next and battles a couple blue minions and removes a taint before getting to Sapphire and again we play the card that keeps us from drawing any darkness spread cards. Now it is John’s turn who shoots a couple of green minions out of the way and removes a taint taking us down to eight left on the board. Debbie is the finial player but John must draw his darkness spread cards which result is the addition of four Taint. No NO NO NO it can’t be we lose to taint.

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Gamer - Level 9
Explorer - Level 6
Guardian Angel
106 of 152 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“375 games in 10 months and still playing!”

First of all, I game a LOT. I support several area gaming groups. This is not all I game. That being said Let’s get to the game- It is a cooperative game. The goal of the game is to defeat all 4 of the evil generals who are gradually approaching Monarch City. That is the only way to win. However, there are multiple ways to lose- An enemy general reaches Monarch City, Monarch city is overrun by minions(enemy troops), You need to put minions on the board and have none of that type available, or the lands become to tainted(12 “taint” crystals are placed on the board). There are 8 characters in the base game + 1 mini expansion character who is worth getting(The Barbarian). You randomly select a character who starts at Monarch City. The spaces on the board are linked by pathways showing how to travel from space to space. You have a hand of hero cards (2 to start) and a quest card to attempt. There is a number in the lower left hand of your character card. This is the number of action tokens your character has. This represents how many actions you can take per turn and also how much life(hit points) you have available the average is 5, a few have 6 and one has 4. Movement-For 1 action you can move 1 space. The Hero cards you have can increase your movement up to 4 or let you teleport to various places on the board if you spend them as part of your action. The good news is that you do not have to stop in a space that has enemy minions or a general, but can move on through that space unhindered. Other actions you can take include building Magic gates(these increase the number of places you can teleport too); healing the land(attempting to remove a taint crystal);healing your own wounds; and listening for rumors at an inn(attempting to increase the number of cards you you have of a specific color). You can also fight. Fighting against minions is easy. Simply use one of your action tokens to attack all the enemy minions(max of 3) at a location you’re at. Roll 1 die(of a color matching the minion color) for each minion. Check if you hit, if so remove the minion. If you do not remove them all you can spend another action and attack again. If you end your turn on the same space as a minion you will automatically take 1 wound for each minion there. The minions of each race have a different power so that is one reason to fight them. The other is that whenever a fourth minion would be placed on a location you place one of that type of minion on each adjacent space and place a taint crystal on the space where the fourth minion would have gone. As there are only 12 crystals and it is one way to lose the game(when all 12 are on the board) you will want to thin the minions out throughout the game. Fighting the generals is the point where cooperation is needed the most. The generals ignore your character(s) completely until you attack. You get 1 chance at it. When someone attacks a general any other players that are at that space can join in. This is the other use for the Hero cards. At the bottom of the card is 1 or 2 dice. The regular cards are color coded- red Hero cards can only be used to attack the Red general, etc… Some cards are labelled Special. They grant either a special one use game effect or 1 or 2 dice towards attacking any general. Everybody who is part of the attack commits the number of cards they want to too the attack and the person who launched the attack decides the order of attack. Each general has different abilities that interfere with being attacked. If your group succeeds in scoring the necessary wounds on a general he is removed from the game and the character credited with the kill becomes the slayer of that race(when attacking minions of that color matching the dead general they are automatically killed without having to roll dice. You can also attempt quests throughout the game, if you succeed at the quests you get a reward that can aid in the game, although some are more helpful than others. You end your turn by drawing 2 Hero cards, making sure you have no more than 10 cards in your hand and then drawing a darkness spreads card. The Darkness cards put 1 or 2 minions on each of 2 different locations on the board and may move one of the generals 1 space towards Monarch city.
I enjoy the game a lot obviously, and part of that is that there has been excellent support for the game by the publisher and the creator of the game. To date there are 4 expansions and several scenarios published online.

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Rated 10 Games
Novice Grader
87 of 172 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic game”

Deebders of the realm takes Pandemic to a new level.
Great componets fantastic story eazy to learn and play.
Very good mechanics one of the best family games.
Componets 4/5
Game play 5/5
Story 4/5
The games time is about 1 1/2 hour.
Also the Dragon expansion is great.
Recommended for all ages.

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107 of 221 gamers found this helpful
“A 10 for my wife and I.”

After 25 plays I have to say this is probably the greatest game I’ve ever played. The addition of the Dragon Expansion has made tis game insanely re-playable. The new generals and minions are awesome. The 3 hero expansions add so much. This game has turned into a game system. The designer has provided a tool kit for great thematic adventure and no two games will be alike. Even after only 25 plays we have compiled a long list of “do you remember the time when” experiences. More so than any other game I’ve played.

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111 of 252 gamers found this helpful
“Enjoyed this co-op game”

Pretty easy to learn. Will be fun to play as different characters. Would be nice if pawn game pieces had some more detail, or just some way to differentiate between the different minion types other than color. At first we were thinking character would level up with better skills and equipment as the game went on, similar to Talisman. The game is actually much simpler than that and better for it. Very good overall. Look forward to playing again and to character expansions.

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132 of 301 gamers found this helpful
“Great Co-op game to play with your friends.”

I enjoy playing co-op games. It takes some of the edge off the competition. I like to mix in co-op games with regular games for a good balance.

Defenders is great but there is a learning curve. Play it with someone with experience first.

Best advice: Plan ahead! If one character is spending 3 turns traveling across the map for a quest, another is clearing taint crystals, and a third is picking fights with a specific-colored minion just because he has a bonus, don’t be surprised when one of the Big Baddies waltzes into Monarch City and ends the game.

This is a great game. Enjoy it with friends!

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Rated 10 Games
114 of 266 gamers found this helpful
“A box with magic, sword fighting and fantasy!”

Defenders of the Realm is a fantasy themed board game, supporting 1-4 players. The goal is to defend Monarch city from being invaded by 4 generals and his minions. This game has a great sense of immersion. The quality of components in this game is excellent! Very robust and beautiful at the same time. The game play is fun and exciting, and the pace of the game is very fast, and will leave players at the edge of their seats. Overall, Defenders of the Realm is probably number 1 on my list!

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Went to Gen Con 2012
103 of 264 gamers found this helpful
“An Enjoyable Cooperative Play Game”

First tried this at Gencon. By the time he weekend was over we had played it five more times. The mechanisms that create the urgency and the real risk of the realm being overrun by evil are great. The various skills/attributes of each potential hero make for strong replay potential. This is a must have for a simple night of board games. The setup is a little cumbersome, but not too time consuming.

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Went to Gen Con 2012
87 of 267 gamers found this helpful
“Love it”

This is a nice fast paced game. Great for non gamers. Easy to play, easy to understand and you all play as a team. Most people like it. Except the group where we lost in 2 turns.


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