Full of crafty tactics and abilities, The Spoils introduces new players to its unique approach to deck building with a ready-to-play boxed set.
|The Spoils||Arcane Tinmen||Card Game|
In The Box
The so-called “Basic Box of Awesomeness” is indeed a great way to get into The Spoils. For a game that fell off the public radar at one point and may be new even for current fans of deck-building games, The Spoils is looking healthy. Good production values stand out in both the game’s packaging and the cards themselves. Inside a cardboard box that doubles as long term storage, you’ll find each of the game’s five “trades” organized into 40-card decks. You’ll also get a small set of 10 random foil cards with both characters and resources, and of course some instructions. The foils can be mixed in immediately or saved for later as you get more familiar with the game and start constructing your own deck.
Getting started is as simple as choosing one of the five decks and jumping into play with an opponent. A more visual tutorial included with the game would be nice, but the strong community following for The Spoils online will ensure you get almost any question answered through a forum or video tutorial. Decks are well balanced as delivered, but some pairings might favor beginners more than others. We saw this approach put to good use recently in Blue Moon Legends, which recommended starting with two specific decks and building up from there. Once you’ve mastered the basic mechanics of The Spoils you can remix your deck as a different collection of 40 cards, paying attention to specific thresholds that are required to bring certain cards into play.
How It Plays
The inevitable comparison to Magic aside, The Spoils is a damn good use of your time and game budget. Really, there’s no need to dwell on the similarities or differences between this and other games, since it can stand on its own merits. What it gets right, it gets really right. The biggest question on players’ minds at this point may be how the future will look for a game that went out of print at one time and is now on its second incarnation. Our advice: Forget gazing into a crystal ball and jump in. The New Player Pack gives you a chance to catch up on what established players already know to be a high quality production. Real-time actions make this more complex than most games in the category, making The Spoils something you graduate to, rather than deck-building for beginners.
A game of The Spoils plays out based on Faction Cards that show each side’s influence (25 in the case of the Tournament Faction) and a set of options available to you on each turn. A huge difference you’ll notice during games is that both players can throw down cards without worrying much about turn order. There is a definite process for passing a turn to an opponent, but the real-time elements of The Spoils are great for keeping attention 100% focused on the action. The flow of play includes drawing cards or playing resources, both of which strengthen your hand and allow you to play cards to the table. The cards you play as characters have offense and defense ratings, plus a speed rating. The difference in speed makes each battle in The Spoils feel a bit like the time-based battles of classic RPG video games. A strong but slow character may find itself losing out to a pack of faster characters, or just one fast character juiced up with items and effects.
The five trades included with this set offer a wide range of options that will match almost any preferred style of play. From aggressive warlords to shifty rogues and variations along the fight/flee spectrum, The Spoils is a game with lots of personality. The flavor text and writing is smart, snarky, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. If you’ve enjoyed other deck-building games you’ll absolutely take a liking to this one, and more importantly you’ll find some unique elements that aren’t just retreads or simplified versions of more mass market products. Best of all, if what you find in the New Player Pack excites you, there’s much more to The Spoils, and hopefully more to come.
Playing the core decks included here will give you a good feel for the game, which we found easy enough to learn once we grasped the back-and-forth exchanges that can crop up frequently. You’re going to either love or hate the real time aspects of this game, but there’s no denying it makes every play session much more social.
You’re always more involved, and never actually waiting for your turn to begin. It’s easy to get back at an opponent after you hand off, and I really liked the trades and the wording on some of the cards. It’s a nice twist on the traditional trading card game.
| Available through major US Hobby Game Distributors, or ask your local retailer to order a copy. Visit thespoils.com for more information. |