Dead Reckoning is the newest Kickstarter from AEG, and the newest card crafting game from John D Clair. And wow did I enjoy playing it.
I had the chance to give it a shot while visiting a close friend and content creator, Jesse Anderson, otherwise known as Quackalope. He received a prototype which he'll be covering, and which apparently I'm now in that video, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been excited to give this one a shot, I haven't yet tried Mystic Vale, Edge of Darkness or even Custom Heroes, any of the prior card crafting games out there. But Dead Reckoning is pirates! I love pirates. And so I drove down to give the game a shot, and I wasn't disappointed.
Card crafting, for the uninitiated, is essentially deck building. But instead of your deck growing or shrinking, the cards in your deck change. You add sleeves to your cards that affect their stats, and give you even greater control than deck building through your ability to ensure certain things show up together. Behind the core mechanic, lies a standard pirating adventure. Move your ship around the board, buy upgrades in the form of cards or ship upgrades, and occasionally if push comes to shove...attack your fellow pirates.
But it works really well. I played it 2 player, which I have to imagine is the weakest player count....and yet it worked. And the game has area control as a central mechanic...and it still worked at 2 players. Jesse and I navigated around the islands, taking drastically different strategies. His was pushing end game, trying to rack up bonus points quickly and rush for the end. Whereas I was building a big bad evil destructive deck, to wrestle control of his territories and hopefully sink his ship.
Coming in at just over an hour for a 2 player experience, Jesse managed to push the end game faster than I anticipated, locking in enough points that while I was fiercer and more scary...I didn't think I was going to win. But I used that big bad deck of mine to rush back to port, along the way taking control of one his islands, sweeping a handful of points off to the side, and then attacking him in what was our first battle of the entire game. I won the battle even when stacking up against his home defense...but didn't sink his ship. And thus the game came down to a few points, had even that last battle wound up differently, I would have won. Which I love in games. I love it when different strategies show themselves as viable. I love it when a game comes down to the wire. And I love it when we played a pirate game with lots of push and pull...and still managed to sort of avoid actual conflict the whole game. It screams to me that this game has legs. This game has the potential to be fun over a lot of different plays, at different player counts and with different strategies.
I highly recommend giving Dead Reckoning a look, it's on Kickstarter and I can't wait to have this game on my shelf.