This past week we played Guards of Atlantis, a MOBA style tabletop game. Now I love Rum & Bones the only other MOBA style game I've played, and I've therefore been looking forward to Guards of Atlantis especially when combined with some solid reviews. And thankfully....it did not disappoint.
For those that don't know, MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, and while that can technically be describing any online game, the style it actually refers to are those of DOTA, League of Legends and the like. In these games, you have a team of heroes who are trying to slowly get your team (along with all the game controlled minions) to the other team's end zone. These games tend to have a cycle of slowly leveling up your heroes until eventually you're able to tilt the tides of battle in your favor, pushing your way in towards the win.
Based on only one play so far, I think I like Rum & Bones better....but it's a hard call. Where Guards shines well and away over Rum & Bones, is the lack of luck (not that I don't enjoy the endless dice chucking in R&B, but a more deterministic approach is refreshing). Players select cards each round to play, and then carry out the actions of those cards. You can make mistakes, get outplayed, or alternatively actually accomplish your goals and deliver a good wallop to someone on the other team. After each round of 4 selected actions, minions attack, and then you upgrade your character assuming you've earned the coins to do so. Lather rinse repeat until your team has upgraded to the point of being able to dish out massive amounts of punishment and eventually push the lane all the way to the enemy.
Where Rum & Bones shines, at least so far, is that every time I have played Rum & Bones, regardless of the lead one team had, both teams always felt in the game with a chance of winning. Whereas in Guards of Atlantis, our one game so far resulted in one team falling behind mid game, and then playing another 45 minutes where it didn't really feel like they could bring it home again. Now granted, that's only one play, which I would immediately dismiss, except apparently this is a known problem in the game. The good news though, is that a second edition with new characters is on its way, and with it some tweaked rules, including rules that fix this, that can be incorporated into the game now (and will be when we play again this Thursday night).
At the end of the day, I'm only 1 play in, but so far Guards is on its way to joining my most beloved games. What I love about both Guards and Rum & Bones, is the sheer amount of fun they bring to the table. Sure, I enjoy a number crunching game of Terraforming Mars as much as the next guy, but sometimes it's just fun to stomp on people, get more powerful, and stomp again.