I really wanted to like Thunderstone Quest. Like really really. I set up the game to play with Dan, learned the rules, and the game was absolutely gorgeous. Then my wife went into labor the next morning and the game got packed up, put away, and finally played around 6-7 weeks later (although not with Dan this time around).
It's fun...but it's not staying in my collection. It continues to suffer from that problem that many games have, an influx of amazing games and limited time to play them. The game looks amazing, each card is a work of art, the theme and style drag me in....but then I get lost (and not in a good way) in the gameplay. The nature of the game feels like it doesn't really allow for amazing turns that come together....each turn is either a turn where you failed to achieve your goals, or you succeeded. It felt very binary, pass or fail. Contrast that with games like Dominion, Star Realms, The Quest for El Dorado and more, where you have turns that range the full spectrum from "did a little", "did a decent amount", all the way to "holy crap that combo!". To this day I still remember a game of Trains where a friend of mine triggered an infinite turn, or at least until his deck ran out because every single card was in play. I remember that. I don't remember that I managed to inflict 6 damage on some creature, probably a goblin or something, and then I may or may not have gotten a reward from the location or something.
Now don't get me wrong....you can make every game sound blah if you're not into it. My favorite game is Blood Rage, but I can easily condense that into "pass cards, move a bunch of guys, repeat 2 more times an then whoever went Loki wins". I don't feel that way at alllll. But the point is you can make anything you don't like sound stupid. What I want from a deck builder is the ability to feel clever. What's the point in putting together your own creation as a key element of the game, if not for the end goal of feeling like your creation was "the best". The most streamlined, the most powerful, the best combos, etc. Give me the opportunity to feel like I built an engine that matters. I don't even care if I win. I love when I'm playing Dominion and laying out my 13 card turns, and then my wife plays another 3 golds and takes the last province. We both did something. Sure, she won...but look how many cards I played!
At the end of the day Thunderstone Quest wasn't for me....it's beautiful and I want to like it...but I have plenty of other games to keep me busy. Maybe when they come out with iteration 4, Thunderstone Guildmasters*, I'll try again.