Monday, August 17, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Preview of Thalara: The Last Artifacts by Wredespiel

Components and rules subject to change.
Disclaimer Support me on Patreon!
Title: Thalara: The Last Artifacts
Designed by: Alexander Wrede
Publisher: Wredespiel
Year Published: 2020
Kickstarter Price: $15-$24
2-4p | 20-30 min | 10+

I haven't been taking on many Kickstarter previews lately, but when I head about Thalara: The Last Artifact, I was intrigued. I'm not usually a huge fan of two-player dueling style games, but I do enjoy some.  Thalara's fast gameplay and interesting hand-building mechanic caught my attention.  And since we're in the middle of a pandemic, having a two-player game that I could play with my family seemed like a great choice.  So let's read on and see if this met my expectations or left me feeling disappointed.

In Thalara: The Last Artifacts you take on the role of a wizard/sorcerer/magician using the last few remnants of powerful magical energies to battle over the remaining magical artifacts.  Each player has a deck of remnant energy that can only be used once per game, however as you gain artifact energy the artifacts become permanent parts of your hand and return after each round.  The game continues until one player has a full hand of artifacts, or has run out of remnants to use.

Thalara: The Last Artifacts is available on Kickstarter right now!

Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • Fast Play
  • Simple Rules
  • Great Artwok
  • Balanced, but unique assymetric character powers
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • I didn't get to play the 3-4 player version, but it sounds interesting.
  • Several advanced characters add more complex gameplay.
  • Play gets faster and more intense as players get to know their characters and opponents' playstyle.
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • While the 3-4 player game seems interesting, I suspect it would be more chaotic and less tactical.
  • Some characters feel unbalanced until you understand how to use their abilities effectively.
Final Thoughts:
I have to say that I really enjoyed Thalara: The Last Artifacts.  The 20-30 minute gametime is pretty accurate - our first games took about 40 minutes, but we got a lot faster as we got more comfortable with the game.  The gameplay is very simple, essentially using numerical power cards (remnants) from your personal deck, which is identical to your opponent's deck except for the card backs, to compete over three other cards.  If you are familiar with games like Smash Up or Ghosts Love Candy, you're familiar with this mechanic.  It's nothing special in itself, but brings about some interesting interactions and decisions.

Each round you create a hand of 7 energy cards, made up from a combination of Remnants and Artifacts.  You start with the same 20 Remnants as your opponents and can choose which of those to use each round, but as you gain permanent Artifacts your hand becomes more defined and you'll have fewer Remnant energy cards to add to it.  The Remnant energy is generally more powerful (with strength ranging from 1-5) whereas the Artifacts are less powerful (strengths from 0-3), but worth points at the end of the game (1-3 points).  This creates and interesting dynamic of deciding when to splurge with your high-energy Remnant cards, even though that might mean winning a lower-energy Artifact.  

The tug-of-war aspect as you battle over the available Artifacts is interesting enough, but it's the character abilities that really make the game shine.  Each character in the game has a set of four spells that they can use each round.  In order to use a spell you must first play an energy card to a conflict, then you can add a spell to a conflict that has the required types of energy in it.  There are five types of energy (denoted by colors and iconography) and spells require one to three specific types of energy to be used in a conflict to cast a spell.  It's the spells that elevate the game beyond just a bluffing/deduction game of combat.  Each of the characters' spells are very unique, yet thematic for each character.  

Myrja, the Fire Amazon, has a collection of spells that destroy energy.  Canto, the Bansinger, has spells that might be considered "artistic" or that have a lot of flare.  Kandhran, the Leader of Albren, casts spells that are pure brute strength, and Accaina, the Time Traveler, has spells that manipulate your hand and the battlefield.  Each of these, as well as the other characters in the game, have very unique playstyles.  They take some time to learn and get comfortable with, but they all seem balanced, interesting, and unique.

I really enjoyed playing Thalara: The Last Artifacts, and feel like it's relatively small form factor, fast play time, and simple gameplay that still offers good depth, make it a winner - a Bloom game for sure!  It'll be a great two-player filler, and could even be fun with three or four players, though that seems like it's be more chaotic.  You can find Thalara: The Last Artifacts on Kickstarter right now for $15-$24 (depending on if you want the full set for four-players or just the two-player set).  For that price, I think this would be a great addition to anyone's collection, especially if you do like two-player games that really feel like a battle of wits against your opponents.  

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:
Bloom!  This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 


Did you like this review?  Show your support: Support me on Patreon! Also, click the heart at Board Game Links , like GJJ Games on Facebook , or follow on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

No comments:

Post a Comment