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 Sorcerer's Arena Epic Alliances

Aladdin has fallen in with Maleficent and Dr. Facilier to team up against Ariel, Gaston, and Demona. It might sound like a fan-fiction novel, but in reality it’s a head-to-head board game of Disney showdowns.

Published by The Op and designed for 2-4 players, Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances is a game of arena combat and unexpected team-ups.

Gameplay

The board is a series of connected hexagonal spaces, with three special victory point spaces in the center, and team starting spaces at either end. At the start of the game, players take turns drafting a team of three characters. You then take the deck for each character on your team and shuffle them together to form your personal draw deck. You then draw up to your hand size, which is determined by the characters on your team. Finally, you place your characters in the starting spaces at your end of the board, and secretly choose the order you want your characters to go in for each round. Players then reveal this order and the person who chose to start with the character with the lowest initiative number will take his turn first, and players will then alternate.

On your turn, you may only use the character whose turn it currently is. You start by lowering the counters on any status effects that character currently has. If there are no more counters then the status goes away. There are both helpful and harmful statuses in the game such as tough, which reduces any damage dealt to that character by one, or immobilized, which prevents a character from moving across the board on his turn.

Next, you check if your active character is on a victory point space: if so, you take one victory point token. If your character was previously knocked out, he now returns to the board with full health. You then draw one card from your deck.

Your character can then move, attack, and use his unique special skills. He can perform these three actions in any order. Each character has a base attack and movement, and you may discard any card in your hand to boost either by one. Instead of using these base actions, however, you can also play one of your cards. Each card belongs to a specific character and can only be played for that character. The card also says whether it can be played during a movement or an attack phase. After playing the card, you then follow the text on it. When your turn ends, you must discard down to your max hand limit, and then it becomes the next character’s turn.

Each card you play also has one of four resource symbols on it. When choosing your characters, you know the distribution of resource symbols across all their cards and also which resources they need in order to level up. When you have the required resource symbols in your discard pile, you may remove them from the game to level up a character who then gains an upgraded ability.

When you manage to take a character down to zero health, he is knocked out and you earn the number of victory points shown on his card.

The game ends once a player has twenty victory points or needs to draw a card and has no more cards in his deck. Then, after all characters have taken an equal number of turns, the player with the most victory points wins the game.

There is also a team mode for four players, in which you play in teams of two and each player controls two characters.

Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances Components

Review

Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances is an enjoyable, light take on the tactical combat board game genre, making it casual, accessible, and easy to learn. This game would work for families or adult groups and has a theme that is likely to appeal to both.

It is fun to try out the different combinations of characters and see how they interact with each other or figure out which ones are best for leveling each other up. Each one does feel like it has its own unique strengths and playstyle, which makes it satisfying to try them in different combinations, and the core game includes a nice number of them to play around with.

Thematically, the game works quite well, too, as it’s just fun to see many well-known characters from such different stories coming together in one place. A good job was also done in making sure the characters are from a very broad range of source materials.

There are a lot of smart choices made in the design of the game. Even if you don’t have a card for a specific character on his turn, the base movement and attack actions are still worth taking, while the ability to discard a card to make them stronger is also a useful option.

Every card can be valuable, so how you choose to play them, and when, offers a lot of interesting choices. Once you take into account the leveling-up system, that’s just another level to consider when playing cards and considering what resource each one will add to your discard pile.

The game looks quite nice, with bright and colorful artwork, and great character pieces. We did find the health dials that you attach to the characters a little finicky to play with, but it was nice not to have to deal with hit point tokens. We just wish they’d been easier to turn, and if they’re not on exactly right you can accidentally knock them off while moving your characters.

There is also an absolutely fantastic rulebook. It is divided into multiple chapters, with each one adding more complexity to the game. You are encouraged to play the game after each chapter, so you don’t need to learn everything right away in order to start playing. This also makes it easier to adapt the game to your audience and their experience level or even just personal preference. Feel that the leveling makes the game too complicated? You can just play the rules up through chapter three of the rules.

For fans of Disney, Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances is a lot of fun, with expansions already available to add even more characters and combinations to play around with.

Pros: Excellent rulebook and ability to adjust the complexity of the rules, fun theme, it’s enjoyable to try out different character combinations

Cons: Health dials are a little frustrating, there are a lot of rules in the full game

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.