Review – Worlds Collide (Thunderstone Advance)

WorldsCollide            With a title like Worlds Collide, I thought maybe I’d try to work some sort of Powerman 5000 theme into this review, but no inspiration was coming to me there. Then, because Worlds Collide updates a stack of original Thunderstone cards to the Thunderstone Advance rules/templating, I thought maybe I’d go back and compare my thoughts on some of those cards from my original Thunderstone reviews to what I think about them now … except it turns out I didn’t really start writing reviews until Thornwood Siege (there are some audio reviews from before that, but it turns out that it’s a lot harder to cut and paste your old comments from a podcast than from written review). So that isn’t going to serve as a gimmick for this review. So I guess that leaves me back with my usual dryness.

It’s strange to look back and see that, from its original incarnation, Thunderstone is now five years old (one year younger than Dominion). On the one hand, it hardly feels like it has been half a decade since the deckbuilding genre appeared. On the other hand, it feels hard to remember that there was once a time when deckbuilding games just didn’t exist. I have, in those intervening years, played quite a lot of deckbuilding games. I like card games. I really like deckbuilding games. But with so many of them, any my general penchant for trying to play whatever new things has been brought to the gaming group that day, any given game, no matter how good, can find itself taking a while to get back to the table.

And so, I must admit that my Thunderstone does not get out as much as it used to. I can play Star Realms much more easily, since it serves as a filler between meatier games. And Core Worlds is itself a much more strategic, meatier game. But whenever I pull Thunderstone back out, it reminds me why I liked it so much in the first place (and, conveniently, justifies all those instances of the word “fun” that I have put in my Thunderstone Advance reviews). There’s still something satisfying about assembling your party of heroes to go smash things in the dungeon (and, I think, this is why I have more fun playing Thunderstone than Dominion, even though Dominion is ‘better’ and more streamlined in some sense – Dominion just doesn’t have that ‘hook’ to get me thrilled anymore, after all the plays and years). I know that the Dominion-esque setup takes longer than an Ascension-esque card row, but once you get past the added setup and takedown times, it really does add a little extra strategy that the pure single card-row deckbuilders lack. Ascension is something I play by myself on an iDevice while waiting for Taco Bell to make my burrito. Thunderstone is something I play with friends.

So I suppose that’s the sort of things that Worlds Collide gets me thinking about. You might actually want to hear something about what’s in the box, eh? The big schtick of Worlds Collide, and the source of the title, is that the set is entirely updates of older original Thunderstone cards. It’s also a stand-alone expansion, and should serve as an appropriate alternate entry point to Towers of Ruin (Thunderstone Advance Numenera is also a stand-alone, but because it twists the flavor I don’t think it is as good as a starting point unless you’re specifically looking for the Numenera aspect).

So, what cards did I particularly enjoy seeing show up again?

–          Divine [Wrath of the Elements]: Good old straightforward, Disease-trashing, card-drawing clerics. Can’t go wrong with a classic (note: that isn’t really true, and let’s all be happy that the Elf wizard from the original Thunderstone didn’t show up again; dude was bah-roken).

–          Lorigg [Thornwood Siege]: She’s worth gold, she’s got Light, and she has a decent strength. What else can you ask of a cheap thief? Oh, you can ask for a leveled-up version that’s one of the few cards in the game to mess with your opponents’ hands.

–          Blessed Hammer [Doomgate Legion]: Concerned about your game of Thunderstone getting bogged down my some unkillable brute clogging up the Dungeon Hall? Look no further than this beater. It’s expensive, but with +4 Attack, a relatively low 4 weight, and a victory point, there’s plenty of incentive to buy it and then also use its ability to cycle through the Dungeon deck.

–          Creeping Death [Wrath of the Elements]: I always like a good “capstone” Village card for when you have a giant pile of gold in your hand, and Creeping Death ably serves that role.

–          Feast and Flaming Sword [Thunderstone]: Two of the straight up strongest Village cards there have been, both of these original set wonders provide good gold and good attack and a bonus, all for the low, low cost of 5 gold. Both are amazing early game cards, with Feast being one of the few cards that can turn your otherwise terrible hand of Militia, sorry, Regulars, into an effective fighting force.

–          Town Guard [Thunderstone]: One of the few 3 gold cards you will ever want to buy, Town Guard is good early game for the chance to jump up and grab an 8+ gold card early.

–          Undead * Doom, Undead * Spirit, Undead * Spectral [Thunderstone, Thunderstone, Heart of Doom]: Fire up your clerics for this trio! Conveniently, they include a Level 1, a Level 2, and a Level 3 monster set.

Obviously, I continue to recommend Thunderstone Advance as a great deckbuilding game, especially for anyone interested in the fantasy theme. Worlds Collide is a great pickup, whether as an entry point or an addition to an existing collection.

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