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Core Worlds

Posted by admin On June - 2 - 2012

Details
Players: 2-5 (probably best with 3)
Actual Length: 60 to 90 minutes
Age: 10+

We’ve recently had the chance to play Core Worlds here on BOP and we’re now ready to give you the low down on this deck-building game of intergalactic conquest!

Like most deck building games, you can expect cards with a small amount of text you’ll need to read and become familiar with. And of course based off your choices throughout the course of the game, developing a deck of cards that outwits your opponents is way to win; very much like Dominion, Ascension, Race for the Galaxy, Magic: The Gathering and so on.

You start with a personal game matte that keeps track of your actions and energy level. Over the course of ten rounds your action level increases as well as your energy (hopefully!) which allows for bigger and better things to do. Each player starts as a faction with a base deck of mostly identical cards, as well as a few slightly different starting cards with varied special abilities. Some factions special starting cards are arguably more powerful than others but I don’t necessarily think it’s to the point of a balance issue.

The symbols on the cards are easy enough to decipher and are important to pay attention to throughout the game.

A central part of the game is card drafting from the “Central Zone” of cards that come out over the progression of the game. The cards that you draft are composed of units, worlds, and tactics. Units being your military and are the basis for “invading” i.e. drafting additional cards. Worlds generate your energy allotment at the beginning of each round which can be thought of as ‘currency’ and is absolutely imperative for deploying units, playing tactics, and drafting awesome cards. Tactics are action cards that ironically don’t necessarily always cost an action to play, but give bonuses during invasions amongst other things.

A simple explanation of how Core Worlds plays is at the beginning of each round you draw cards, mark your appropriate number of actions based on the round, and calculate your current energy generation from your worlds (also adding any bonuses from cards and such). You take turns playing actions which include :
- Drafting a new unit card or tactic card from the central pool paying the appropriate energy cost and placing your newly recruited card into your discard pile for use later on.
- Deploying as many units as you want from you current hand into your Warzone around your player matte, paying the appropriate energy cost and # of actions for each unit.
- Using those deployed units and/or any tactics cards from your hand to invade Worlds (also paying any appropriate energy costs on your tactics cards). All units and tactics used in invasion are discarded (unless you have a card that allows you to retain any of these units).
- “As an action” cards are cards you can play and then immediately must discard but allow for some cool things. (i.e. ‘Advanced Drones’ allows you to draft 1 card from the central zone at a cost of -4 energy)

In most deck building games, a good idea is to try and thin out your deck by eliminating weaker cards allowing for high reuse of your stronger cards. This can be done after conquering a world, allowing you to tuck one of your played cards, such as a weak starting military unit,  underneath it.

During the first nine rounds there is a nice plethora of cards that come out. As the game progresses worlds get harder to conquer and tactics and units get more difficult to draft. Of course the benefits of those cards also get greater. In the last round Prestige cards appear and their only function is to add victory points to your final tally.

Things I liked:
- I thought the difficulty of acquiring cards throughout the progression of the game was challenging enough but not impossible.
- The abilities on the cards were pretty cool.
- Re-playability will be very high if expansions are added, which in Core Worlds case, will be very easy to add expansions to. Even in the base set there is quite a bit of re-playability, especially if your playing with only 2-3 people, which means a great deal of the cards you won’t even see.
- Theme fits

Thing I didn’t like:
- The game seems to end relatively abruptly with little chances to use your really cool cards that you acquired towards the end of the game.  Some may see this as positive because it can make decisions at end game harder, but for me, I really want to play with my new cool card at least a few times!

Final Thoughts
How does it compare to other deck building games? Race for the Galaxy for me was a bit abstract for my taste and after many plays I just couldn’t get into it. Additionally I felt the iconography was much too complex which really turned me off after playing it 3 or 4 times and still finding myself struggling over what the different symbols were (although Bopper Scott Linde thought differently, read his review!) Thunderstone is another deck building game that I felt “meh” about, although I really can’t tell you why. Eminent Domain, while kind of fun for awhile, turned out to be sort of light and forgettable (read review). Dominion is a gateway game that many hardcore gamers are “sooo over,” but I still play on a regular basis. It’s an easy game to teach newer gamers and I continue to enjoy it quite regularly with all levels of gamers.

So where does Core Worlds fall? Somewhere in between Dominion and Eminent Domain for me. I don’t like it nearly as much as Dominion but I don’t think it’s forgettable like Eminent Domain.

I’m not sure if we’ll be adding Core Worlds to the permanent BOP collection, but I wouldn’t mind playing it with other gamers who own it whenever the opportunity arises.

Final-Final Thoughts

Overall: 6.5

medium-hard not too hard to learn, more difficult to master

Quality
Fun
Replayability