Now that the campaign is live, I am glad I pointed out Radlands last week. Today I can finally say why!
I was hoping that the Roxley site’s timer was accurate, as it counted down to 10 am Tuesday 26th AEST – almost a full day early! So all I could stick with was a “Hey, this is interesting” piece.
Today, I can tell you why I have backed Radlands now that I have seen how Radlands plays.
How close were you about gameplay?
Spiritually I was sort of there, but the details are very different than I was expecting. And these differences are all for the better!
The primary resource of Radlands is indeed Water. It’s used to pay for almost everything. Almost everything else is from shared decks, so there aren’t boosters to worry about. If an expansion comes out, only one person needs to add those cards to the deck. This also means players have all the same information on potential cards. No more memorising thousands of cards!
You don’t pick factions in Radlands as you do in Netrunner or Magic the Gathering though. Instead, a large number of Camps that are shuffled and a player draws 6, keeps three. Each Camp has a powerful ability, and the goal of the game is to destroy your opponents three camps. So as you wear down your opponent, you are also depriving their abilities.
Each player starts with a water tank, a Raider event to go damage your opponents camp, their three camps. Their camps may let them start with a hand of cards. then player one draws and the game begins!
How do you defeat a Camp?
The primary way seems to be via Events. When you put an event in play, they go alongside your setup and advance at the start of your turn. This helps Radlands to have little ‘hidden’ gotchas – players can see what is coming and prepare for it.
The other playable type of card is People. These are potent cards with various abilities that can be used in different ways. Some are healers, some allow you to manipulate the board state, others are damage dealers.
Both Events and People are also a resource of sorts. Radlands has a mechanic where you can discard a card from your hand for an instant bonus. However, as each card is powerful in its own right, this makes for a lot of tough decisions!
Both players have the same deck? How does that work?
Deckbuilder veterans may have been expecting something very different. We are used to buying multiple decks and tweaking them for hidden combos that we can pull out and surprise our opponent with.
Radlands follows the same concept, except players share a draw deck. The deck itself is prebuilt with a mixture of People and Events used in the game. The only real difference is both players draw from and discard to communal decks.
This means that you can’t quite work out how likely you are to draw a card for the card counters out there. You might know how many of a type of card is in the deck, but your opponent can get it on their turn.
Doesn’t that make luck a massive factor?
It definitely makes luck a factor, but I wouldn’t say a massive one. Each card in Radlands is ridiculously powered, and both sides are under the same constraints. Dealing with a single deck of powers makes balancing a much simpler exercise than traditional deck builders.
The biggest mental hurdle I think is even though the designer has serious Magic the Gathering roots, Radlands isn’t a deck builder – it just plays like one.
Who would you recommend plays Radlands?
Anyone looking for a two-player competitive card game should have a look at Radlands. Suppose you have been interested in games like Magic the Gathering but put off by all the expansions and multiple rulesets. In that case, Radlands is the perfect introduction for you.
That said, as streamlined as the play seems to be, I think new players will need to put aside a couple of starting games to learn the rules. There are a lot of exceptions to basic rules. Take ‘Ready’ as an example.
If your card is upright and hasn’t been used, it’s probably Ready to use. Damaged cards are turned horizontally, and need to be healed to be Ready. Except for Camps – Camps are always Ready, even if they are damaged, just not destroyed.
On its own, this sequence isn’t too hard to follow. When almost all of the actions and rules have similar exceptions, you will need a couple of slow games to get the sequence down pay.
That sounds like a nightmare!
It sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Many people say that, but because Radlands has ‘same same’ for everyone, both players can help each other with the timings and quirks.
If I pull up Magic as an example, it’s a terrible feeling when you learn the game and learn 10 rules that you can never use. But you need to know all these rules in case someone else can do that.
In Radlands, you only have to worry if someone draws a particular card, not if there is one in their deck. This makes learning much more comfortable to wrap your brain around.
Are you backing Radlands?
I am. The question is if I do the core pledge or the upgrade with the playmats. The playmats are nice, but I don’t see them being necessary overall. But they could make things easier for teaching?
Oh, the decisions I have to make!
But either way, yes I am backing this. There are a few people I can see myself playing Radlands with, and I think I will have a great time playing.
One thing that does help is this campaign is in Canadian dollars, which is usually close to 1:1 with the Australian dollar. So for us here down under, that makes for a pretty solid budgeting calc!
For the US backers that have to work out how much that will cost them – sorry, but the rest of the world does that most of the time!
So check out the Radlands Kickstarter and check it out for yourself. I think most gamers, especially those looking for good two-player competitive games, will have a good time here.
Until next time,