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Fightlings: The Card Game

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The Herbs are a peaceful race but they will not be pushed any more by the Tinkerers. This is their home and it will not become a wasteland while these Herbs still draw breath.

As the old Herb looks over the battlefield, he feels a sense of pride. The young minions before him are risking everything to protect him, their clan and their way of life. He has seen many of them grow up, play together and turn into what you see here today, Warriors. As the old herb finishes that thought, a loud horn can be heard in the distance. The Tinkerers are coming, Fightlings ready!

Each deck contains 17 cards of the same colour. They each consist of one Champion pair, Fightling & Minion Pairs, and Effects.

Each player takes 10 health tokens in their colour

  • Each player sets aside two single, different Minion cards from their deck to be displayed face up
  • Shuffle both decks together along with one random Wild Card
  • Deal the cards face down in a 5×7 grid with the 4 pre-selected Minions face up in the Minion spaces as shown here:

A player’s turn is made up of 3 phases:

  1. Upkeep – During the upkeep phase you turn any cards which are still Face up from a previous turn. If a creature is poisoned, this is the point at which it loses 1 health.
  2. Combat – Combat is an optional phase, and requires the active player to have creatures in their creature zone. It takes place in three distinct phases:
  • Declare Attackers – To start a round of combat, the active player declares which of their creatures will be attacking. Indicate that a creature is attacking by turning the card sideways
  • Declare Blockers – The defending player then declares which creatures will be blocking (if any). Each blocker can only block one attack. Creatures that are already sideways cannot block.
  • Deal Damage –
    • Attacking creatures then deal their attack power as damage.
    • Attackers which are blocked deal their damage to their blocker. Unblocked attackers deal their damage directly to the defending player.
    • Attackers who are blocked only deal damage to the blocker, even if they have more than enough ATK to kill the blocker.

If a creature has its health reduced to zero, it dies and goes to the graveyard.

  1. Reveal – During the revealing phase, you turn 3 cards face up one at a time. Whenever you reveal a creature card which matches another face up card on the board, it is a match.

a)   Creature Matching – When you match a creature, take both cards and place them, one on top of the other, in the creature zone of the player they belong to. All text on the creature card immediately takes effect and any choices about the effect are made by the player who owns the creature (not necessarily the player who matched it).

When you match another player’s creature, you gain VP tokens equal to the creature’s VP value and get to reveal one additional card as part of your reveal phase.

b)   Effect/Wild Cards – If you reveal an effect or wild card, its effect happens immediately, before continuing  with the rest of your reveals. Wild cards have no affiliation, but effect cards are read from the point of view of the player whose colour it is, even if the effect was revealed on another player’s turn.

After you are done revealing, move any face up wild and effect cards to the graveyard, then unravel all unmatched creatures that were revealed. (Take care not to unravel any of the face up Minions from the beginning of the game which have not yet been matched.)

The game ends when any of the following conditions are met:

  • A player loses all their health
  • A player has 15 Victory Point Tokens
  • There are no cards left on the board.

When the game ends because a player has 15 VP tokens, all players tally their VP tokens and VP values on their SURVIVING creatures. The player with the most victory points wins.

Fightlings really is a super quick and easy card game, that has its sight set big. I was given 2 x 17 card intro decks, which is all you need to play the game. When you back the Kickstarter you will get 2 x 71 card decks plus all the counters to play the game. This will allow you to customize decks and allow for more deck building and customization to suit a player play style and add to replay value.

After doing a little research and chatting to the team at Thoughtfish, Fightlings has became a card game kind of by accident. Thoughtfish were in the process of designing an app and they found it was easier to play a physical game to test and tighten the mechanic, rather than go to all the effort of making the app. After the test playing, the play testers actually asked if this was going to be a physical copy of the for them to play or purchase as they really enjoyed the game and Fightlings the card game was born.

When I first received the email from Thoughtfish, I was with a friend who said, nope not playing that. Which kind of shocked me, as this game seemed right up his ally. He later told me that the only reason for this was my ability to count cards. But in all honesty, the games are super quick (under 10 mins) and though memory is an aspect of it there is a lot more going on. You have attacks coming in at you; people getting Victory Points; you find you are trying to keep track over everything that is happening. So that juggling act of, do I unravel his character to get the Victory points but then the other player has an additional person to attack with or do try and find one of more attackers for me. So you find there is so much happening, you are thinking about everything that the card counting doesn’t really come into play.

Fightlings has a beautiful balance to it, and is more intelligent than I at first realised. At first read I was afraid this might be another Magic the Gathering clone with just a weird memory test draw mechanic, but this game really is unique. It has several elements that have had just enough of each sparkled together to make a fun, quick and unique game. The mixture of deck building, battle, effects, memory and the duel end of game condition have been balanced so well that this game was such a pleasant surprised.

That art of Fightlings has a whimsical, tribal, Pokemon style feel to it; with each clan being kind of based on an element. They have given them the expected colors; the character art is centered on the element. Yet they have given the different clans names, so Earth elements are called Herbs, the Fire Elements are called Tinkerers. So there is cohesion and familiarity that helps people connect with the art and game as a whole.

Overall I enjoyed what I played, but what I received was extremely light and limited. It gave me a feel for the game but it did feel like it was missing quite a lot and it made me wish there was more to it. That being said, Thoughtfish were great at telling and showing me where the full version of the game is headed. With the addition of multiple different creatures, minions and effects I feel like Fightlings got those additional aspects that I wanted.  I’m not amazing at deck builder games, I do enjoy being able to customisation of a deck to fit my style. Thoughtfish have actually allowed for quite a bit of customisation with more to come as the game grows.

If you like light, quick and challenging deck builders, I would definitely give this game a look. It has a fun whimsical art styling with a dual end game condition that will force you out think and balance your deck perfectly, then check out Fightlings Kickstarter here

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Derek 'Dez' Maggs

Board Game & Tech Reviewer / Podcast Host of Rapid Reviews on the Boomer Radio Network / Assistant Producer of Creaytors Series on YouTube / Coffee & Hug Addict

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