Battle For Sularia, An In-Depth Review

8.5 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 8/10
Player Interaction: 8/10
Visual Design: 8/10

Amazing artwork. | A deep and rewarding strategic card game system.

First few games drag on a little. | Card template takes up too much room.

Physical Tabletop.

$24.99 for physical game on developer's website.

December 1,2015

English

Battle For Sularia is a turn-based card game for two or more players. It is set within the story of Sularia, depicting how the megacorps of that world continue to battle for the remnants of a once-proud jewel of a planet. The game was Kickstarted back in July 2015 after raising just under $19,000 for a $15,000 campaign. It shipped in late January and is now available for general purchase via the creator’s web store.

In the far future, corporations will one day have more power and influence than governments, fighting it out for supremacy over resources and people, with the victors obtaining world domination and a power we could only ever dream of.

Battle For Sularia takes us beyond the megacities created by the megacorps and instead shows us the ramifications of such battles — how the fight for ultimate profit and gain fractures a planet so badly that it becomes a shadow of its former glory, limping in the solar system as a barren and gray planet almost incapable of sustaining life.

Is there a market for Battle For Sularia outside of Kickstarter? Read on to find out…

Box-art

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Battle for Sularia was finally shipped in January of 2016. It has many new design concepts that set it apart from any other card gaming system.

GAMEPLAY

One of the core reasons I personally backed Battle For Sularia is because of the theme and the artwork. I’m a huge sucker for sci-fi and the many ways designers invent the future and other worlds in this genre. There are no limits as to where your mind can take you when you create new worlds. Battle For Sularia was created with a rich backstory that sounds like it could be a mirror of our Earth in a few hundred years.

The gameplay also grabbed my interest when I read through the Kickstarter campaign. It borrows a few mechanics and ideas from other games, yet lays them out in a fashion that is all its own. The game feels unique in this respect and playing it feels like nothing else I’ve played before.

The box comes with the first two factions from the story of Sularia: Jotune and Synthien. The Jotune are a more militia-style that excels in flight and teamwork. The Synthien are a more control-based deck that utilizes the shadows to hide their strength and true numbers. Both factions come with 90 cards each in the box, but a deck will contain 60 cards total. This gives room for further deckbuilding outside of the starter decks that the rule book suggests you use for your first few times playing the game.

After-some-time

After a number of turns, each player’s set-up will look roughly the same. It always seems daunting to make the first attack as there is so much at stake if you lose!

There are a number of zones on the board designated for specific card types. Each zone plays a specific role in your overall strategy and gameplay, with every card being meaningful to the overall outcome of the game. There are two primary resources you’ll need to manage in each of your turns. Influence is used to play Sites, which are like locations, and Sularium, which is used to pay for Combatants (your units). A third resource cost, Threshold, is used through your Influence and is a cost that must be met when playing Tactics and Condition cards.

This is a turn-based game, with players taking their own turns going through the game’s phases to perform specific actions. Your first objective is to obtain enough Influence to begin playing Sites. To gain Influence you play one card from your hand face-down in the Influence zone each turn. You may use any card to fulfill this role, but the most beneficial ones to use are the Tactics and Condition cards as you can still trigger them from the Influence zone at a later time. I love this “resource card becomes a trap card” mechanic — it’s one of my favorite things about the game.

Your Sites provide most of your Sularium generation and also act as barriers between your enemy and a direct attack against you. Each turn you can play as many Sites and Combatants as your resources allow. However, you have to be careful with the amount of Influence you spend in a turn as it isn’t replenished until your following turn. The reason for this is that in order to play your Tactics and Condition cards you will also be using your Influence pool.

Using-Influence-to-activate-Tactics

Using your face-down Tactic cards will use your Influence pool, reducing the resources available for the opponent’s turn. Balancing your resources and activating cards makes this game far more strategic than it first appears.

The game takes a while to build up. It takes some time to build up your rows of Sites and to be able to have enough Combatants to really start putting the hurt on your opponent. The pacing can often feel slow and the thinking times about moves can drag on due to the amount of number crunching you’ll have to do each turn to remember just how much of each resource you have at any given time (if you’re not using trackers of some kind). It’s a very “mathy” game, so be aware of that if you struggle with lots of numbers.

I touched on the artwork earlier and it is truly something to behold, though much of that is wasted due to the small space given to the actual art. The template takes up far too much room, as does much of the effect and flavor text. Even vanilla cards with no effect and only flavor text have the same template as those with longer effects.

Sure, the uniformity is great, but I would have loved to see more of the fantastic artwork on the cards. I might be spoiled by games like Cardfight!! Vanguard which showcases the art in full, as now I find myself squinting at these tiny art boxes in games like this one (and Magic: The Gathering ) and wish they’d really open up the templates more to show off the amazing art.

Basic-Jotune-deck

When you build a custom deck from the 90 cards that are available in the box, you will need to pay attention to the construction points value on each card. You cannot go above 90 points when building your deck of at least 60 cards.

EXTENDING THE EXPERIENCE…

Battle For Sularia comes with just two factions in the standard retail box. These factions tell a small part of Sularia’s story and it is through the decks that you enact this story. The basic 60-card decks will get you familiarized with the game’s rules and gameplay fairly quickly. The remaining 30 cards from each faction can then be used for deckbuilding purposes once you’re comfortable with the gameplay.

There are only two rules you must obey when deckbuilding. Your deck must contain no less than 60 cards and you cannot exceed more than 90 points in construction value when building the deck. Construction points are printed on each card between the attack and defense values. Most cards cost one or two points, but there are a few stronger cards that cost more.

There are other rules to obey when playing the game that can be easily missed or forgotten about when in the midst of gameplay. One of these is the Type attribute that restricts the number of how many of a single card you can have in play at any one time. If a card has Type 4, for example, it means that you can have up to four copies of that card in play. Type 1 cards are powerful and having the limitation of one in play makes them feel more unique than anything else you’ll have in play at that time.

Most of your strategies will form as you play. It is hard to begin an early assault as you’ll want to save your Combatants for defense against your opponent’s cards. Using your face-down Tactics and Condition cards will reduce the amount of Influence you have to build more Sites. You should only use these in extreme circumstances or when they can net you a significant advantage. Balancing out all of your resources will be tough at first, but you’ll eventually get used to it.

45-degrees-for-engagement

To use effects and attack, you need to Activate and Engage, respectively. This angles the card at its appropriate angle and allows you to see what cards are engaged or have been activated. These refresh at the start of each of your turns.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Battle For Sularia was an impressive Kickstarter campaign that drew a fair amount of attention. The amount of strategic depth on offer has many layers that will have you engrossed in the gameplay many plays after your first. The basic rule book gives you all you need to get going straight away, though you may find yourself referencing the full rules sooner or later when complex card interactions occur.

The game is touted as a quick game that usually only lasts about 20 minutes. I found this to only be true once you’d played a few times. Initial games will take a lot longer than this as you learn about the different card combinations and strategic moves that your factions can perform. The amount of thinking time dedicated to these strategies takes away some of the player interaction this game boasts about. However, once you’re more accustomed to the game you should be playing at a pace that feels much more interactive.

The delightful artwork is squandered by the overly-spacious card template. I do wish more love was given to the artwork as I have to squint to be able to make out the finer details of a piece. They are easily recognizable when on the board and each piece looks well separated. You’ll know which Combatant and Site is which from just a quick glance over your board, which showcases just how diverse the artwork is.

Jotune-versus-Synthien

The artwork is some of the finest seen in a card game in this genre. Sadly, the card template takes up much of the room and lessens the impact the artwork could have had at selling more units of the game.

The overall presentation is superb and if you’re into the story behind the game then I suggest you check that out on their website. There is plenty to read and a lot more beautiful artwork pieces to discover. If you get into the game you may want to think about picking up one of the glorious playmats that really does some of the artwork more justice than the cards could ever hope to do.

There are plans to expand the game beyond the starting factions and to grow the story of Sularia. More factions mean more decks and the possibility of even more game modes that would easily lengthen the replay value of the game. There is so much untapped potential with Battle For Sularia and if it can keep up the momentum from the successful Kickstarter campaign, there is no reason why this cannot be as successful as other much-loved expandable card games!

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by

Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

  • samervin

    Two quick things:

    Playing tactics and conditions do NOT keep you from playing sites. Their cost is a green arrow, Threshold Cost, which just means you have to have that many cards in your Influence Row. You never have to spend Influence to play tactics and conditions.

    Also, the Kickstarter for the first expansion is up, if you’re interested. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/punchitent/battle-for-sularia-blood-profit-and-glory

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