NOTE: this game has been discontinued. Find similar games here: Fantasy TCGs.
The Grigori Stones is a turn-based strategy game where instead of cards, players use tiles. It also adds in a little bit of the classic Chinese game Mahjong, along with other tabletop elements such as TCGs/CCGs, bringing it all together into the digital space as a unique mixture of gameplay mechanics.
The Grigori were once Angels sent to protect the world and humanity. However, they soon fell in love with the humans and as a result, offspring were born. We call them the Nephilim, but we know them today as Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies. They now battle with Man, represented by the Freemasons, in their last defiant act against their creator.
Does The Grigori Stones make the right moves with its unique blend of genres and gameplay? Read on to find out…
The Grigori Stones has one of the strangest game mechanics I have witnessed in a while. Instead of drawing from a deck, or building your deck as you play, you will use the tiles on the board to either defeat, or capture enemy tiles, move, or use their abilities. Your tiles will be formed of a Tileset (deck of tiles) that is either given to you during the course of the Campaign, or one you will construct, and every tile is placed on the board randomly at the start of the game.
Tiles are of a simple make-up and easy to understand. There is only one value on a tile when it is on the board, which is its strength. Everything else is just the image and name. Not much going on on the surface, but when you select a tile you will get more details about it. For example, if it has any special abilities that can be used, you’ll find them here.
Most of the tiles are “vanilla” — by this I mean that they will have no special effect and thus they are simply units that you will use to defeat your opponent’s tiles. Some are Uncommon versions of a Common tile and will have an increased strength value as a result. There is no way to tell if a tile has a special ability until you select it for a closer look.
In addition to your standard common and Uncommon tiles, there are Rare tiles that are usually the Officer tiles. These are the more powerful of the tiles and will have the most abilities on them, with a couple of vanilla tiles, too.
The game takes place on a square board with the tiles arranged in a random fashion for each game. When you conduct a successful attack, your victorious tile is returned to your hand for placement later. You may only hold 3 tiles at a time and if a tile would return to your hand whilst you have 3 in hand already, it will be discarded. Victory is obtained through several methods — capturing the opposing Faction’s flag, defeating all of their tiles, or making it impossible for them to move or take any actions. Any of these conditions are easily achievable, but it is also just as easy to lose in the exact same way, so be careful!
I was surprised by how much strategic depth the game has, and this is probably due to the borrowing of the Mahjong mechanic of tile placement. In order to use a tile it must be ‘free’ by having no tile restricting its movement, and this also includes being able to use their abilities. Once a tile is ‘free’, you can move it, attack, or use its ability.
I rather liked being able to rotate the board during Gameplay of The Grigori Stones and being able to see a tile I would have otherwise missed. Sadly this does come with a bit of a drawback: the artwork suffers a great deal for some reason when you do this. Firstly we have the backdrop that the board rests upon. It is of low quality and it is hard to discern any detail from the backdrops. Secondly, when you rotate and zoom in on the board, the card image quality worsens. I can only imagine that the developers used a lower quality image for the tile and didn’t think to use a larger quality render to keep its integrity when zoomed. I hope this is something they can fix in a future update.
MODES AND FEATURES
The Grigori Stones has a somewhat compelling story built into the Campaign mode and I did enjoy reading it between games. The story made for a nice distraction from the game, at times. The Campaign mode is a relatively simple affair that sees you take control of one of the four Factions. At first you will play as the Freemasons, the Faction that is trying to protect the world from the other three Factions of Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies.
Each Faction has its own story to tell, along with their own unique tiles that all play a part in the story-telling. As you complete story arcs from each Faction, you will move onto the next in order to learn their story. This will in turn give you experience with each one and thus hopefully by the end of the Campaign mode, help you decide which one you want to take to the realms of multiplayer.
The Grigori Stones doesn’t have a massively deep multiplayer mode, and I did find it to be a little lackluster, considering what could have been possible. There are no rankings or leaderboards, but instead it appears every match is just for fun against friends or AI. I would have liked a slightly more competitive mode within the game.
The game doesn’t really have a store or shop. Instead, it offers you a pop-up window within the game to purchase random tiles in packs or buy tiles of a specific Faction, which is great if you have by this point decided which one you prefer to play with. You are also able to buy more Campaigns that will further the story and this gives the game a little more longevity in a single player capacity, which is a welcome addition since the multiplayer aspects are a bit lacking.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
The Grigori Stones doesn’t employ a traditional system whereby you draw from a deck each turn. Instead you will build a Tileset that gets deployed to the board at the start of a game. When you build your Tileset you only have one rule to remember, that you cannot exceed 100 Souls (the games resource management system) worth of tiles in the Tileset. Officers and Elite tiles will cost the most Souls and you’ll probably only use one of each, or just a few if you want more than one particular Officer tile. Common and Uncommon tiles cost a lot less and it is reasonable to have up to 3 or 4 of these in your set.
I found that there is strength in numbers in The Grigori Stones, and with this strategy I made sure that my Tilesets consisted of a lot of the Uncommon versions of a tile for their increased strength. I would have a few Officers, but would limit them by having one or two with a high base strength, and also to those that have abilities that can either manipulate that value, or assassinate an enemy Officer tile.
You would be forgiven for thinking the best way to victory would be to eliminate the enemy tiles and then capture their flag. I found this to be the least productive method of victory, and it can often lead to defeat instead, due to leaving your own flag exposed. Instead, what I found to be the best method was that of control. Placing your tiles on top of the opponent’s tiles, ensuring that they cannot move and then playing tiles from the hand on those that remain is surprisingly effective a lot of the time. You will need to attack some tiles, as you may not have enough at the start to do this, but it was the most consistent way to victory that I found whilst playing.
The Grigori Stones is one of those games that will either appeal to you, or not. It has a rather niche idea that translates relatively well considering it doesn’t employ any of the usual card game mechanics. I found the Campaign to be fun and kept me entertained for a while, as that is the best part of the game, I think. The multiplayer left me wanting more from it though, and with a game that is all about strategy, it should have offered more opportunities for strategic play against other people online.
At the very least, The Grigori Stones is worth a play-through on the Campaign, as it is free to play. If you’re tempted into seeing more content, you can purchase extra tiles to experience more. I do hope that the developers add more content into the store, along with a much deeper multiplayer offering. Other than that, if you’re a bit tired of deck-based card games, but want something a bit similar with some new ideas, this one is worth checking out.
For more screenshots, click here.
NOTE: this game has been discontinued. Find similar games here: Fantasy TCGs.
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