Plaid Hat Games recently released Guardians, a fierce head-to-head experience playable with two or four (in teams) players. The game pits two teams of superheroes against each other for control of the city.
Storywise: There once was a group of superheroes who went by the collective term “Guardians.” They fought against evil and injustice – and won. Together, they formed the first world government before stepping down to allow the population of the planet to steer towards its own destiny. Three generations later, trouble has resurfaced, and the government does not operate as well as was originally intended (big surprise). A new generation of supers arises to fight: some in support, others against.
Players vie for control of critical locations in the city. To accomplish this, they take control of a team of three Guardians. Each Guardian has a unique set of cards. Three unique packs of cards and a set of regular cards (which both players receive) are combined to make a unique action deck for each player. In addition, each character has a special ability printed on their card, as well as Health and Attack numbers. And each has a Super Power which can be charged up (via cards) and deployed once per game to devastating effect.
Gameplay is pretty simple: Players spend three actions, divided how they see fit amongst their team. Usually, Guardians will move between locations and attack each other. When a Guardian receives damage equal to its health, it is knocked out. Players can also play cards from their hand to perform special maneuvers on the board, or even charge up the Super Power.
While being aggressive and knocking out your opponent’s Guardians is fun, and often necessary, it does not score any points. The main purpose of the game is to control the city. All locations have a control marker, and being in a location with no opposing Guardians present pushes it in your direction. If it makes it all the way to your logo, you capture the location and add it to your score pile. The winner is the first player to 10 points.
The game itself is fast and furious. Unfortunately, the games can feel a little tedious at times as you and your opponent exchange blows, and you can get stuck in a situation where a few contested locations may take a long time to score. However, the game is still relatively short (around 30-40 minutes), so in the end it does not overstay its welcome.
The variety in the game is found in the Guardians that it comes with. Ten come in the box, although more may be released in an expansion.