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Card Game Review: ‘Draconis Invasion: WRATH’ from Keji

Draconis Invasion, the cooperative deck-building dark fantasy game from Keji, is kicking the fight against the onslaught of evil into an even higher gear with its new expansion: WRATH. The shadowy art matches the fearsome imagery of the original, but it is somehow even more nightmarish with its turn toward ragged giant monsters, creatures with foul glowing eyes, and, perhaps most chilling of all, cursed beings that are just on the edge of human. As rich as the thematic elements are, the gameplay is where Draconis Invasion shines.

The basic mechanics of Draconis Invasion are the same with a few suggested tweaks to add to the players’ options. The game stands unique in its use of gold to not only buy cards but also to activate them from a player’s hand. While most deck-building games use initial points like “gold” as a starting point from which players seek to move beyond; gold always remains a valuable commodity in Draconis Invasion as players work to defeat an assault of powerful foes amid brutal Events. Players gradually accumulate Terror cards that take up valuable space in their hands, and the more Terror means more Events, which ultimately balance the game as the ultimate goal is to collect the most Glory Points to win the game.

The original Draconis Invasion follows a smooth A-BCD flow of play: play an Action card, then Buy a card, drawn new Campaign cards that pay bounties, or Defeat an invader, ending the turn by discarding the whole hand. This expansion suggests adding two more possibilities: Eliminate a non-Terror card as an option to help clear out older cards from one’s deck and Forward, which allows players to place an unused gold card on top of their draw piles, resolving the potential issue of getting caught without enough gold in a single hand to make the big purchases. With these actions available, the game is sped up and elevated to more epic play.

In addition to new mechanics, the expansion to Draconis Invasion brings in a slew of new experiences to the field. The new monsters like the dreadful construct Abomination, the leering Sea Dragon, and unnervingly beautiful Babalon are balanced by new Defenders and Actions. Players may draw glorious Lion Lords and hard-hitting Minataurs into their decks, not to mention glass-cannons like Goblin Enforcers and fiery Seraph that do devastating, though costly, amounts of damage. Actions provide more balanced gameplay than ever with players who make a big push to get ahead in points giving free cards or bonuses to other players, bringing them along without much gap.

As a new angle for Draconis Invasion, the expansion offers a new “campaign” mode in which players compete across ten Battle Stages. The base pack had suggestions of what sets of cards to include for the original Battle Stages, but these offer a whole new setting as the forces of the kingdom turning the tide against the maleficent invaders only to discover a trap. The sets of cards build to introduce more powerful cards step by step, giving new players time to learn these new skills and adapt their strategies to take advantage while giving a sense of story to fans of world-building.

Draconis Invasion is a card game for one to six players aged fourteen and up. Check out gameplay in action:

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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