I played Thunderstone at GenCon 2013 as a ticketed event. I was curious what all the hubub was about. I had a good time, but I didn’t find it more amazing than other deck builders.
For some reason, when I started signing up for 2014 events, I saw Thunderstone and thought, this’ll be a fun 2 hours. So I ordered another ticket. I played it and had an absolute blast! I think the guy teaching it was more enthusiastic and the card combos were more fun than I remember from the previous year.
Now, my girlfriend is newer to board and card games and she’d already played one deck builder, which was the “DC Deck building game”. Which, on a side note, is a really terrible name for a game. But whatever. I don’t like that deck builder much either so I didn’t ‘think’ that she would hate all deck builders. I explained what the game was like and what made it different to her. With that, I decided to take advantage of a show special AEG had and I bought the “Worlds Collide” box. This is a starter box with reprints of a bunch of old Thunderstone cards that are not part of Advance yet.
She finally beat me for the first time last week and now is even more excited to play. We had played probably dozens of times before that and with other people and she still loved playing with not having won those times.
The fact that you get to level up heroes and that theme of going into the dungeon or the village to get your party stronger really keeps us coming back.
The game play is very similar to other deck builders, but the strategy and the dungeon delving is just enough different to separate it. Its very easy to teach to people that know even a tiny amount about deck builders.
My one criticism of the game is probably that you can get a combination of monsters and village cards that actually go pretty badly together. You might have enemies that require magic attack and have 0 magic attack heroes. But, get Into the Abyss or Numenera to get the colored xp tokens. The colored xp tokens can be discarded not just for leveling up heroes, but for getting other benefits based on the color. These enhance the game a lot! I almost thought about not using them, but the feeling of drawing the xp tokens randomly and getting some use if you have a stack of xp is just great.
My card spotlight that we’ve used so far:
I couldn’t find the Advance version, but here is the Thunderstone version. The Harruli is a fantastic guy if you have any spells at all that have a good effect or, even better, spells that let you cycle through your deck. The level 2 guy is probably the best of the group, but having one level 3 with some level 2’s is probably a good idea. The level 2 version gets a +2 Magic attack for every spell present. The level 3 doesn’t get any bonus attack, but he can search for spells to add to your hand from the top of the deck. Try him out with a Time Bend some time!