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January 5, 2013

Thunderstone - a really fun deck-building card game

I'm becoming more and more enamored with board games of varying stripes, and diligently looking to see if I can find some electronic versions of well-loved games for my iPad. Since my post on the deck-building game Ascension, I've been playing that online with a friend almost non-stop. It really has increased my interest in deck-building games (and I still suggest that you friend me on Apple's Game Centre so we can play).

Wednesday night, I met with the Kitsilano Board Game group for the second time since I joined. We had a great three hours of gaming with quite a number of games to choose from. Everything from San Juan to Factory Fun (a game that I discovered last meeting that I *cannot* play because it involves having to picture how things can be laid out in a very quick fashion. Since I have no relative spatial ability whatsoever, I quickly became overwhelmed) and even Settlers of Catan.

You can see the large number of choices here.

Click for larger view. And yes, that's my beer, though that's not me in the picture.

I ended up playing this interesting-looking deck-building card game called Thunderstone, though.

The idea behind Thunderstone is that you are an adventurer who has come to a village where there are caves nearby. Buried in the caves is the Thunderstone, a stone of immense magic and power. But it's guarded by hideous monsters.

You can hire mercenaries and buy supplies in the village to help you in your quest.

At the beginning of the game, you have twelve basic cards (some militia, some light sources, and some food) and you are dealt six of them. You can either choose to go to the village and buy one card with the gold value in your hand, or you can go into the dungeon and kill a monster if you have enough attack points in your hand.

Be careful, though. There are three monster cards dealt out, and each one requires one extra light source or you will have an attack penalty.

The third option is to rest, and that allows you to destroy one card in your hand. This can come in handy when you have more cards in your deck, because you want to weed out the riff-raff that doesn't help you much (or perhaps one of the monsters gave you a disease card, which has a -1 Attack and should be destroyed ASAP).

At the end of each turn, all six cards are discarded and you draw six more. Any monsters you have killed or village cards that you've bought are put in your discard pile and will show up again once you have shuffled your deck.

Monster cards are replaced in the dungeon as they are killed, and eventually the Thunderstone will show up. Once the stone reaches the first level of the dungeon, the game ends and victory points are tallied (from monsters that you've killed). The one with the most victory points is the winner!

It may sound a little confusing just from the description, but it's incredibly easy to learn once you have it in front of you, though that does require somebody who knows the game as well. The rulebook can be a bit off-putting. However, with the owner of the game explaining things, I understood everything perfectly within a couple of turns. I even caught her on a misinterpretation of a card or two!

It's an incredibly fun game, and there are a bunch of expansions for it already (I'm not sure how many expansions she had), so the cost can build up. But if you are a gamer (and have the room to store all these games), it's a must-buy.

There is even a free Facebook version of the game that will allow you to play either against AI opponents or against your friends! Just search for "Thunderstone" on Facebook.

There is an iOS app too, but unfortunately it's for the Facebook game and not its own game. I hope they rectify that, but I get the feeling that won't be happening any time soon.

However you play, I do highly recommend it.


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