You’ve probably heard the story before; elves and humans working together to fight off the invading orcs. You may know the story, but have you ever taken part in the story? In Fantasy Defense that is exactly what you get to do. And just like most of those stories, you are woefully unprepared. I mean, seriously, most of your troops are mediocre at best and that best rarely shows up.
What is Fantasy Defense like?
Fantasy Defense is a 1-2 player game where the goal is to defend your city walls until all of the invading orc armies have been dealt with, including the dragon (yup, they even have a dragon). Each player has seven gates that they have to defend from the invading forces.
Each turn, the player’s draw cards and then see what enemy forces will be attacking that round. The enemies are drawn one at a time and sent to each player in an alternating order. The enemies are placed at an empty gate, sometimes to the left and other times to the left, determined by an arrow on the enemy itself. Once all of the enemies have been placed, the defenders (players) get a chance to deploy their troops. Each troop has a default defense value and some have abilities as well. Their abilities are typically used when the troop is deployed, but they can also be ongoing effects. When deploying the troops each player can help the other out by giving a card to the other player. In addition to deploying troops each player also has two spells they can use whenever they want. These spells can be very powerful if played at the right time.
After all cards have been played the attack value of the orc is compared to the defense value of your troops (some gates even have a bonus defense value). If the defense value is equal to or greater than the attack value then the attacker is destroyed. If not, then the attacker stays right where they were. Either way, one defender will have given their life in defense of the city and will be removed from the gate. If the city’s defense value ever goes to or below zero, then the players lose.
Halfway through the deck the dragon comes out to play and unlike the other troops it can be attacked by both players. Once defeated, the dragon leaves the field of play, only to return as the last card in the deck. If all enemy cards can be dispatched then the players win. If not, the orcs are victorious and rampage the city, causing the players to weep in sadness.
I really enjoy Fantasy Defense even if it has kicked my butt more than I have won. The game is simple enough that you can understand the rules pretty easily, but understanding the rules does not mean you will win. Trust me, you probably won’t, but that is not a bad thing. The difficulty in winning combined with strategic decisions always leaves me wanting to get one more game in just to see if I can manage to defeat the orcs.
What I like most about the game, though, are the abilities on the troops. Once you have learned what troops each race has, then you end up knowing what card(s) you really want to appear when you draw more cards. I often found myself saying; “I really hope I draw at least one wolf” this round, or “If I draw the wizard then I can get my spell back which will allow me to…” Then when you draw the exact card you needed, it feels good…real good
There is also a campaign expansion to the game. I promised not to spoil any of it, but let me say, if you like the base game, then you should definitely get the expansion.
- The tension builds each round as you attempt to defend against the hordes
- The campaign experience in the expansion is great
- Compact design and easily portable
- Like other cooperative games, sometimes the luck of the draw is against you
- No options for varying difficulty (Only 20 points for the city’s defense), though that can be remedied by a house rule
The game is not very difficult at all. Sure, there are some strategies and tactics to learn, but after a quick game without the action cards, most players will be able to pick up the rules without a problem.
- Players: 1 – 2
- Playing time: 15 – 20 minutes
- Suggested age: 10+