If you need a filler between game sessions or to pass the time before the last players arrive, check-out The Spoils from Arcane Tinmen. With great sci-fi fantasy flavor, fantastic art, and tongue-in-cheek humor, it’s a good fit for role-players who enjoy the occasional card game.
The Spoils is a player versus player battle taking one player’s trade (or group of trades) and pinning them against the other player’s trade (or group of trades). The goal is to destroy the other player’s Faction by reducing its Influence to 0. A Faction could be considered as a player’s headquarters with their characters being the defenders and the attackers against the opposing headquarters.
The style is a combination of Sci-Fi and Fantasy with an emphasis on combat tactics to create an attacking party that can thwart the blocking party. Each trade is unique and utilizes a different means of power through the different mechanics available in the game. Game-play is fast and fun with the ability to be as simple or advanced as desired. The starter set contains two starter decks which take a more simplistic look at the game and this is how the review is being performed.
The starter set includes the basic edition of the rules with an advanced rules set available for viewing on The Spoils website. While the basic rules give a good overview and introduction to the system, there were several areas that I found needed clarification and thus turned to the website for those rules. I was easily able to find those clarifications and all confusion was put to rest. After referencing the advanced rules set, the basic rules set made a good reference during game-play to answer the questions that arose.
As with many trading card games, The Spoils is strategic not only during game-play but also during deck construction. Much of the game appears to be combo heavy thus requiring the right combination of cards to be used. Some of the trades are geared toward blocking while others are geared more toward attacking. At the same time, some of the cards are strong but slow while others are weak but stealth or quick. Choosing the right combination of characters in-play along with using the right tactics, gear, and locations make for a great game with plenty of tactics and lots of replayability. However, there is no shortage of great cards to choose from and I find the starter decks give a good start to learning the game without taxing the mind in creating a lot of strategy. These starter decks are fairly straightforward and allow both players to get a good understanding of how to build upon these decks.
Game-play was fast and fun. The cards look great on the table and present each player with a unique challenge. Who do you attack with and who do you save to block? Do you play a resource or draw a card? Resources are used to bring cards in-play and are the staple of game-play. The bonus mechanic to this is that there are staple resources and non-resource cards which can be used as a resource. If you find yourself with too many cards and not enough resources, you can simply place any non-resource card face-down and it becomes a usable resource. This allows more flexibility during deck construction and gives each and every card a purpose whether it’s for normal attacks, blocking, or simply to bring out other cards in your hand.
The five trades are Arcanist, Banker, Gearsmith, Rogue, and Warlord. Each one is a little different from the other with emphasis on a certain style of use. Arcanists make use of stealth although their characters are fairly balanced. Bankers appear to be defenders with their high Life points and their tactics for effecting a Faction’s Influence. Gearsmith’s appear to be heavy on gear which augments characters. Rogues often have a higher speed which means their attacks resolve earlier and have a good chance at taking out the blocking party and surviving. Warlord’s use high strength and can cause a lot of damage, however they are a bit slow. I find that to properly build a deck, creating the right combination of characters from two (or more) trades may be the key as a single trade may not be able to cover all aspects of the game. This could be altered by using key tactics, items, locations, and strategy, but the right combination of characters from the pertinent trades seems like a likely choice.
After playing a single game, the rules became easily understood and continuing game-play could become faster and faster. By understanding not only the mechanics but the stats for each card, players may find themselves playing an entire game in less time than they think. It didn’t take long to get the opposing players Faction down to 0 Influence, although with the incorporation of stronger decks game-play may become longer. This is completely dependent upon the tactics used and the constructed deck. You could either hit hard and fast or bleed your opponent slowly while you easily survive. I find a lot of options and can’t wait to incorporate the expansions into follow-up games.
Overall I found The Spoils to be quite enjoyable. The illustrations are wonderful to look at although you may want to keep them away from children. The game is definitely geared toward an older crowd and often uses crude humor as flavor text to make the cards that much more enjoyable. With fast and fun game-play and an easy-to-understand set of rules, The Spoils could easily be picked up by numerous players seeking a change from their normal card games.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
There’s no doubt that the first thing you notice is the phenomenal illustrations found on every single card. It’s easy to see that The Spoils are visually appealing (even the card backs look great) using a high-quality line of art to represent each card. This isn’t a simple image depicting a character; each card is filled with background and/or interactions giving a complete picture of what the card truly is. This high standard is hard to meet and a definite draw to those who just stroll by.
Mechanics: 8 out of 10
While I found the basic mechanics to be simple, some of the rules were confusing and required a clarification on the website. While this is easy enough to do, I think the single-page rules sheet could contain the full advanced set of rules instead of the basic set on the front and only the definitions on the back. While some of the definitions are necessary, many of them could be moved to just the website allowing more room for the full set of rules. This was a minor thing and didn’t detract from the overall appeal of the game. Once the rules were understood, game-play was quick and easy and the stats and text on the cards were easily recognized. Another point to make is that the stats given on the cards are easily recognized and don’t really require further clarification. They are presented in a simple and easy-to-read manner that alleviates the need to constantly refer to the rules sheet.
Desire to Play: 9 out of 10
The Spoils is a great card game to play. The only thing that may turn some people away is some of the graphic illustrations, but then I found them to be quite artistic in nature. These play into the crude humor found throughout the game and are really a part of its theme. As previously stated, this game is not meant for children and art really shows that. This should not be a determining factor in deciding how good of a game it is, but it may end up as one for some players. I found the game’s mechanics make it truly shine while the theme is something that simply enhances game-play. I like the use of the five trades and I like how unique they are from one to the other.
Overall: 9 out of 10
I definitely recommend The Spoils for anyone who enjoys card games and especially for those who enjoy trading card games. With the incorporation of the expansions, game-play is bound to be filled with plenty of fun, options, and deck-building strategies. The only question is which trade(s) will you choose?