Guardian's Call - A Kickstarter Preview!
PUBLISHER: Druid City Games
DESIGNER: James Hudson
PLAYERS: 2 - 5
TIME: 20 – 40 min
INTRODUCTION to GUARDIAN'S CALL
From the Publisher: Guardian’s Call is a bluffing and deduction game for 2-5 players. Each player takes the role of a renowned Guardian, a leader of one of the mighty clans. Each turn you will gather provisions from the center pool and then make an offer of aid to another player. That player will decide if they think your offer is sincere or if they think you are trying to deceive them. If they are correct in guessing, they gain all the provisions that were offered. If they were incorrect, you gain the provisions. Each type of provision grants points in a different manner, and the more you collect, the greater their points value.
I received a prototype version of Guardian’s Call.
Guardian’s Call is played over a series of rounds until both the Council and War cards are drawn from the deck. When the Council card is drawn or revealed, the Guardians score points for Quests and for their villagers protected in their Castle. Then play continues until the War card is revealed. When the War card is revealed, the game ends immediately and final scoring is conducted.
1. Replenish the card pool from the Guardian deck to five cards.
2. Preparation (optional) -- do any number of these action
- Draw cards into your hand up to the hand size of 6.
- Buy a card directly to your tableau for 3 Coins.
- Remove a Curse from the pool for 5 Coins, and gain 5VP.
- Discard three Artifact cards to draw Treasure cards.
3. Offer a set of cards to another player.
On your turn, you may draw cards until you have 6 cards in your hand. You may draw from the center pool or from the top of the card deck. When you finish drawing cards, you must make an offer to another player.
Make an Offer
Choose another player and flip your token that matches their character face down. Then choose a number of cards from your hand and present them to the player, face-down. Declare the number of cards you are presenting and the type, “Here are two Weapons” or “I have three Artifacts for you." You may choose to be truthful about what you are offering or you may lie. The player who is receiving the offer must then state whether they believe you or not by saying, “Thanks for the weapons!” or “Those aren’t Artifacts.”
- If they guessed correctly, they keep the cards, adding them to their tableau, and you take 1 coin.
- If they guessed incorrectly, the cards will join your tableau, and they take 1 coin.
There are a number of rules that govern how you make an offer:
- An offer may consist of only one type of card.
- A player may never declare that they are offering Curses -- they must bluff.
- A player may only offer to a Guardian if they have an unused Offer token for that Guardian.
- A player may lie about the type of cards in an offer, but not about the number of cards.
- When receiving an Offer, a player must state clearly whether they believe the Offer is true or false
You can earn coins a few different ways:
- When making or receiving an offer if the other player gains the cards, you take 1 coin.
- When you receive a card of your Guardian’s affinity, you gain 1 coin per card
- If you take any curses, you gain 1 coin. You can spend coins on your turn, at any time.
You can spend coins in a couple different ways:
- You may take any number of cards from the center pool and add them directly to your tableau, paying 3 coins for each.
- You may also pay 5 coins to remove a Curse from the pool and immediately gain 5 VP.
When you gain Guardian cards, they are added to your tableau in stacks. You may only have one stack for each type. There are 6 types of cards:
- Weapons: At the end of the game the player with the most Weapons gains 20 points and the player with the second most gains 10 points
- Artifacts: On a player’s turn, they may discard three Artifacts to draw two Treasure cards. Choose 1 to play face-up. Treasures are worth points and give the player a one-time magical effect.
- Shields: At the end of the game, Shields are worth points equal to the total you have collected. 1=3, 2=6, 3=10, 4=15, 5+=20.
- Villagers: For each Villager you collect, you will advance 1 step on the castle board. When the Council card is revealed, the Guardian who has saved the most Villagers will score 10 VP and second most 5 VP. You may also collect points from the board by passing special VP spaces. The first time you pass each VP space, if there are any VP tokens on the space you may take one.
- Spells: Spells can be used as any type of card. When you gain a Spell in an offer, you may immediately choose which card type it will be added to, provided you have at least one of that card type, or you may choose to leave them as spells and place them in their own stack. Any time you successfully add a card to your tableau, you may choose to have any number of unassigned Spells become that card type. If you do this, you may choose the order in which they are added to the stack.
- Curses: A player may never state that they are offering Curses, they must instead bluff by declaring them to be another type of card. If the receiving player guesses wrong, they must suffer the effect of the Curse. If they guess correctly, the Curse is turned back on the player who made the offer. Curses have a negative effect on the player who receives them, depending on the strength of the Curse:
- 1 Curse - Discard any one Hero of your choice.
- 2 Curses - Discard one Hero of the opposing player’s choice.
- 3 Curses - The opposing player chooses and steals one Hero from your Army
Whenever a player suffers the effects of a Curse(s) they also gain 1 coin.
Each game, 3 different Quests are set before the Guardians, giving the opportunity to gain more fame and prestige during the preparations for War. Each Quest has a specific condition that must be met at the time shown on the card (either at Council or at War). All players who meet a Quest’s condition gain the full point reward displayed on the card.
Council and War card
When the Council card is revealed, the Council will begin immediately. If the Council card is drawn from the deck, the player who drew it must reveal it as soon as they draw it. The warlords are called to Council for the upcoming war.
- Castle Track - The 1st and 2nd player on the Castle Track score 10 and 5 points respectively.
- Quests - Check and award points for any Quests with rewards during the Council. After these effects are resolved, the player who revealed the Council card continues their turn.
When the War card is added to the Card Pool or drawn from the deck, the game ends but you finish your current round. Then, follow these steps to determine the final strength of each Guardian’s army! (A player must immediately reveal the War card if they draw it.)
- Castle Track - The 1st and 2nd player on the Castle Track score 10 and 5 points respectively.
- Quests - Check and award points for any Quests with rewards during War.
- Cards - Award points for each card type.
- Coins - Coins are worth 1 point for every 3 at the game end.
- VP Tokens - Add any VP tokens collected.
How to win
Collect Victory Points!
The player with greatest number of Victory Points is called upon to be the Guardian of the Realm!
WHAT MIGHT YOU LIKE?
There’s not much to dislike in Guardian’s Call so this section may be lengthy. Guardian’s Call takes the core bluffing design of fun, intuitive and engaging gameplay and adds strategic decision making to take the genre to a whole new level. There’s a meta to how you bluff your sets in a way that I’ve not encountered from any other game. It scales to all player counts very well and in fact, Guardian’s Call is one of, if not, the best 2 player bluffing game I’ve ever played.
The art on Guardian’s Call is superb! It’s eye-catching, vibrant, and thematic. The card design, player boards, and various tokens are clean and intuitive.
Everyone at the table stays invested on everyone’s turns as they watch to see if players draw from the public pool or secretly from the top of the deck. Because players can choose from anyone at the table, as long as their guardian tile is available, players will have to remain vigilant. This allows the game to feel engaging and players to feel connected even when it isn’t their turn.
One of the cleverest aspects of Guardian’s Call are the character tiles. Each player will have a character tile of each Guardian at the table. They may only make an offer to a player whom they have not made an offer yet. When a player makes an offer to another Guardian, they flip that character tile face-down and once a player offers to everyone at the table, they flip all their tiles face-up. This serves a few functions, most notably to allow all players to receive an equal amount of turns but also helps eliminate king-making or picking on other players.
Guardian’s Call is incredibly easy to learn, but it provides a deep bluffing and deduction experience. There are layers of strategy waiting to be uncovered and each different group of Guardians will have a unique meta experience. The strategy doesn't stop with bluffing. Attempting to save villagers becomes important for gaining VPs and moving towards 1st or 2nd before the Council card is drawn. There are many ways to victory while playing Guardian’s Call and they’re all fun!
WHAT MIGHT YOU DISLIKE?
If you you’ve played other bluffing games, like Sheriff of Nottingham, getting the offer rules down could be your biggest hurdle. You may only bluff the same type of card, and not a combination of the 6 types. It’s not difficult, but you might catch yourself accidently getting it backwards your first game.
If you’re not a fan of deduction or bluffing games, obviously you may not like Guardian’s Call. It utilizes core mechanics of most social deduction and bluffing games while introducing strategic scoring mechanics. However, Guardian’s Call is still a bluffing game and if you dislike this genre, you may want to look elsewhere.
Guardian’s Call is one of the best deduction and bluffing games I've ever played. The strategic decisions for bluffing are fantastic and reading your opponents and the game state is extremely important. The flow and pace of the game is perfect for its weight and it incorporates dynamic set collection mechanisms and exciting player interaction. Overall, Guardian’s Call is the strategic entry to the bluffing genre that I've always wanted.
You will like this game if: you enjoy deduction, bluffing, having fun, incredible art, and interactive gameplay.
Guardian’s Call prepares for Kickstarter War on October 3rd!
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