If you follow the AEG homepage or the Thunderstone Facebook group you may already know : big changes are coming for the popular deck-building game. With the release of Thunderstone Advance they start something new : with new story, components, mechanics and changes, while keeping the game full backward compatibility. It seems a very interesting idea !
To those who don’t know the Thunderstone product line here is a short recap :
Thunderstone is a deck-building game, released first in 2009. All players are representing a leader of a band of heroic adventurers who try to collect the powerful thunderstones to banish the ancient evil, Doom from the world. The cards in the game are representing the various adventurers, hireling, equipment, weapons and spells available in your adventuring group. Every player build his own deck during the game, based on the same starting cards.
In the last expansion the players successfully beat Doom, but instead of destroying him, unintentionally freed him to travel to ravage other worlds. Now, they must face him again.
In my opinion, Thunderstone is a very good game, which captures the theme of dungeon crawling very well. It’s including a slightly dark mood in it’s artwork and theme which is a great plus.
There is not much we currently know about the change. There are some changes regarding the outlook, including a slightly different border, multiple border colors for easier identification and a somewhat rearranged card layout. There are also some mechanical/component changes, which encompasses the inclusion of a new village board, new abilities and keywords, a reworked basic deck and new mechanics for the endgame. It seems we will fight powerful Thunderstone Bearers instead of grabbing the stones just lying around the dungeon!
Interestingly it’s the new artwork and border which caused the most discussion on the internet. I think the new layout is slightly better than before, including the new icons for Victory point and XP values, as well the bigger place for artwork. The inclusion of new border colors for different types of cards is also an advancement, making the identification of cards easier. On the other hand, I’m not sure in the artwork, as on the previewed cards I didn’t seen the unique artwork I’m used to.
Speaking about mechanical changes I must talk about the new basic deck. Originally all players started with 12 cards : 6 Militia, 2 Iron Rations (food), 2 Dagger and 2 Torch. More often than not in the first several turns you draw almost unusable hands with zero chance to kill any monster in the wild, which is the most interesting part of the game anyway. It seems the designers recognized this problem, as they replaced every card in the basic deck except the torches.
Instead of Militia we now receive 6 Regulars with almost the same stats. But even these small changes count, as Regulars are easier to train into full heroes, they could carry bigger weapons and they may even draw cards if combined with polearms. Longspear replaced Dagger which is almost an identical card, except that it’s a polearm, offering synergy with our warriors. The almost useless Iron Rations were also replaced by Thunderstone Shards which is vastly superior than it’s predecessor. While bringing the same limited functionality it could also give extra XP to level up your heroes, as well as a Victory Point. Tha later meen that you may want to keep this basic cards around even if stronger effects are available. You may read the article about the new basic deck here on AEG.
In my opinion Thunderstone Advance really seems promising, and I will keep an eye on the future previews.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros