Boardgames in Blighty Reviews 12 Realms from Mage Company
Designer – Ignazio Corrao
Art – Michael Andresakis, Marvin Aure, Ignazio Corrao, Jerome Jacinto, Ginny Rosales, Carlo Rosales
Thanks to Mage Company for providing a review copy of this game
I’ve wanted to have a crack at 12 Realms for a while now. I really tend to like Fantasy RPG table top games and this seemed like one worth playing, just on looks alone as I will be right up front with you and say that 12 Realms has some of the most gorgeous art and components that I have found in any board game.
Being a co-operative game, 12 Realms can be played solitaire and I have decided to give a review based upon solo gameplay as this is of particular interest to me and there are plenty of multi-player reviews available.
From the Mage Company website –
12 Realms A fantasy co-op miniatures game for 1-7 storybook heroes fighting to free the world from the Dark Lords. Siegfried, Snow White, D’Artagnan, Red Riding Hood, and the other legendary literary heroes team up for one last great adventure. Travel together or fight alone. Each realm board offers its own set of challenges, monsters, and treasures as part of a grand quest for an artefact to save the day.
Siegfried, Snow White, D’ Artagnan, Red Riding Hood, and the other heroes of the 12 realms are being reunited for one last great adventure. The Dark Lords have joined forces to completely conquer and subjugate all the known Lands, and only the combined efforts of all the greatest heroes can halt their nefarious plan.
All players must band together to stop the Dark Lords’ overwhelming hordes from pillaging the 12 Realms. Individual invaders can be defeated by using each hero’s different talents, but to vanquish the Dark Lords you must claim a powerful artifact. In their quest to stop the invasion, the Heroes can travel together between different lands, or they can try to single-handedly defend a Realm. Each of the 12 Realms is an individual land, with different treasures and events, and populated by unique creatures.
My impression is that 12 Realms is aimed at the family market. Don’t go looking for dark fantasy and perhaps more serious fantasy as in other games. Using fairy tale characters is a statement of its intended audience. So I was a bit disappointed as I prefer LOTR and D&D type fantasy. I struggle with the Fairy Tale stuff as it is to child centred if I’m honest and hard to take seriously. I would have preferred more serious fantasy characters. Had I young children to play with, I would certainly feel differently.
Having said that, it did look like a game worth playing.
Here is what you get in the box…
- 4 Realms Maps
- Over 230 Tokens
- 88 Realms Cards
- 8 Hero Cardboards
- 4 Invasion Markers
- 41 Town Square Cards
- 2 Special Dice
- 40 Gold Plastic Coins
- 12 Miniatures
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Reference Sheet
As stated above, the quality of all of the components is very high. The art is quite frankly, gorgeous. The miniatures are really nice and if you are good at paining miniatures, you will have a chance to create awesome looking characters.
The cards are sturdy and the art is lovely. The icons are a good size and clearly illustrated.
The maps are gorgeous and very sturdy. They each represent a realm.
Each character comes with a double sided player board, each with different choices of attributes. Again, the art is consistently very nice.
My only issue is that the miniatures don’t come pre-painted but that’s probably asking too much.
This is a top level production. Mage Company have done a sterling job on 12 Realms.
The essence of 12 Realms is that the player is fighting off increasing numbers of baddies that are invading the realm. While you are using your appropriate Talents to beat them down, you need to collect 3 artefacts in order to take on the Dark Lord. Think a simpler version of Defenders of the Realm.
12 Realms has basic and advanced rules. They are relatively easy to understand and even.
The set up details are clear with nice illustrations to support. Each game, you will choose the realm you will attempt to play. Each realm has its own dedicated Dark Lord and associated army of baddies. You will then choose the character who you will seek to defeat the Dark Lord. The double sided character card gives you slightly different sets of Talents to choose from which gives you more choices and challenges to win.
The basic game takes place over a series of turns, divided in three phases:
Phase 1 – Invasion –
Update Invasion Tracks – Each turn the baddies enter the realm. Also, the invasion marker is moved one space along the invasion track for every enemy unit on the board, bringing it closer to the point where you release the Dark Lord to enter the realm.
Resolve Powers: If there are any Invaders on any Active Realm’s boards with the following Powers: Curse, Marauding, or Summon, then their effect must be resolved.
Draw Realm cards: You draw 2 Card per Active Realms plus an Extra Card in the end. These cards bring enemies, treasures or 1 of the 3 artefacts that must be collected into the realm. The baddies come in a variety of styles, each with their own abilities which may be overcome. The icons make it very easy to understand what you need to do to defeat them.
Invaders Appearance: Place the enemies on the board.
Phase 2 – Perform Actions –
Your character moves and can “spends” various Talents to try and defeat the baddies. Each realm has their own dedicated enemies that are unique so there is a certain type of enemy character set for each.
You can also collect treasures and 3 artefacts that you must have to face the Dark Lord of the Realm. To defeat the enemies, your character effectively “spends” Talent tokens. You can also Trade artefacts with other players, Visit the Town to purchase useful things to build up your capability to defeat enemies and the Dark Lord and Travel to other realms.
Phase 3 –
Refresh – Spent tokens are returned to the attribute spaces of the player card.
Players continue to take turns until they manage to defeat every Active Realm’s Lord of Darkness.
There are other supporting rules but those in essence are the core aspects of the gameplay. Its pretty easy to get started and playing. Advanced rules and other in additional rules give you more options and raise the level of difficulty. I would advise playing the core rules first to become familiar with the system and then adding the other rules as you see fit is easy and makes the game more interesting.
The rules are well written and the game play of the core rules flows well. The turns move along nicely and quite quickly once you are familiar how it works. You can nail a game, certainly solitaire, in about 45 minutes which is very nice. I can see this game as being pretty easy to teach. A one page reference sheet would be useful but to be fair, I haven’t spent too much time having to referring back to the rules.
Did I enjoy 12 Realms?
There is a lot I like about 12 Realms. The art and components are top quality for starters which is a delight to look at. No question that this makes the game attractive to play.
The structure of the rules is very effective. I found it easy to play and get into. I like the way you can add additional rules to increase the challenge without more complexity.
One thing I really like is that the game scales out for more players. Basically, you add more realms for more players. Its a very flexible system, scaleable. Having the additional advanced rules allows you to choose the level you want to play so you can adjust to your audience. Again, this is really user friendly.
There are a lot of variables so no two games will ever play out the same way. Choosing different characters to take on different realms is good fun. 12 Realms doesn’t take too long so you can play often. To be fair, as a simple game, its not overly taxing on the brain but its a good diversion.
The core game comes with 4 realms, and more are on the way in expansions so that will add more options in terms of Dark Lords and their armies.
All that being said, there is a downside for me. I actually think that 12 Realms is too light for me, even with the advanced rules. I enjoy playing it but its just not satisfying enough in terms of story and experience. Playing each character adds nothing in terms of story or sense of a world in peril. It looks to be epic but doesn’t feel like an epic adventure.
Each realm, despite having different Dark Lords and armies, feels the same to be honest. Yes, some characters are better to take on different realms but its just a focus on making the most on utilising enough talent. There is no story to progress through. No sense of a journey. Its just bash the baddies with no tension beyond when the Dark Lord enters. It works, and it can be tough to beat and thats fine, I just want to feel something about the adventure and the characters. It doesn’t feel like an rpg game. When I compare it to something like Runebound, for instance, 12 Realms lacks the depth and sense of a story being played out.
And sorry, I don’t like the fairy tale characters. It seems childish. But if you play with young kids, they might like that.
So as an entry point into adventure games, its not bad at all and definitely worth playing. Its fun for me and a nice, relatively quick diversion. But limited it is in scope and feel. Just disappointing in terms of what it could have been. So its a mixed result for me.
For more information go to – http://magecompany.com/