Game Length: 60 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 2 players up for an abstract strategy game with a lot of depth
Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends is ostensibly a game about duelling mages honing their craft in the field of combat, but in practice it’s more of an abstract game where players place pieces on a grid and attempt to form patterns, hoping to summon more powerful beings so they may fulfil conditions for points and disrupt the plans of their opponent.
In each turn, players will take two actions. In each action they may place a single basic token on the board on any unoccupied space, or perform a summoning. Each player will have a deck of cards, on which are printed the conditions required to summon creatures. This will require tokens to be placed in specific combinations on the board, and upon performing a summoning, that creature’s effect will occur.
Heroic creatures with powerful effects are available for both players to summon, but these require very specific patterns of tokens and will be difficult to perform. If a player gets too far behind, they may invoke Flare cards, allowing them to place an extra token on the board, destroy opponent tokens, or other useful abilities – this helps keep players who are on the back foot in the game, and able to perform summonings even when their forces are heavily depleted.
Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends plays from 2 to 4 players, in a variety of game modes – High Form, Deathmatch and Team High Form. Of these, 2 player High Form is possibly the ‘main’ game, where the players are competing to achieve certain conditions, such as forming an unbroken string of pieces from one side of the board to another, or destroying a certain number of your opponent’s pieces in a turn. There is still a game to be enjoyed in the Deathmatch, however, where victory is achieved by obliterating your opponents, and Team High Form is best reserved for four players who already understand the game well.
Expect your first few games of Tash Kalar to be rough. While the actual rules to the game are easy to learn, you’ll still be spending a long time pouring over the board, trying to determine what combinations you can form with as few moves as possible. You won’t feel like you’re in much control as your opponent summons powerful creatures and decimates your forces, then you happen to get off a summon of your own and turn the tables on him. As you gain experience with the game, however, you will start to appreciate the capabilities of you and your opponents, the momentum of the game and that dominating the board isn’t necessarily the path to victory.
Tash Kalar is a thoughtful and tactical game that demands repeat plays, preferably with two players, to be appreciated. If you are willing to put the effort into learning the different schools of magic and the subtleties of play, Tash Kalar is a rewarding game, but reaching that point will take time. If all this sounds like the kind of game you’d be interested in playing, then Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends is definitely worth investigating.