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Fantasy Realms Review

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Review of: Fantasy Realms
Board Game Review by::
April W

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On Sep 11, 2023
Last modified:Mar 19, 2024

Summary:

We review Fantasy Realms, a combo card playing board game published by WizKids Games. In Fantasy Realms, players are trying to create the highest scoring hand over the course of the game.

Fantasy RealmsSometimes great things come in unassuming packages, yet as gamers, we often judge games by their cover. There is certainly nothing to catch the eye in this generically themed game, but after watching some overviews and hearing positive opinions, I wanted to find out if there was, in fact, a little magic hidden beneath the lid.

Fantasy Realms is a drafting and set collection game for 2-6 players, though it plays best with 2-4. Playtime can be anywhere from 5-20 minutes.

Gameplay Overview:

In Fantasy Realms, players are dealt a hand of seven cards, which they will refine throughout the game. The deck is then placed in the center of the table. This concludes set up. Turns are simple: take a card, discard a card.

Fantasy Realms Wizard
There are 10 different suits in the game.

In a bit more detail, the first player to take their turn will draw from the deck and then discard a card (it can even be the one they just drew) to the table. Discards are displayed so that every card is visible—this is important because, on future turns, players have the option to draw from the deck, or take a previously discarded card. The game ends when the 10th card is placed into the discard area. Players immediately score their hands and the highest score wins.

In the two-player variant, players start with no cards. Instead, they draft a hand by either drawing two from the deck and keeping one, or picking up a discard. They play until 12 cards are discarded instead of 10.

Fantasy Realms King
The king gives you two different ways to score.

Game Experience:

The crux of the game lies in how the cards score; there are 10 suites, each with its unique theme. Some cards complement each other, making for exciting scoring opportunities, but you have to be careful because some cards might also penalize others, robbing away precious points. The rules for each card are written on them, so there’s no need to memorize symbols or keywords. For example, The Wand has a base value of 1, but if you hold it along with a wizard, it scores an additional 25 points at the end of the game. The Empress will give you a 10-point bonus per army in your hand, but she’s jealous of her power and scores negative 5 per other leader in your hand! In this simple deck of 53 cards, you will find endless possibilities and scoring combos, which makes for highly addictive gameplay.

Fantasy Realms Hand
Players will try and have the best hand of cards by the end of the game.

Unfortunately, this same delicious abundance of strategies to explore can also freeze newer players in their tracks. This is a game that benefits from repeat plays and, as you become familiar with the cards, you won’t have to spend as much time reading each one again and again. This isn’t an overwhelming hindrance and is remedied after a few plays, but may be enough to put some new players off.

The game also scales well. The box I own says 3-6 players, but there is a 2-player variant in the rules which, unlike some dreaded two-player variants, actually plays very well and maintains the feel of the regular game. While still good at 5 and 6 players, you run into the potential issue of some players not getting very many turns. In theory, in a 6-player game, one player could get just one turn if everyone chose to draw cards without picking up discards—though with all the cards being placed on the table and given that everyone will be going for their own strategy, that is not likely to happen. There is certainly some luck involved, as is always the case when drawing from a deck, but the game is so short and, once you’re familiar with the cards, at least- quick, that a little luck is acceptable.

It has been said that scoring in Fantasy Realms takes longer than the game itself. This is only slightly true if you use the included scorepad, but fortunately, there is an amazing and simple scoring app available through the Wizkids website which greatly simplifies the process.

Final Thoughts:

Fantasy Realms provides a simple, yet deep experience. It may involve a bit too much brain crunching for newer players, especially if they are “non-gamers”, but it’s the ideal filler for strategy gamers who enjoy rewarding combos. The simplified scoring app, many possibilities, quick setup, and ease of play are what keep me coming back to it after more than 50 plays. Even the seemingly bland theme actually assists in understanding the game- i.e. floods and flames don’t mix well. This is the perfect game to sit down to at the end of a long day when you want a rewarding but simplified gameplay experience.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars – The ideal filler game for strategy gamers who love rewarding combos.

4.5 StarsHits:
• Lightning quick setup
• Simple, but deep gameplay
• Various scoring possibilities
• Integrated scoring app

Misses:
• Bland artwork and theme
• Might overwhelm new players
• Scoring is tedious without an app

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