When it comes to dueling games, there is no shortage of options. From the juggernaut that is Magic: The Gathering, down to small, indie titles like Allegiance: A Realm Divided, I always love seeing what innovations designers come up with.
Today, we are going to look at Ivion, a fantasy-themed dueling game that will have you battling your opponent for supremacy. Does it have what it takes to stand out in a crowded genre? Let’s find out.
There are three different versions of Ivion, each themed around two different heroes. The characters are all interchangeable though, letting you get some variety in your battles. Players will alternate taking turns until one player has been reduced to zero life. On a player’s turn, they will first draw a card, and then gain three action tokens and their initiative token. Different actions you can take on your turn include:
• Play a card from your hand: These will cost action tokens and/or power, and have a variety of effects. Many will be used to attack your opponet.
• Move 1 tile: Costs 1 action token
• Spend a resource (action or power) to remove a status effect from your character
• Spend your initiative token to either gain a free movement or draw a card.
Any action tokens not used are carried over for the player’s next turn. Initiative tokens however are lost if not used (Yes, it’s true. If you don’t use it, you lose it). Players will also have a few feat cards that stay in play outside their deck. Two are abilities and one is an ultimate card. These give the character special powers and help to make them feel more unique.
Turns will go back and forth in this manner until one hero is KO’d.
First of all, I have to say that Ivion has some amazing production values. The artwork is absolutely fantastic, everything is organized into Game Trayz, and even the miniatures look great. I had hopped on BGG at one point to look up something about the game and didn’t even know there was a first edition. They two versions are night and day in terms of quality and appeal. So kudos to Luminary Games for getting it right on the second try.
And thankfully, the gameplay holds up to the great components. I had a lot of fun with Ivion. The hero decks are actually customizable, allowing players to make their own heroes by combining two different classes. Want to make a Knight Wizard or maybe a Sorcerer Enchantress? Craft those heroes! This allows for a good amount of customization in Ivion.
That being said, I am really glad they included starter decks for all the characters. When we first jumped in to play, I had no idea what I was doing. So having preconstructed decks made learning the game so much easier. We each just grabbed a character that sounded cool and duked it out. I think if we were forced to craft heroes from the start, it could have led to a much more difficult learning experience.
But the gameplay itself features a lot of back-and-forth tactical dueling. For some heroes, positioning is really important—especially melee fighters. Being able to drop a slow status token on them, dart back, and lob a magic missile spell from a distance is pretty fun. And the action system is really well designed. I like that you can save up actions for later turns, adding in a risk/reward scenario where you have a lighter turn only to have a bigger punch later.
In fact, my biggest gripe with Ivion is probably how they used the two rulebooks. There is a learn-to-play book that’s only a couple of pages, and also a full rules reference. I found the learn to play book to be way too high level of an overview. I read through it and really didn’t understand how to play the game. Once I read that, and the rules reference, it all made sense. Frankly, these two books should just have been combined into one rulebook. The game really isn’t that hard where a split book was necessary.
For fans of dueling games, especially ones with a light skirmish element, Ivion is a home run. The action system is fun, there is some solid variety with the character crafting, and the production values are off the charts. Luminary Games did a great job with the second edition of Ivion, and I’m glad I got a chance to try it. The only thing I’d like to see now, other than more characters, would be some kind of storage system to combine all the characters into one box.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – A great dueling game with a light skirmish element that has some fantastic production values.
• Two rulebook system doesn’t work well
• Needs a way to store everything together