Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
If you have read my reviews or Top Ten lists here on Boardgamequest, you know that cooperative games are my favorite. In fact, I was an all-in backer for the original, Kingdom Rush: A Rift in Time, on Kickstarter. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I found out I would have the opportunity to preview Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising.
Launching on Gamefound on February 9th, Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising is a cooperative tower defense game for one to four players, with games lasting between 60 to 90 minutes. The preview copy I was provided only supported two players.
In Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising, you are trying to defend the Kingdom from invading monsters. This is accomplished by placing towers or moving heroes to strategically damage and, hopefully, eliminate the hordes before they reach the Kingdom.
Games last a different number of rounds, depending on the scenario. Each round consists of six phases:
- Spawn new hordes – new horde cards are placed spawned
- Play tower and hero cards – the meat of the game, when players determine the best strategy for eliminating the hordes
- Destroy hordes trays – hordes that have been eliminated are removed
- Advance horde trays – surviving horde move towards the Kingdom gate
- Pick up cards – Cards played in the second phase are returned to the player’s hand
- Spend crystals/coins – defeated horde provide crystals for new towers or coins to upgrade towers
The game ends when either the Kingdom is overrun, or the players stop the horde.
I was impressed with this game, even in its prototype form. Before getting into the details, I want to make it clear: this is a standalone game. The original Kingdom Rush is NOT required. In fact, so many tweaks and features were added to this game that only the Heroes are cross-compatible between Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising.
Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising retains the strategy of placing attacks from your towers and heroes on horde cards in order to eliminate them, but in a new jungle setting. So, what new features did I like?
My favorite change was to the towers. They are no longer destroyed when attacking portals because…well, because portals were removed from the game and replaced with events. This change allowed the developers to expand the tower system by adding the ability to upgrade your towers by spending coins, a new currency added to the game. You can now modify (using tokens, thankfully not stickers as originally designed) the towers with new abilities, like changing the type of damage or the range of its attack.
Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising adds five new heroes to the mix. The prototype included two of them. I really appreciated the hero’s new unique abilities. Bruxa can raise the dead in future turns by being on or adjacent to a horde that is destroyed, while Alric has 2 Sand Warriors who can protect Heroes from damage and activate blossoms…yes, blossoms.
New to the game are environmental features. The prototype included two such features: the previously mentioned blossoms and lava pools. When activated, blossoms can attack two different hordes, while lava pools provide a crystal, if a hero is willing to risk getting hurt. I really liked these features as they provided additional strategic options to players.
The player’s toolbox of horde crushing options was not the only area the developers tweaked. Besides the removal of portals, two other significant changes were made to the horde: shaman barriers and tough enemies (normally a mini-boss). Shaman barriers are present on two sides of the card, along with a magical or physical resistance icon. Ranged attacks that match the icon cannot harm the horde.
As bad as that sounds, how about only being able to cover one space with each damage token you place, or it cannot be placed on the horde? Welcome to tough enemies…otherwise known as “why I cried and went to bed”. Both of these changes will really make your brain hurt when determining how to finish them off without allowing all of the other hordes to become overwhelming. Good luck!
I really enjoyed playing the two scenarios provided in the prototype of Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising. There were more decisions to make, tougher enemies to battle, and, in my opinion, a better tower system enhanced by the new coin currency.
What really excites me about this game is that I have only seen a small portion of its content. I did not get to experience the other three heroes, the other ten scenarios of the campaign or either of the two promised giant bosses. And that does not even consider any potential stretch goals that may be unlocked during the campaign.
If you are interested in following the Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising campaign, launching on Gamefound on February 9th. I know I will be following this campaign closely.