Tag Archives: card

Martial Art – The Card Game: Simplicity and Complexity in Equal Measure, here’s why…

Martial Art and it’s expansion, Battlefields is a two person card game from Spider-Goat Games. Set in Feudal Japan, you play as warlords vying for control of different regions.

The game is simple to learn, and the more you play, the more you realise that it is ultimately a game beyond measure. But I’ll get to that soon, first, let’s look at the game from the players perspective:

Setting Up the Game

It’s super quick and very simple. You start by separating the deck into the lands cards (the nice sea image), the battle deck (the black bird image) and finally two supply cards and the legend cards. The table space should look like this (only the cards in your hand are to be kept to yourself!)

martial art Japan card game war game feudal Japanese battlefield spider-goat games

Each player takes a supply card and then draws four battle cards. With more players (requiring another set of cards completely) the setup is only fractionally more complex, drawing two land cards but only looking at the special rules for the second.

Playing the Game

Simple really, you draw the top card from the lands deck and place it face up. This will show you the region the warlords are trying to capture. Some of the cards have a special text, which gives the locations and lands a feel for the hardship of the battle in a narrative way, such as Kanbara which is covered in snow – the player with the highest strength card must discard a card… its taken it’s toll to win this battle, on account of all the freezing weather.

Each player then commits a single battle card, face-down to the battlefield. When they are happy with their choice, the cards are revealed and the special rules (if any) are resolved. Each card has a strength rating which normally determines the winner.

Normally…

However, some cards can be played during the battle to weaken your opponent, bolster your own forces, or kill them before they even arrive. This is where the complexity of the game really comes in: you’ll need a poker face, a strong one, to fool your enemy. You’ll also need to consider how much you want to commit to each battle – sometimes winning isn’t worth the cost, as we found out. It is a strategy in itself to decide if the prize is even worth fighting for. But fear not, you will always have the Supplies card in your hand, which has a power rating of 0 and you can never discard it. Instead, it allows you to draw an extra card that turn.

Once the battle is resolved, the winner takes the land card to keep score, and each player then picks an extra battle card from the top of the pile.

The first to 12 land points or 3 bridges wins the game.

 

 

Components

The core Martial Art game consists of 60 Battle cards, 12 Land cards and the rules leaflet (which is very well written).

The Battlefields expansion consists of 8 terrain cards, 8 weather cards and 8 war cards, plus another clear and concisely written rules leaflet.

What makes it good?

There are a variety of cards in the battle deck. Some are simply different soldiers or troops with a power rating, whilst others are weaker with special abilities. The battle cards are colour coded, red for damaging, white for supporting and purple for supplies. Generally, there are only 2 of each card type, so if you happen to draw both you know you’ve denied your enemy.

Some of the battle cards are simple yet amazingly fun and amusing to play: got a card hand of a lot of chaff? Well hope for the peasant battle card, which gains strength for each card in your hand… literally a horde of angry peasants come to fight for your warlord and they’re unlikely to be swept aside!

The supply cards, those troops and specialist forces with the white border, really mix up the focus of the battle. Some, like the archer, will provide a strength bonus if you’re original battle card was strength 7 or lower. The Scout allows you to look at an enemies card hand BEFORE the battle takes place so you can see what they may play, or the Geisha, who presumably disarms your warlord or warriors enough to distract them, removing any special rules text from the card your opponent played.

The land cards are not single point lands, rather they can come with heavy rewards, such as a land card worth 4 points, such as Kyoto. In such battles, often the supply cards can fall fast to try and lever the battle in your warlords favour.

The fact that 12 land points or 3 bridge points can win the game means an opponent can lose sight of the bridges score, allowing you to sneak a victory by capturing all the choke points across feudal Japan.

And it gets better – with the recent Kickstarter completing, the second printing of Martial Art is now complete, with an expansion simply called Battlefields. The Battlefields expansion brings persistent weather effects in the form of land cards, and terrain cards to better exploit your opponent or bolster your own forces. Some of the support cards have also been modified to emphasize the war off-pitch, such as Geisha influences and other nefarious and cunning medieval tactics.

Why did I back this on Kickstarter?

The art. Originally I saw the cards and was entranced by the artwork, which is all taken from historical documents. There’s nothing more atmospheric to a gamer set in feudal Japan than the actual artwork of the time. Colourful, beautiful and utterly alluring, you could spend a fine moment appreciating the detail and energy each picture offers.

That aside, I wanted a game which was quick to play, easy to transport and simple enough for even a novice gamer to pick up and play. Martial Art does this. It took us minutes to understand the concept of the game, and it cost us in headaches and frustration when we realised, one at a time, that we had just played the wrong card, or failed to exploit a weakness.

red and black temple surrounded by trees photo

All that aside, the price tag was good too. To buy the game now, direct from Spider-Goat Games will cost you $22 for both the core and expansion combined (or more if bought separately). I think this is worth it, for a game you can pick up and play in a coffee break with your elderly grandma or novice player.

Can you stretch to get two of each? I think it’s worth it. For a card game it might seem as little expensive, but for a 4 player game of this sort you’re going to get a lot of use. No doubt I’ll update you all at the bottom of this article in a few weeks telling you about the fun times we’re having!

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A nice little side note…

Spider-Goat Games are cool because they have a little blog on their site about their Kickstarter antics, highlighting where they went wrong and what they have learned. For me, this is a great way of touching upon the minds of the gamers because it shows them to be human. We can also all learn from each others mistakes, a concept which we at Creator Consortium are always keen to express.

Extra Points

Martial Art and the Battlefield expansion combine a great game, but even if you can only get the core game, it will keep you going to hours. If you can stretch yourself to get two copies of each, you can battle it out with up to four players. This would make each game last a little longer as each warlord gazes across the table in suspicion. Play some soundtracks from Total War: Shogun or The Last Samurai and you’re at the gates of nerd heaven!

You can buy the card games here.

That’s all from me, let me know what you think.

Did this article help you decide to try it out, or not? We’d love to know!

J.D.Ferris, CC

 

Three complex intro games that you shouldn’t be scared of.

There is certainly an art to choosing the perfect game to introduce your friends to board gaming and many thousands of people all over the internet either insist that they know the best way to do this or cynically offer up the meagre fare of games like Forbidden island or Love letter.

This is fine, if you want to set the expectations of your friends as low as possible and forever have the context of their gaming experience defined by insipid blandness. You may feel as if they need to dip their toe in, like an ill person in a grainy Victorian drama who can only eat dry white toast. I say aim high with the people you care about; Do some research and find a game made from red meat that will truly capture you and your friends’ imaginations. You’ll see that instead of having them come round for a laugh or two at the weekend, you’ll receive a message from them the minute they get home demanding a rematch.

The following is a modest list of my recommendations that truly shows what board games are capable of and opens the doors for groups of any size to become enraptured with the endless possibilities that this hobby has to offer.

strealms 2

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/147020/star-realms

Star Realms places you in a hostile galaxy facing off against your friends in a celestial cold war that will soon turn hot. Use your ever growing deck of cards to exploit, plunder and fight your way to domination. You start with a bare-bones fleet and through subtle use of trade convoys, logistics and fighters, you build up until each player controls a teetering armada pointed square at the other.

The base game is very inexpensive, probably one of the most value-laden propositions open to beginners with small budgets. There’s plenty in the core box and many expansions to it that will add new mechanics and interesting play styles to keep anyone guessing.

netrunner

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/124742/android-netrunner

Netrunner boasts one of the most consistently impressive reputations of the board/tabletop gaming scene. The asymmetrical style of play means that each player will have to think in different worlds while a corporation desperately tries to fend off a futuristic and well-equipped hacker hellbent on pulling the floor out from underneath.

The base game, while easily three times the cost of Star Realms, can be picked up cheaply if you shop around and comes jam-packed full of beautiful cards that allow you to build and revise several different decks of each side so each game can be fresh and challenging as you learn each factions’ strengths and weaknesses and scope out your friends’ strategies.

brage

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170216/blood-rage

Blood rage is the last entry on my list and we’re ramping up the price point here. For the money, this is truly everything that you dream about when it comes to gaming. The box comes chock-full of exceptionally crafted miniatures to be placed on the expansive and busy board. The thick manual will guide you through the process of raising your Viking clan up to dominate the realm of the gods while utilising massive monsters and keen, often devious subjects and strategies that will see the claret flow and friendships strained.

Do you and your friends a favour by bringing them experiences that not only scratch the itch for shiny cardboard, but send them home unable to think of anything else but the bulging box you ceremoniously placed before their widening eyes.

Links to official pages:

Star Realms: https://www.starrealms.com/

Netrunner: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/android-netrunner-the-card-game/

Blood Rage: https://cmon.com/product/blood-rage/blood-rage