Designer: Brennan Kahl, Nick Brown, Jack Collins
Artist: Jack Collins
Publisher: Peasant Mob
Year Published: 2021?
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 20-60min
Main mechanic / Theme: Set Collection / Medieval Warfare
“REINFORCEMENTS!!!” Each player MUST yell this when a tie occurs.
This rule is non nogotiable.
Note: I was provided a prototype copy of this game for the purposes of this unbiased review. All art and components are subject to change.
From the Publisher: Build your army. Crush your friends. Inspired by the classic card game War. REINFORCEMENTS combines fun and simplicity with elements of strategy and planning. Build up your army to unlock more actions and summon the mythical Totems that embody the kingdoms of the realm. Barrage your foes, Fortify your Army, or Adapt to the situation at hand. Every move matters as you try to be the last Kingdom standing. Do you have what it takes?
My take: Reinforcements is a fast-paced card game that really tests your wits. You have to be careful that you don't lose too many stacks or you can be in hot water pretty quickly and if your opponent has several special cards in hand, you are in some trouble. It's a fun game and I definitely get the inspiration from the classic War card game but it actually combines that basic premise with a strategic card game where you have to outwit your opponent in order to survive.
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
In the game you will be starting with a handful of five cards and three face-down Foundations (selected during setup). On your turn, you can do one of three things: use a card in your hand to Attack the lead card in one of your opponents "stacks", Defend your foundations by adding a card that matches the suit of that foundation from your hand to the "stack", or Discard as many cards from your hand as you want (you will fill back up to begin your next turn.) Once you add a third card to a stack, that stack is turned face up and you draw a card from the top of the draw pile to start a new foundation. Having a faceup stack will give you a bonus depending on the suit. A faceup stack of Blue cards allows you to Fortify which lets you take an additional Defend action on your turn if you have a blue card in hand that you can place. A faceup stack of Red cards allows you to Barrage your opponent by allowing you and additional attack on your opponent each turn if you have a red card in hand. Finally, a faceup green stack gives you the ability to Adapt by either swapping a green card from your hand with a green card from the stack or swapping the position of two of the green cards in your faceup stack. Each color of stack that is face up grants you these abilities, so they can add up quickly and each color that's face up also gives you a passive ability: blue - your blue stacks may now have 4 cards instead of just 3, red - red cards that attack or Barrage automatically win all ties, green - your hand size increases by 1 for every faceup green stack in your army. Cards range in value from 1-7 and it's a basic war mechanic that higher card beats lower card, however if you win a battle (i.e. your six beats your opponents' two) any extra points carry on to the next card in the line (in the example you would have four points left to face whatever card was next in line.) If there is a tie both players enthusistically yell “REINFORCEMENTS!!!” Each player MUST yell this when a tie occurs. This rule is non nogotiable. I don't make this stuff up, it is written in the rules! What happens then, in true War fashion, is players draw the top card off of the draw pile and flip them until the battle is resolved. There are also some special cards that truly mess things up (Assassins, Mages, and mobs of Peasants) and if you flip two stacks of one color or one stack of each color (three stacks in total) one of the Totems will visit you and provide a special power. But you have to use it before an opponent completes their requirement and steals the Totem from you.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout
The artwork for this game is very graphic in nature and the colors are bright. The illustrations are fairly simple but do a good job of depicting what the artist is trying to convey. Overall, I like the look and feel of this game. It is simple, direct and the style fits the theme. The layout of the cards also lends to making them easily readable and it is very easiy to determine the value and suit of the cards.
Inclusivity and Accessibility:
Tabletop United believes that diversity is a source of fun and happiness. Nurturing and celebrating our personal differences can lead to amazing gaming (and life) experiences. Therefore, TTU is putting renewed emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility by adding a section in each of our reviews written after April 2021. You’ll begin to see more reviews with this section as time goes on. The inclusivity and accessibility section will critique those issues and strengths of the subject in the review based upon the unique background of the reviewer. Each reviewer views the world through their own particular lens and has a wide and varied experience from which they will write and review from.
There is a good attempt in this game to be inclusive on the gender spectrum as there are male and female characters in each suit and at the different card powers (when gender can be determined at all.) The three armies (represented by the three different colored suits) appear to be racially/ethnically different from one another with slightly different skin tones and manners of dress. However, all three armies seem to all be of lighter skin tones leaning towards caucasian and there is very little obvious reference to ethnicity besides in a couple of instances.
As I am a person that does not have a severe sight impariment or have any color blindedness, I can only speak from my own observations on accessibility in those areas. However I think that the designers did do a good job of making the card values easy to discern and the suits easily identifiable by both color and a distinct symbol in both the upper and lower corners of each card. Cards contain very little meaningful text and those that do are easy to identify what they are once you know the cards ability.
Overall, I liked this game. It's a nice short game that I can see as an opener or closer on game night or as a time filler in between heavier fare. The competitive nature of the game and the strategy required to be successful make this a lighter game that has some meaty decision making. Be wary though, if your opponent has a good early draw and is able to take out a column or two of yours early, it can lead to your hands being quickly tied and a very quick endgame. There is a luck element to this game, as in many games where one of the main mechanisms is drawing from a deck of cards, but paired with the strategy and skill that it takes to successfully fend off and defeat your opponent, the luck factor is rarely that much of a deterrent. Once you get your engine rolling and are getting bonuses and the idol cards in play, the game really shines and it is indeed quite fun! It's a very portable card game that's easy to play in limited space andn limited time that I think a lot of people will enjoy getting to the table regularly.
Keep an eye out! This game will be available on Kickstarter soon!
Stefan Yates is a professional in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Kansas State University. Finding ways to work gaming into work, he serves on the university’s Alternate Reality Game Committee and is a co-Faculty Advisor for the Board Game Club. He is also a PhD student whose field of research is Gamification in Student Programming. He enjoys playing (and mostly losing) almost any type of game and likes to work in multiple game sessions per week whenever possible. An avid solo gamer with an additional interest in tabletop miniatures games, the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic were not particularly concerning as there was always painting to do and terrain to build. Stefan is also a book and movie collector and a huge NFL football fan (go CHIEFS!)