Designer: Brennan Kahl, Nick Brown, and Jack Collins
Artist: Jack Collins
Publisher: Peasant Mob Games
Year Published: projected 2021
No. of Players: 2–4
Ages: 14+ (I believe this could be lower 12+ or 10+)
Playing Time: 20–60 minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Card battling (War), draw and play, set building / The kingdoms are at war
The attack has begun, and the call goes out for Reinforcements!
Find more information at the Reinforcements website.
Reinforcements is a variation of the traditional card game War. The design to Reinforcements provides more options and a chance of shifting the overall battle into a new direction. This gives every player a chance, without feeling overwhelmed because one player started with the aces.
I received a prototype copy of Reinforcements from the publisher for review purposes.
Gameplay and Mechanisms
I played Reinforcements with a couple of others, and we found it easy to learn. You win by being the only player with cards left on the table. It is a simple concept that involves strategy in the planning of how you choose your action on your turn.
Each person starts with a hand of five cards. The cards are made up of three Kingdoms (suits) and the range in power. There are more weak cards than strong ones. The remaining cards create a draw pile. Near the draw pile you should place the four Totems, more on those later.
Choose three cards from your hand to play face down in front of you. You can look at them, and eventually they will be revealed, but the other players won’t know what they are—yet. These three cards are the beginning of your Stacks. Each Stack is a representation of a Kingdom.
The three Kingdoms represent barrage, adapt, and fortify. Each stack can only be of one color (there is no other requirement when building a stack). You can have more than one stack of the same color. You might decide that’s a good way to start or one of each.
Out of the two remaining cards, choose one and let the war begin. The highest-power card played goes first. If there is a tie, the name of the game is taken up. You are urged to yell “Reinforcements!” every time there is a tie. In the case of starting play, the player who yells first with the most enthusiasm is the first to take their turn.
On your turn, you draw your hand back up to five cards. Then you decide on one of three possible actions: defend, attack, or discard.
Defending allows you to add a card to one of your Stacks. It must be the same color and you can look to check. If it is only the second card of the Stack, it is also placed face down. With the placement of a third card in a Stack, the three cards are turned over so all players can see what the Stack is made of. The Stack remains revealed for the rest of the game. Revealing a Stack grants you the start of a new hidden Stack.
Attacking is playing a card from your hand against the defending card of another player. The card strengths are compared, and the higher card wins the battle. If there is a tie, the call “Reinforcements!” echoes from the chamber walls. The defender draws a card from the top of the draw pile, then the attacker. The cards are compared in the same way until a winner is determined. When a winner is decided, the difference in the numbers carries on to the next defending card when the attacker wins. A single strong attacking card can take out an entire Stack.
Discarding allows you to discard as many cards from your hand as you want. If you discard five peasants (ones), they form a Mob with a special action.
Extra Turn Actions
Each Kingdom allows a passive and a main action. These actions are granted when a Stack is revealed to show which Kingdom is represented. The Kingdom actions allow you to attack differently, defend with an additional card, and have a bigger hand while adjusting the order of the cards in your Stacks.
The Totems are earned by having more than one revealed Stack of the same Kingdom, or one of each Kingdom. Each Totem also has a special one-time action you can use. The Totem is returned to the center of the table when it is used and must be earned again. The Totems are limited to one for each Kingdom and the combination of all three. If another player is holding a Totem, you can’t steal it away from them. You have to wait until it is used and then earn it by meeting the requirements.
Besides the Mob, there are Assassins and Mages that have special actions. With these three attacks even the most powerful Monarch (7) is still vulnerable.
Keep taking turns until only one player has cards left on the table.
Inclusivity and Accessibility
In the design of Reinforcements, it is clear the look of the cards was taken into consideration. The three Kingdoms are different colors, but they also have different symbols and banners in the corners for those who have colorblindness.
Reinforcements has a good balance of play. With the limited hand size and tiebreakers being pulled from the draw pile, one player doesn’t get an overwhelming advantage. The use of the special attacks means there is still a chance of coming back, but it does get harder. However, with the right draw of cards to fill your hand, the tides of war can shift quickly.
Reinforcements provides a better balance and more opportunities than its classic starting point. The additions give it a fun feel while being played with a lot of conversation and banter. That is the direction our game took.
The age on the prototype is listed at 14+. I think it could easily be played by younger players. You can build more strategy into your defense and attack, but you can also toss your hand and see what comes up on your next turn. You also aren’t relying on the cards you hold in your hand for tiebreakers making the planning easier.
I recommend Reinforcements for players looking for a game that is easy to learn and quick to get playing. The size of roughly a double deck of regular playing cards makes it easy to transport. The spread that can develop during the game might make it a little less friendly for a cabin game.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.com.