Build Your Deck to Save
the City of Myrkesh
Designer: Mark Wilson
Publisher: Grindstone Games / Dragon Egg Games
Year Published / Kickstarted: 2023
No. of Players: 5
Playing Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Deckbuilding
Defend the city of Myrkesh from an unknown threat by allying yourself with the various districts to gain the most prestige and call yourself the savior and hero of Myrkesh!
Disclaimer: The publisher provided a prototype of the game for this review.
The divided city of Myrkesh must band together to fight against a common foe. Your job is to defeat this new threat by gaining prestige by defeating the monster. However, there is more than one way to gain prestige as you visit the various districts and recruit allies. The five districts provide distinct advantages as you face the coming darkness. Will you find yourself gaining new cards from Merchant’s row allowing you to gain cards more easily? Can you align yourself with the Royal Courts to protect yourself from disruption and gain prestige through the royalty there? Seek out those in the Industrial Grounds will help you draw more cards and use those cards in unique ways. Meanwhile, seeking to use the power of the undercity means you undermine your opponent’s allies before they take action. Lastly, if raw unforgiving power is your choice of winning, join forces with the Wilds to unleash raw power against your enemies. Whatever you choose, you must decide which district of Myrkesh you’ll align with to gain allies, defeat the monster, or spread your influence across the city? The player with the most prestige when the monster is defeated will be considered the winner.
Gameplay and mechanics:
City of Myrkesh is a deck building game and all players start with a deck of 10 cards which are identical among all the players. Players begin the game with five random cards from their deck. In addition, players are represented by their own player pieces which are moved around the board during the action phase..
A turn consists of two phases- an Action Phase and an End of Turn Phase. The action phase is where you make most of your interesting choices, which include buying new cards to add to your deck, playing cards horizontally, moving your playing piece, attacking the monster that’s threatening the city, or play a card vertically.
Interestingly, playing a card vertically or horizontally provides different actions. Playing a card vertically allows you to use the card effects as read from top to bottom. Playing a card horizontally gives you a single movement for your character piece.
Both horizontal and vertical cards played into districts count towards triggering allies.
To buy cards, your player piece must be in a space that allows you to buy- arrows show which cards are available from your space. You’ll need coins which are gained from played cards to buy new cards. Key note here, you replace cards only during the End of Turn phase.
To attack the invading monster, you must move your player piece to a space with a red arrow and have at least one power. Attacking the monsters involved checking armor, doing damage, collecting blue prestige, gaining wounds or negative effects, checking for destroyed areas of the city via rubble tokens and managing the crowds in that area, and finally, rotating the monster towards the area it was attacked from if you draw it’s ire.
After all actions are complete, the End of Turn Phase begins- All resources are lost and all active cards are moved to the discard pile. In addition, players draw cards back to their hand size and replace any empty card spots in the city revealing appropriate cards.
Play proceeds to the next player who follows the steps above until the end game is triggered when all of the blue prestige tokens are removed from the monster and all players have had an equal number of turns.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout (optional)
The artwork is lovely and vibrant and showcases what this setting is about. The city of Myrkesh and its inhabitants as well as the invading monster. The prototype that was sent included a three-headed hydra miniature which holds the table presence beautifully. Some of the artwork is a bit small and hard to identify, but, it doesn't take away from the gameplay. In fact, I found myself looking at various cards just for the artwork. The theme of the five districts with various allies and cards fits well with the idea that you need to move through the various districts from which to collect cards. Having the city fall apart around you (the rubble token) to the citizens being pushed and scared away during an attack is unique but adds greatly to the theme of danger and of the city falling to the monster.
Inclusivity and Accessibility:
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The prototype provided didn’t include any oversexualized or sensual images that sometimes show up in board game art. Since this is a prototype, the quality of the print and artwork is sure to improve. This prototype had few issues with readability- the size of the print and the chosen style and font were readable. As a color-blind board gamer, I’m always cognizant of colors and how hard it is to distinguish player tokens and colors. For example, the resource markers in this prototype include clear, red, yellow, and green plastic tokens. I had a hard time distinguishing between the green and yellow tokens. However, my two children did NOT have any difficulty identifying the colors during gameplay.
I personally enjoy deckbuilding games and love to see how the mechanic expands and evolves in different games. Removing the “market” and putting the different cards into different city areas works well and makes moving your player piece an important decision. Where do I move my player piece next? What type of cards am I looking at adding to my deck? Am I ready to fight the monster or should I move to a different location? All of these choices add to an interesting combination of deck building and player choice.
City of Myrkesh is a welcome game to the deckbuilding genre. With the unique mechanics of playing cards sideways to give your tokens movement points to distributing the market cards into different city districts. You’ve got choices to be made in order to win the game. It’s not overly difficult- I don’t think this is a “heavy” game, but, it does provide enough decisions to make the game enjoyable and challenging to play with a group of seasoned gamers. People who enjoy seeing how deck building mechanics work in different games will enjoy this one. Other games, such as Tyrants of the Underdark, might fall in the same level of difficulty and decisions space that work with deckbuilding.
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