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Crayne: Fractured Empire Preview

Designer: Christofer Fielder
Artist: Mathew Burger, Luiz Prado
Publisher: self published
Year Published: Kickstarter February 2021
No. of Players: 2-5
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 30-90 minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: drafting, market, simultaneious action selection

The world of Crayne has always been a dangerous place full of monsters, armies, and madmen.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

From the legions of Demons to the scores of Undead, it is difficult for anyone to survive without some strong help and a capable lord to guide them.

Unfortunately, there are other lords who also want greatness and you must compete with them. How far are you willing to go to protect your people?

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Setup

  1. Distribute Influence – Find a way to keep track of each Lord’s Influence. This can be done using counters, dice or a piece of paper. ln games with three to six players, players start with 60 Influence. ln a two-player game both players start with only 30 Influence. (A Lord’s Influence can never be raised beyond their starting Influence.)
  2. Set Up Auxiliary Draw – Randomly select a number of Factions equal to the number of players +2. Shuffle all the non-basic cards from the selected Factions to form the Auxiliary Draw. Remove the other factions from the game.
  3. Set Up the Pit – Draw six cards from the Auxiliary Draw and put these cards into The Pit.
  4. Set Up Auxiliary Market – Draw a number of cards from the Auxiliary Draw equal to the number of players +3 and place them in the centre of the playing space. These cards are the Auxiliary Market and can be purchased during the Revenue Phase of the game.
  5. Set Up Mercenaries – Next to the Auxiliary Market make two piles of cards for the Mercenaries. Place an amount of Mercenary cards equal to 3x the number of players into one pile and one Mercenary Camp for each player into the other pile. These cards can also be purchased during the Revenue Phase of the game. All of the remaining Mercenary and Mercenary Camp cards are removed from the game.
  6. Distribute Starting Cards – Shuffle the selected Factions’ basic cards together. Distribute four random Basic Faction cards randomly to each Player.
  7. Set Up Player Draw – Each player takes eight Trade Cart cards and shuffles their faction cards with the Trade Carts. This forms their beginning deck. All remaining Basic cards (there will be eight cards left) are removed from the game.
  8. Randomly Decide a First Player – This player is the “Current Lord” for the first Revenue Phase. Give them the Current Lord card.
  9. Begin – Everyone draws three cards from their deck. The game then commences.

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Game Play

Rounds

The players (known as Lords) play in Rounds until all but one Lord is eliminated. Each Round is broken down into four phases:

  1. The Assembly Phase – ln this phase everyone plays one card face down in front of them. Once all Lords are ready, reveal the face-down cards simultaneously and resolve any effects that are written on the cards.
  2. The Attack Phase – Calculate the total amount of Defence from your played cards. This total is your Defence Power; this is the amount of damage you can block. Once you have totalled both your Attack Power and Defence Power it is time to see how much damage you can inflict on your Opponents as well as how much you will receive. Lords who are reduced to zero or less Influence are Eliminated from the game.
  3. The Revenue Phase – During the Revenue Phase Lords take turns to purchase new cards for their decks from the Auxiliary Market. Purchasing starts with the “Current Lord” and advances in a clockwise direction. To purchase new cards, calculate the total amount of Revenue from your played cards. Each card in the Auxiliary Market has a cost value written in the circle at the top of the card.
  4. The Clean-up Phase – The Clean-up Phase begins by enacting any End of Round effects written on played cards. Once these effects take place all played cards are discarded. Move the Current Lord card to the next Lord in a clockwise direction so that next Round a different Lord starts purchasing first. After the Clean-up Phase, a new Round begins.

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End Game

The game ends when all but one Lord is eliminated. If all remaining Lords are eliminated in one Round then the Lord who has the highest (i.e. least negative) Influence total wins. If it is still as draw then you are all losers; Crayne is a cruel place.

First Thoughts

First thought, in all honesty, was ‘Dam, that is a fat sack of cards!’

To the point, I was a little overwhelmed by how many cards there were. Yet, the overwhelming turned to excitement as I flicked through the 231 cards & saw the artwork. The Fantasy theme will always have a soft spot in my heart, as it reminds me of my childhood playing RPGs. And was this an amazing and picturesque world!

I saw all the usual suspects; Dwarves, Orcs, Undead & knights. And though the characters were familiar, the world had so much depth. I couldn’t wait to jump in & be the Lord & saviour for my faction!

Game Play

With Isolation in Melbourne easing, it was nice to be able to call in a few of my favourite friends to play deck builders with. These guys are my go-to for deck builders, as they love to try & break them….. & love to then school me in the game once they’re broken it! Haha

After a quick read of the rules & a few test rounds, we shuffled the cards & the boys were ready to play for sheep stations.

The first thing we notice is how little downtime there was in the first part of the rounds, as everything happens as once with only a few seconds between your next choice. All while focusing on your closest Lords card. All while ensuring you maximise your damage & not forgetting to protect yourself.

As a magic player, I love playing multi-player commander games, it is by far my favourite format. But turns can drag on. To the point, I’ve actually made 4 grilled cheese sandwiches, one for each person at the table, in the time it’s taken to get back to my turn. Crayne: Fractured Empire couldn’t be more different. You barely have the time to take a bite of one.

I love the attack phase & hate it at the same time. I love it because your attacks happen simultaneously & is directed at both Lords sitting to your right & left. So no decided who gets what or ganging up on one opponent. It is simple but a brilliant mechanic that keeps the game flowing quickly & forces you to think outside the box.

The number of times you don’t play as much defence or you are focused on getting money to buy that bomb card. Then BAM blindsided with a massive attack. Andy did that to me almost every game. And that is the reason I hate the stooped attack phase! Nope, I’m not a sore loser! Haha

There was one mechanic that I honestly had never seen before, yet felt so natural that you did it without even thinking. I don’t know if it had an official name, but we nicknamed it “Trash Money.” As you use your discard pile to help get you a discount on the card you buy during the Revenue Phase by matching the symbols on the cards. It is so clever & yet, simple.

I’m pretty lucky & get to play a lot of board games a year, so seeing something new is truly rare & beautifully refreshing. Add to that that it seems to be so familiar like drawing a card or rolling a dice, it is a massive nod to the designer.

 Art

As I said earlier, Crayne: Fractured Empire is a “fat sack of cards.” 231 card is insane & having 4 or 5 of each card is what I expected to find. It makes sense, less cost & enough art to still make the game look great.

This is not the case at all, there are over 100 unique pieces of art & meaning most cards only has a matching pair. It is truly mind-boggling & shows that this game comes from somewhere special. As Krunchy Games have gone the extra mile to make the game they envisioned no matter the cost & it truly shows.

A massive shout out has to go to the artist which hail from around the world. They have managed to come together to blend their styles and cohesively create an amazingly in-depth world.

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Final Thoughts

I’ve had this game for quite a while & I was holding off on playing it. As when I see that many cards in any game I think, quantity over quality. And I have something to admit…. I was so very wrong; this is both quantity & quality. Crayne: Fractured Empire has to be one of the biggest surprises of recent years. As much as I love deck builders, I’ve been turned off them as late as very few hit that spot for me. This has scratched my deck building itch!

Crayne: Fractured Empire is everything I love about deck builders, intelligent mechanic, versatile quick gameplay & amazing replay value all wrapped in an in-depth & stunning fantasy world. If you like deck builder you need Crayne: Fractured Empire in your collection.

Krunchy Games Kickstarter for Crayne: Fractured Empire goes live in the 2nd of February here https://bit.ly/3a2jcWX

DezDoes is part of the Tabletop United Network. Clink the image below to be taken to the Dez Does review site:

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