Game: Swordcrafters: Expanded Edition
Designer: Chris Neuman (II), Adam Rehberg
Published: Adam’s Apple Games
Playtime: 25-35 Minutes
Play Type: Tile Drafting/ Set Collection
You will be competing against your fellow blacksmiths to forge the best sword in the realms. There are many things to consider while crafting a magnificent sword, including length, quality and magical capabilities. Your goal is to forge the Sword of Protection as strongly as possible so that it can hold up to defending the realms. Only one black smith may hold this honor.
Set-up for Swordcrafters is a fairly simple process. Each player will take a sword pommel of their choice, along with the matching color marker for the scoreboard. Players will then decide if they want to play with just the base game, some of the additional modules or all of the additional modules. Lets take a closer look at what each of the modules do:
Sword Magic Cards: This module comes in the base game. When using the Sword Magic Cards, players will select three of the cards to place out for everyone to see at the beginning of the the game. Players will use these cards at the end of the game to score. When scoring, players will count all of the gems that have matching the gems on the card from all sides. The player will the most will get the largest number on the card, the second most will get the second largest, and the third largest number will get the third most points.
Sword Relic Cards: Players will add four of these tiles to the grid of sword parts at the beginning of each round. There are 8 kinds of tiles that either give the player who selects a one time use advantage or a scoring benefit at the end of the game. Only four of the eight tiles will be used at any given time.
Sword Tips: These give players another option for scoring points at the end of the game. Each player is given two tips at the beginning of the game. They give players an individual goal to reach for. If players have the proper number of gems on a corresponding side, they may gain points equal to the number listed on the sword. Each tip may be scored once.
Sword Mastery: These cards are set out as a fourth phase in game play. If a player has a the relevant gems on a card adjecent to one another, they are able to take the Sword Mastery Card. These cards give a victory point benefit at the end of game play. Players may only take one Sword Mastery card per turn.
Once players have decided what modules to use, they put the appropriate cards and tiles into play. Then players will set a grid of tiles out in the center of the table. The number of tiles will depend on whether players are playing with the Relic Cards expansion, and how many players are playing. The grid will be a mix of sword tiles, Relic Cards, and the first player token.
Players will then take turns making a cut to the grid in the center of the table. Each person will make a single cut either horizontally or vertically that splits one of the existing groups into two separate groups. This action starts with the first player, and then travels around the table until each player has made one cut.
Then starting with the first player, each player will select one of the groups on the table and take all tiles in that group. There will always be one group of tiles not taken. Return those tiles to the game box. Then the first player token is handed to the player who took the first player tile. If not player took the first player tile, it rotates one space clockwise to the next player.
After all players have selected their group they will assemble their swords. This action can be done simultaneously. Players may place their tiles in any order they see fit, but they must place all tiles on their sword. After this phase, players will either continue on to the Sword Mastery phase, or reset the board for the next round.
Once the grid has been reset, players will continue to repeat this process until six rounds have passed. After six rounds, players will go to scoring.
During scoring, players will first see who has the longest sword. The player with the longest sword will gain 6 victory points. In the case of a tie, all players who tied gain 6 victory points. Then players will see who has the best quality. This is determined by having gems of the same color adjacent on one side. In order to score points for quality, the player must have two or more gems of the same color adjacent on one side of their sword. Each gem that is adjacent would be worth two points. Finally players would score any modules that they are choosing to use for the game. The player with the most victory points is the winner.
The components in the box are all very well made. It is clear that Adam’s Apple Games thought about the fact that the game includes the tiles interlocking, which is hard on the cardboard tiles. The tiles are made of thick cardboard, and they easily go together and come apart, but are sturdy when they are interlocked. No swords fell apart during our game play. Even with the sturdy material used though, I would still be concerned with whether the game will hold up against long term wear and tear.
The tiles themselves are very simple in art style, including a sword backdrop and a colored gem in the center. Players who are color blind will be happy to hear that the colored gems also have unique shapes, making the game color blind accessible.
My only complaint about the components is the insert that is included for the tiles. It can be very difficult to get everything back in the box in an organized manner, and despite the fact that the insert is labeled explaining where things go, it just doesn’t seem to fit quite right. I would have liked to see the box be just slightly bigger with a more structurally sound insert to help keep everything organized.
- Quick Game Play
- Adjustable Difficulty
- Easy to Teach
- Great Table Presence
- Encourages Long Term Thinking
- Various Goals/ Strategies
- Solo Mode
- Difficult to Fit Pieces in the Insert
- Long-term Durability Concerns
Swordcrafters provides players with unique game play in an aesthetically pleasing way. The variety of mechanics in Swordcrafters was without a doubt my favorite part of this game. It seemlessly blended “I split, you choose” with set collection, tile drafting and pattern building. These combination of mechanics forces players to consider carefully how they cut the tiles in order to gain the most beneficial tiles for their sword.
While considering this, players also must keep in mind the more puzzle like aspects of the game. It is easy to forget during game play that players may not be able to place each tile exactly where they want because the sword is 3-D and has four sides that must be built up between layers. I have seen many players call out in excitement to get a certain color gem, only to realize they won’t be able to place it where they originally hoped. This forces players to think multiple turns in advance and consider each side individually.
Despite this, the game is extremely easy to explain to new gamers. When using just the base game and the magic cards I could easily see this game being a gateway game for new gamers. If players purchase the expanded edition, they also have the option to slowly make the game more difficult as they feel more comfortable with it. The ability to customize each game also gives it a lot of re-playability. Each of the different modules also provides different strategies and thus different ways to win.
As an educator, I could easily see bringing this game into my classroom for my students to play. The mechanics are simple, yet the table presence is strong enough to keep the interest of children. I could easily see teaching this game to children as young as seven or eight. It could make a great game for families trying to get younger children to the table because of its simple mechanics and quick game play.
Overall my favorite thing about this game is its flexibility. It can be used in a variety of gaming situations. It can be played solo, with families, with new gamers, and with seasoned gamers a like just by making simple adjustments to the modules in play. Beyond that, it is unlike anything else on the market right now. Th mixture of mechanics combined with the aspect of physically building the sword is both incredibly satisfying and thematically fitting.
If you enjoy tile drafting games Tsuro, Carcassonne or Kingdomino, you may enjoy Swordcrafters. I would also suggest Swordcrafters if you are looking for an “I split, you choose” game with a little more table presence. It has a similar feel to Piece O Cake or Animals on Board, and in some ways feels similar to games like Isle of Skye or Castles of the Mad King Ludwig. Players must constantly be considering what they are willing to give up to keep a certain tile or section of tiles. Swordcrafters is definitely a stand out among the filler games I have purchased this year, and I would definitely suggest it to anyone looking to add a unique twist to their collection.