The Crimson Company is a band of sellswords, each with their own special abilities. In this duelling two-player game, players are recruiting these mercenaries to fight on their side. The sellsword cards are deployed against one of three castles and their special effect is activated. Some special effects are instantaneous, some apply every turn and some are only activated on scoring. When a player has four sellswords laid in a row against a single castle, then that castle is scored and awarded to the victor. This is a 'best of three' game; won by the player who is awarded two of the three contested castles.
Crimson Company may be a short filler-length game, played with just 30 sellsword cards, but it makes use of some interesting and very effective mechanics. On your turn you can choose from the four face-up cards available to you. You bid for the card you want to acquire by placing that number of coins on that card. The money goes to the bank and the player takes the card. However, if your opponent matches your bid then they get the card but you receive the money (ie: you get their payment plus your money back: doubling the money you bid). It’s an interesting device too that the draw deck is face up, so the players know the next card that will be joining the market.
Although the rules for Crimson Company are very straightforward and very quickly grasped, the interactions between the different card effects make for a highly tactical game. The tussle for dominance in a castle row can be quite tense as players approach the point where that castle will be scored. You’ll find yourself forced to make some quite difficult choices; for example, if you deploy a card that flips a card, you immediately reduce that card’s value to zero but you risk suffering its powerful special ability for a second time if the player is able subsequently to flip it back. And the fact that both players can see the cards that will be available on their next turns – coupled with the possibility that an opponent can bid to ‘steal’ the card you choose – makes this 20-minute duel very much a game of strategy and skill.
Crimson Company is designed by Dario Reinhardt and Fabian Fischer with art by Janna Sophia. We picked up our copy of this game at Spiel 2018 (Essen) but a revised version is launching on Kickstarter. Click here for a link to the campaign page.