Updated: Oct 24
Designed by Stepan Stefanik and published by Greiferisto, RONE (the acronym stands for Races of New Era) joins the Collectible Card Game (CCG) genre vying for space alongside the old giant Magic: The Gathering (Wizards of the Coast) and new giant KeyForge (FFG) but with the twist that everything you could ever need is included in the one box (plus a small expansion). This 'second edition' updates the original 2016 core game and incorporates that first edition's New Forces and Awakening expansions.
Even if you find the theme irrelevant (war in a post-apocalyptic world etc), the artwork (by Rastislav Kubovic) is very apt and certainly won’t distract you from diving straight in.
The combatants start with a hero (giving unique abilities for a bit of asymmetry) and a 24-card deck (drawn from about 300, half of which are unique), and then proceed to attempt to destroy their opponent. A player’s deck is their life: if your hero is attacked, you discard from your hand or deck into your graveyard, and if you run out of cards you’ve lost. There’s an interesting twist in that cards from your graveyard can be ‘recycled’, bringing them back into play, but only at the cost of other cards from your graveyard. This means that the more damage you take, the more you can bring cards back out! Also, it is impossible to gain more life than you started with, so games can’t go on forever.
There’s a lot to like about this game. Combat is streamlined, with the attacker choosing what to attack rather than the defender choosing what to block with. Powerful combos are possible, but not infinite loops. There are three levels of cards but in order to play the higher two you must level-up your hero, which requires a big investment of resources. This means that the timing of decisions like that are vital. Deciding when and how to use ‘technologies’ adds another interesting dimension, though the advice in the rules to leave them out of your initial learning games is sensible.
The rulebook might seem like a gruelling read, with a lot of text to get through, but the worked examples of complicated situations are very helpful. The rules are well thought-through and comprehensive but, since the cards are generally clear enough anyway, you can get started very quickly with just a simple overview – especially if you’re already familiar with comparable games. Playing random selections of 24 cards against each other each is great fun, and the scope for setting up pre-set decks from the cards available provides endless opportunities for meta-strategising without the usual CCG need to chase after expensive individual cards.
This second edition game seems to be 75% recycled and 25% new, and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but I really did! It seems to take what’s best from every game of its type and add some excellent new features, making each decision and every game exciting from start to finish. Whether you’re looking for an introduction to CCGs or the next step in the evolution of the genre, you need look no further than RONE. (Review by Matt Young)
And you can check out the Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.