Updated: Jun 15
Published by Reaper Comics, ALIE is an easy-to-play card game that takes the Top Trumps mechanic and gives it a couple of neat extra twists.
The game comprises a deck of 40 character cards and a dozen 'Eye of Truth' cards. These all sport art by Hal Laren and are printed on shiny card which adds to the game's appeal. On one side, the character cards display art showing the character or tech, its attack and defence add ons and any special ability. The other side displays five characteristics: Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Honour and Temper. Beside each characteristic is a number. Players each start with 10 character cards and three 'Eye of Truth' cards. They are trying to win other players' character cards by beating them in a selected trait, subject to modifiers on the cards.
As in Top Trumps, the 'attacker' (active player) selects one of the five characteristics and calls out the number for that trait. Unlike Top Trumps, the player can lie about the number... This alone adds enormously to the vanilla Top Trumps experience. Players have the opportunity to bluff or double-bluff. Lying and calling out a lie are not without risk: a correctly called out lie will cost the liar one of their 'Eye of Truth' cards. Similarly, incorrectly calling out a lie will cost the challenger an 'Eye of Truth' card. These cards are a precious currency in ALIE: you start with just three apiece and it's game over if your supply ever hits zero.
So that's the resolution of one side of the card, but you also have to take account of the flip side - the side with the character illustration on it. The character cards each show the numbers to be added to the card's attack and defences in addition to a die roll. And just to add further to the mayhem, players also get a 50% chance to activate the special ability on their card. If you're the attacker, you get the option to activate your attacking card's special ability if you roll an even number; the defender can activate the ability on their card if they roll an odd number.
This all makes for a lively, if often chaotic game. The skill element is really limited to the Lie/Don't Lie bluffery but this die-rolling Top Trumps variant is no less fun for its reliance on luck. And it's a short game that's unlikely ever to outstay its welcome.
ALIE is playable as a three- or four-player game but it's at its best as a two-player filler-length duelling game. At Board's Eye View we've been playing a preview prototype ahead of the game's launch on Kickstarter. The KS campaign is live now. You can check it out by clicking here.