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Tidal Blades: Banner Festival

If you’re expecting Tidal Blades: Banner Festival to be an expansion for or sequel to the original Tidal Blades game from Druid City and Skybound, you will be in for a surprise. Tidal Blades: Banner Festival is a completely different standalone game. It’s nothing like Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef - it's only links are that it is notionally set in the same universe and the art shares the palette of Lina Cossette (aka Mr Cuddington). We say ‘surprise’ rather than disappointment because Banner Festival may not be much like the original Tidal Blades but it is nonetheless a jolly good game!

At its heart, Lucky Duck’s Tidal Blades: Banner Festival is a card game. It’s designed by J B Howell and Michael Mihealsick. The 2-5 players will be playing their hands of cards as tricks, tho’ this isn’t a trick-taking game in the conventional sense...

The cards are numbered 1-9 in four colours, and the ranking of the colours varies according to the position of the gate marker on the game’s circular board. Players are also moving around the board because for every circuit they complete, they get to flip a card from their individual countdown decks. These will give them victory points as well as the possibility of earning additional points if they manage to land on a specific location before their next circuit.

For each ‘trick’, players play their card face down so that they are simultaneously revealed. If you played the highest card, you get to advance your playing piece to the position of the gate. If you played the lowest ranking card, you get to implement the text on the card. For cards in the middle (ie: neither the highest or lowest) you get to place out banners in the quadrant in which the gate is located. The game is played over three rounds (hands) and at the end of each, there are points to be won for area control of each quadrant. Additionally, there are points to be won for collecting the most fruit – dished out for some cards and at banner locations.

So Tidal Blades: Banner Festival is a card game with both set collection and area control elements. There’s strategy in deciding what ‘tricks’ you most want to win or rank lowest in, so this is a hand management game, but mostly you can’t be sure that you’re playing the highest or lowest card so there’s also a push-your-luck element. That’s particularly the case where you’re hoping your card is in the middle so that you get to place out a banner. But tho’ there’s scope for strategic planning, Banner Festival is a light accessible game that can be enjoyed by all the family.

From our Board’s Eye View plays, we prefer the game with four or five players because if you play with just two or three then you have to incorporate a dummy player. If you play with a dummy that reveals before the other players select their cards, it makes for a still interesting game but you can expect the additional information to alter the dynamics of play…

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