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Pocket Paragon: Review

 Pocket Paragon: Kickstarter Review

Information:

Mechanics: Hand Management, Set Collection, Pattern Building
Player Age: 13+ 
Player Count: 2 Players
Time to Play: 3 - 15 Minutes 
Game Designer: Brian Mckay
Publisher: Solis Game Studio
BGG Weight: 2.00
Disclaimer: A review copy for the game was provided by the publisher.

Objective:

‘Pocket Paragon’ is a head to head game where players will have a hand of six cards. Each turn players will simultanousley play cards attempting to either reduce their opponent’s health to zero or execute their opponent. To obtain these objectives you must plan ahead to play a weapon while your opponent plays a rest. If you are taken out early then don’t stress it, you will have a chance at vengeance as there will be three matches altogether. The player  with majority after three matches is the winner. 

Card Anatomy:

There are characters available who are suitable for different game difficulties (e.g. basic, advanced, expert). Every character will have their own version of the following cards with slightly varied abilities and damage. Any numerical value in the middle of the card is the damage that the attack will do when successful.

Counter Cards:

There are three cards that will work like rock, paper, scissors. The orange will counter the blue, the blue will counter the green and the green will counter the orange. This is shown on the bottom left of these cards. If a card is countered it will return to the players hand and give the owner of that countered card one energy.

Character Card:

This first card will introduce you to the strategy that this character excels at. Such as Poppet, ELL-000 who hits with powerful attacks but will constantly damage herself at the same time, or Mr F who boosts his next attack when he rests so planning your attackers with him can be very important. This is the card that will also explain how difficult they are to play: basic, advanced and expert.

Weapon and Rest:

The game begins with all cards in the player’s hand. Whenever a player successfully plays a card it will move into an exhausted pile out of hand. To get those cards back the player will need to rest, which will essentially skip their turn to draw any exhausted cards back into their hand. Take caution though as your opponent may play a weapon card on the same round that you play a rest which will result in your execution from this match.

Block:

If you believe your opponent is planning a strong  attack, you can play your block to stop all the incoming damage (does not apply to unblock-able damage). Some blocks will give you an extra bonus such as dealing damage back to your opponent.

Ultimate Abilities:

There are two types of cards called ‘ultimates’: the passive and the ability. Both of these will use the energy you receive by being countered. The passive will activate when you spend the energy cost on the bottom left of the card and will remain in effect for the rest of the match. The ability ultimate will go into your hand when you spend the energy cost to play on a future round. When played these will either be removed from the match or will return beside your character, ready to have the energy paid to be placed back in your hand. Each character has an ultimate and their special rules will depend on that character.

Setup:

- Each player picks a character.

- Set each player’s health to 10 and energy to 0.

- Place the character card and ultimate card in front of each player, the remainder of the cards will create their hand.

How to Play:

Each player simultanousley selects a card from their hand to be revealed at the same time. If any card is countered it will return to that players hand and they will gain one energy. After the possible counter step the damage and effects will resolve then the card will go to that players exhausted pile. This will continue until one player has successfully won the match. 

There is an advanced way to play called ‘tournament’ where each player will select three characters to create a team. Whenever one of their character dies they will move on to the next character. The interesting part of this is that the next character will swap one of their cards for the same type of card from the previous character. For the third character they will receive the card that was transferred between the first two characters and the new card swap. Only cards that do not have a crossed out symbol on the top right can be passed on to the next character. This creates unique aspects of team building for players to explore.

Final Thoughts:

Pros:

- Unique and interesting characters. 

- Successfully creates an environment where you are trying to read your opponent but hide your own intentions. 

- The character cards give a brief explanation and a difficulty.

- Advanced play creates an interesting dynamic for replayability.

- Each character only has seven cards to learn and understand.

First and foremost Pocket Paragon receives a Kickstarter seal of excellence. This will be a game that I will back myself as I am intrigued by the characters and their various play. The game is simple to teach and leaves plenty of room for decisions. The game’s main draw is trying to successfully anticipate your opponents moves so you can counter their cards, or purposefully try to be countered yourself if you want the energy. Both execution and depleting opponent’s health seem like equally balanced options to win. If you enjoy games that emulate fighting games but is quick and varied then this will be one to back. You get to strategically plan your turns and try to read your opponent in a game that last no longer than five minutes per match. I only got to play with six characters but the creators plan is to have much more available with the complete Kickstarter package.

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