Have you noticed that small text in the left hand corner of my blog? (Made you look didn’t I?) It actually says Michel’s Book/Boardgame/Movie review blog. One would almost forget that I love boardgames too, as my last post on a boardgame dates back to the beginning of this year. So, it’s time to change that and do a new review for a small but fun little dice game based on the popular anime Sword Art Online. And this one is for Rose (go check out her awesome blog if you haven’t already!) as I promised her this post quite a while back. Sorry it took me some time to finally get this one done, but hey I usually always try to keep my promises. On the box it says this is a boardgame, but quite honestly I think this is much more a dice game than a boardgame. But whatever label you put on this, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a fun game and one that you will like especially if you enjoyed the first season of the anime. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this, Sword Art Online takes place in 2022 where a popular virtual reality game is introduced to the world. However something goes horribly wrong and all the players become trapped in the game. And dying in the videogame, means dying in the real world as well. With that cheery note done, let’s go check out what we have here!
Even though this is a pretty small box, I have to say that it contains a lot of pretty cool stuff. The first thing to notice are the awesome (and very cute) special dice that are included. I have made an enlarged picture for you guys down below, so you can see them better. Yes those totally are the faces of a couple of the main characters of the anime. We have six of them in this game, and of course Kirito and Asuna are amongst them. The characters themselves are depicted on six oversized cards that provide information you will need during the game. We then have nine item cards that showcase some things that will help you as the game progresses. Also included are some tokens, cards that represent the dangers you will face during the game, and of course the set would not be complete without a rules booklet. I honestly have to say that it isn’t the best rules guide ever written, but it does pretty much get the job done for the most part. All in all the components are very decent, and bring the anime to life in a good way.
So, how does this game work? Basically it has you take on the role of one of the characters from the anime and fight your way through, all the way to the top level of Aincrad. The weapons at your disposal are dice. Yes, they won’t really do much damage in real life (unless you throw them at someone that you don’t like really hard and really fast), but in this game they are your offensive weapons. Depending on which character you choose, you have special attack paterns which you use to defeat the enemies of the floor you are currently on. You have three floors to get through in total until you reach the final boss. Whenever you clear a floor, the characters level up and get more powerful skills at their disposal. But that of course also means that on the next floor the enemies become more powerful, so you will need those newly acquired skills. This is pretty much what they call a “push your luck” dicegame, though it also requires a bit of strategy.
To defeat the enemies on a floor you roll the dice and compare them to your character card. Different combinations cause different levels of damage. So it is up to you to decide which attacks to use agains the current enemy. You are allowed to re-roll your dice two times and that’s where the challenge lies. Are you happy with the current results, or will you try to re-roll hoping for a better and higher level of damage? Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget the enemies fight back too. And when they cause enough damage to you, you die and the game is over. The fun thing is you can chain your attacks with other characters (in a solo game you play two characters at the same time) to cause even more damage…..if you are lucky. The game continues until either one of the player characters die, or the final floor is reached and the ultimate boss is destroyed.
This game is not the most difficult one to learn, but it will take a bit of time to figure out exactly how everything works. The hardest thing really is to determine when to use which attack. Sometimes it can be a good thing to use a relatively easy dice roll in order to cause a low level damage attack. But then again, that won’t win you the game, so there are also times when you just have to take some risks. Winning the game is not easy, but it’s also not impossible. Of course with dice a lot of luck is involved, but I also liked the fact that the game encourages you to use some strategy. I found myself thinking a lot in this game calculating what to do, how much damage I could still take and maybe use a stronger attack in a later turn. With some trial and error pretty much everyone will be able to conquer this game, and learn it’s many secrets.
This is just one of those quick games that you can pick up and play whenever you have some time to waste. I loved the fact that this game really managed to capture the heart and soul of the anime. As you play through the scenarios and encounter some of the enemies and situations that Kirito and his friends found themselves in, I really felt myself thinking back to how much I loved the anime. It’s not for the first time that I really have this huge urge in me to rewatch the anime, seeing as I am a huge fan and haven’t even written a review for any of it’s seasons on my blog. But…that is a story for another time. Sword of Fellows is a fun little game that can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who haven’t seen the anime. The dicerolling mechanics work well, and it has quite a bit of replayability too as the floors are randomised each time you play the game.Each game takes about 30 minutes to play, and set up time is minimal. It will probably not be a game that you will pick up each day, but it is one that will return to the table quite a few times whenever you have some time to spare. So…..LINK START!!
I give Sword Art Online: Sword of Fellows a 8 out of 10 score.