04 September 2022
Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances isn’t the game I thought it would be. Based on a mobile game (in itself a concern, as previous mobile to tabletop translations have been arguably forgettable), it sees Disney and Pixar characters fight against each other in a bid for micro transactions – no sorry, I mean resources to unlock new characters and upgrade your own – in my 18 months of playing it, it never screamed “this should be on tabletop” to me. Delightfully, it turns out I simply wasn’t listening.
Epic Alliances takes all of the above core factors – creating a totally unique team using Disney and Pixar characters and fighting them against each other in unexpected mashups – and makes them into an easy to learn, quick, and frankly really fun skirmish game. As you play, you’re guided through more and more (I’ll come back to that in a second), and by the end of the game you’re considering resources, upgrades, multiple ways of using skills, attacks, movements, status conditions, turn effects, and more, confidently.
Instead of a text heavy, dense explanation that front loads every possibility, the instructions break gameplay into chapters. You play a full game from chapter one, but when you move to chapter two, it repeats the descriptions, and highlights new things to add in. You play again, suddenly emboldened with new abilities, until you’ve played enough games to be confident, before trying the next – or not, if we enjoyed the earlier way of playing. It’s one of the rare examples of a game I’ve taught where I haven’t sought to double check my understanding with a video online, as I hit the ground running and didn’t look back. More like this, please.
The play is then standard skirmish, with good Disney flair. The starting roster of characters may seem unusual (because it is an eclectic mix – Demona and Doctor Facillier alongside the expected Mickey Mouse, supported by Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Scully, Gaston and Maleficent), but importantly, these offer a range of play styles and are balanced. Do you want to prioritise the higher health characters and potentially sacrifice picking your higher hit characters, or do you want a team of all types? You did well pitting Ariel against Gaston last time, but would Demona’s special abilities when you upgrade have done better? The whole match is an attempt to gain victory points, which will meet the win condition for the game, and means that the knocked out characters return to battle for the game to continue. It’s a delightful tug of war of attacks (without violence), before you head back to the drawing board to try again with another team.
The biggest question of the game however, is who this is pitched at. The Disney theme tends to lower the expected age group of player, but the complexity pitches it as 13+. The likelihood a Disney fan will stumble across a £50 skirmish game and be indoctrinated into the world of gaming seems low, but conversely, as does a light Disney game having immediate shelf appeal to the average skirmish gamer. Having said that, it would be quite the shame for the game to fail as a result, given how much fun lies within.
PLAY IT? YES
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Unmatched
If I said “a skirmish game based on popular characters that’s really fun with loads of interchangeable character options” I could be taking about either Sorcerer’s Arena, or Unmatched.
Designer: Sean Fletcher
Publisher: The Op
Time: 35 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Game board
- 8 Acrylic standee figures with bases
- 8 Base rings
- 8 Character ability cards
- 8 Character decks (10 cards per deck)
- 4 Reference cards
- 8 Character turn tokens
- Turn marker
- 24 Status effect tokens
- 15 Status counters
- 18 Victory point tokens
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This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
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