03 September 2018
Finding reality, one card at a time
A remake/reboot of the original Entropy, Worlds Collide is an interesting and attractive card game that can’t quite deliver fully on its promising premise.
Part of the appeal is the game’s modest components. Each player uses just six identical action cards, plus the unique ability of their character, to try and claim four ‘shards’ before their rivals. Like fellow rapid filler Love Letter, the cards clearly state what they do, so once you’ve grasped the unnecessarily lofty and esoteric sci-fi terminology (‘shards’, ‘Nexus’, ‘reality’) and got a grip on the straightforward basics it’s fast to set up and get going. Cards are revealed simultaneously and performed in order of initiative value, so there’s very little slack between turns and plenty to think about as you try to outpace and outwit your opponents.
Once you’ve used an action card, you don’t get it back until you reset (with another card) or empty your hand, so knowing when to try and swipe one of your shards from the discard pile or central deck – the Nexus – is where the game’s big decisions lie.
The trickiest thing is that any players who execute the same action cancel each other out in a ‘clash’ unless one of them has the ‘anchor’ card (gained with another of the actions), which lets them break the tie in their favour.This means you can try your luck – but with up to four people and just six actions, the odds often aren’t in your favour – or scrap over the anchor with careful cardplay to pull ahead. Worlds Collide reduces the original Entropy’s player count by two, which helps ease up on the frustration of feeling continually blocked, but it’s still a common enough occurrence for players to feel like they're recreating a sci-fi version of Dr. Seuss' The Zax.
Another intriguing idea is that each player stores a facedown shard in their ‘hold’, which only they can see until it is revealed (you guessed it: another action) – once face-up, it can be locked into a player’s ‘reality’, propelling them towards victory. As you can only hold one shard in your hold at a time, it makes it worthwhile to hang onto an opponent’s card to stop them claiming it, but this can hinder your efforts to collect your own set – and risks a rival targeting your hold with the expose action and taking it for themselves. The game sharply mixes in a set of shards from one of the characters not being used, so there’s always an element of doubt as to what each player has hidden. There’s a wild card in the mix, too, that stops things grinding to a standstill, particularly in two-player games.
There are plenty of admirable concepts ticking away in Worlds Collide, but they don’t always come together to make the game a whole lot of fun to play. There’s not enough room for bluffing or deduction with the hidden cards, and finding shards often comes down to lucky draws or plays – the clash rules mean you can spend multiple turns unable to do anything if you make a mistake and are forced to wait to reset your hand, or just happen to be unfortunate.
It looks fantastic, plays fast and might catch your fancy if you’re after a light 15-minute filler, but it’s hard not spend more time wondering what it could’ve been than actually enjoying what it is.
Despite some great art and big ideas in a small package, Worlds Collide doesn’t manage to land all of its hits as well as you’d hope.
Designer: Allen Chang, Alistair Kearney
Artist: Mike Yakovlev
Time: 15-45 minutes
This review originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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