I have fond memories of being a child and opening up my plastic portable card carrying box to bring out my Magic: The Gathering deck to battle my brothers and friends. I liked using a black or white deck. I remember the white deck having lots of defense and the black deck having tons of scary monsters, so I was able to play how I was feeling that day.
I haven’t played Magic in a long time, and I’m not sure that I see myself going back to it since I am so long removed from the game, but I got really excited when I heard that one of my favorite board game publishers “Plaid Hat Games” was releasing their own two player deck building / dueling game called “Crystal Clans”.
Join me as I play “Crystal Clans” by Plaid Hat Games.
“Crystal Clans” puts each player at the head of a unique clan, battling for control of magical crystals said to give the controlling clan special powers. The first clan that is able to gain control of 4 crystals will be crowned the winner.
Each player choose which clan they want to be. Each clan has unique abilities and characters, not available to the other clans. Selection of your clan should be done after carefully considering how you would like to play the game. For example, in my first game, I played as the Blood Clan, which allowed me to have squads of monsters much larger than allowed by the basic rules of the game.
The board consists of a home base for each player at the far ends of the board and then spaces where players can move their minions in order to fight each other and even gain access to their opponents base. Three of the spaces on the board have pictures of crystals on them, these spaces are important because if a player can control two of these three spaces at one time, they can gain a crystal.
Turns are determined by the placement of the initiative crystal on the initiative track. The middle of the initiative track has the number zero, and then counts upwards to 20 in both directions (towards both players). When a player takes an action, there is an initiative cost; meaning they push the crystal on the initiative track towards the other players side of the track. If the crystal is still on your own side of the initiative track (meaning it hasn’t crossed zero yet) then you must continue to take actions. As soon the the initiative crystal passes to the other player’s side of the track, they will be allowed to take actions.
Actions are fairly simple.
Summon: This allows you to place up to three minions on the board in your home base. You must pay the initiative cost for each. Minions can be placed in up to stacks of three, this is referred to as a squad. Each minion has special text on their card, but only the top card of a squad has their text active.
Activate: To active a squad, pay the highest activation cost of the minions of the squad, and then are are able to do up to three actions, and although you don’t need to do them all, they have to be in this order. First you can reorder the minions in that squad, then you can move that squad to an adjacent territory, ad if you land in a territory with an opponents minions, you must battle. Also, if you land in a territory with your own minions, you must discard minions to create only one squad of three minions max.
Battling in Crystal Clans is simple. Apply the attack damage of your minions to your opponents minions defense level, and they do the same to yours. Attacking is done simultaneously so one squad will be wiped out and another can still lose multiple minions. Before the battle begins, both players choose a card from their hand to reveal and in a sort of rock, paper, scissors way, different symbols can help give a bonus to the players. One player will get a better bonus than the other.
Score: If you control two of the three crystal zones, you may take one crystal.
Replenish: Pay three initiative to draw back up to 5 cards in your hand, you may even switch out the cards you currently have.
Invade: If you have any minions in your opponents home base, you can cause them to discard a number of cards from their deck equal to your attack value. This is important because every time you run out of cards from your deck and reshuffle you must allow your opponent to take a crystal.
Crystal Clans is very easy to teach, and very easy to learn. As with all of Plaid Hat Game’s products, the production quality is top notch, including stunning art that really draws attention to itself. I have a feeling this game would do really well in retail and looks great on a shelf.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this game before I started playing it. I can say I was excited but definitely apprehensive. I haven’t played a two playing card dueling game in over 15 years, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.
My very first game of Crystal Clans lasted about 5 minutes. I was playing with my wife, who was having a good time, and as soon as I attempted to battle her she said she didn’t really want to play this kind of game anymore. That was not the first impression I was hoping for. We even had a discussion about who we could give the game to as a gift since it probably wouldn’t be a game we would keep. Boy, am I glad I didn’t let that stop me from playing again!
I took the game to play with my brother, who I was more confident would enjoy the direct conflict involved of the game, and we had such a great time playing!
From the start of the game I had an absolute blast. Putting out my armies, destroying my opponents armies, having my own minions wiped out, it was all worth it to get those precious crystals!
Throughout the game, it was clear that each clan had its own strategy, and using their special abilities to your advantage would be really important.
Putting squads together is really fun, and planning when to use your best minions (called heroes) can really make the difference in an important battle.
I really enjoy the initiative track, and how playing your heroes (who cost a ton) and scoring crystals (which also costs a ton) can be really important, but give your opponent an edge by giving them more actions. Managing the initiative track is really important to victory.
I like the battle system. I like that there are no dice involved, the symbols are really interesting, and battle happens quickly. It also doesn’t feel too devastating to lose a squad, because your entire deck is full of more minions waiting to come out.
Crystal Clans definitely took me by surprise. It’s a really fun and fast game that I will definitely keep in my collection.
Unlike Magic, and other deck crafting games, Crystal Clans started up really quickly, and played smoothly, without tons of down time spent reading card text. I hate down time spent reading card text. Like….I hate it a lot.
If you don’t enjoy conflict heavy games, this game is definitely not for you.
I do recommend this game to people who, like me, were interested in deck crafting games, but maybe don’t have the time, or patience, to do that sort of thing anymore. I recommend this game to those who maybe haven’t tried deck crafting games but want a two player, easy, engaging, conflict heavy game.
The rule book makes it seem like in the future, there will be more deck crafting involved, and I am interested to see if they find a way to do that without making things too confusing or involved.
For now, I am really pleased with base set, and look forward to a lot more battles in the future!
Crystal Clans is set to release March 29, 2018!
Play on boys and girls.