Preview: Ignite by Ginger Snap Gaming

Vaughn Reynolds

I love deck builders.

To say anything less would be an understatement. I grew up playing TCGs and CCGs, hosting tournaments of all kinds and was even an official Magic judge at one point.

I love card games.

When I first heard about Dominion I had been out of the card game world for a few years… and when I played it I was hooked. This new format was just what I needed. An amazing card-driven experience without the need for endless packs being opened chasing cards, or sweating over trades to get that PERFECT card to finish my tournament deck.

Deckbuilders now come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve played quite a few, to say the least… and I have to say that this new kid on the block is FANTASTIC.

I’ve watched Darren Terpstra, founder of Ginger Snap Gaming, post about Ignite in boardgame and design groups for quite a while now. I was initially drawn in (hah) by a post he made asking for critiques on his cover art. It was eye-catching and I’ve been following his progress ever since.

What I like the most about Ignite is that it takes the elements of deck building I love (customizable play experience) and combines it with variable player powers, grid movement and a sprinkling of area control. I’m a big fan of Shining Force, Final Fantasy Tactics, etc! 🐭

Dominion, as some know, is the official genesis of the deck building genre. There have been some well-received versions since then that have helped shape the genre and set new standards of design: Star Realms, Ascension, DC, Legendary, Paperback, Clank! and Terrors of London. They all introduced different elements such as a 2-player focus, faction synergy (à la Magic: The Gathering), non-combat win conditions, point-to-point movement, and more.

I believe Ignite is the next big step in deck building gameplay and design. It’s use of grid movement, variable player powers, and beautiful minis sets it apart from all others in the genre.

Below is the basic prototype board layout for 2-4 players. The 6×12 area in the middle is comprised of random tiles that will contain Plains, Lava, Water, and Forest terrain. The outer brown area is the Village. In the center 4 spots of the board, there is also a Bazaar (not pictured below, as the rules have been updated since I played). To the right is the Market, where all your 16 Battle Decks are located. There are many, many Battle Decks, so each game feels very different.

On the board you’ll also see 6 tokens. Those represent the Races my wife and I chose for that round, however, now 2 player mode allows each player to pick two races each. This both increases strategy as you can synergize your races abilities and increases the tension on the board as you can control and threaten more spaces on the board. In the published version of the game, all races will be minis, not tokens (pictured later).

Below is a screenshot from the updated rulebook, so you can see a clearer—and no glare—version of what I’m saying. The yellow outlines are showing you the shapes of the board pieces and how they interlock.

From afar the Village tiles look like a muddy brown, but they are quite detailed if you look at them more closely.

And the Cards look great. This one is pricey and costs 10 Honor (the number in the middle) and produces 2 Honor (upper left). Why is it so expensive? Well, it’s a Movement card, which allows you to move your units around the board. It also allows you to move through a unit (not normally allowed) and deal 1 damage to them (units have 3 health total)! If the enemy has a Shield, you still get Knocked Down and the controlling player will have to discard a card to stand them back up! Plus, that’s one badass looking unicorn!

Earlier I mentioned the Races. Each race either has a bonus which is economic or card-based, or it is a racial bonus applied to the units themselves. There are 9 races here, but he has more developed for expansions and stretch goals as well!

The race(s) you choose are very important. They are your variable player power for the game, which should then affect your strategic decisions throughout the game along with which Battle Cards you decide to purchase. Those two sets of choices, along with the grid movement and area control make each playthrough quite different creates new puzzles/strategies to unlock for yourself each time.

Plus, there are even more elements to the game that allow you to dive deeper and deeper into the gameplay. For example, Titles:

From the Rulebook, “Title cards are optional cards you can add to the market. Add only 1 or 2 titles cards per game. Title cards do not count toward the 16 battle deck limit. There is only 1 copy of each title card. A title card does not have a cost in the center of the card. Rather, it has multiple costs in the upper left-hand corner. The first player to purchase a title card may purchase it for any of the costs listed. When it is purchased, it is placed in front of that player and stays out on the table. On each subsequent turn after it’s purchased, the card’s owner may use the title card’s effect.

Another player, on their turn, can steal the title card away by purchasing it for a cost higher than what the previous player paid for it. They can purchase it for any listed price, as long as it is a higher price. The new owner places it in front of them and may use its effect on each subsequent turn. If a title card is ever purchased for its maximum cost, other players can continue to steal it by purchasing it at its maximum cost.”

AND there are multiple gameplay variants to apply once you’ve become familiar with the rules. This game alone could provide years of replay. It’s definitely worth checking out, and will be on Kickstarter in less than a week!

Want to win it before people can even back it on Kickstarter? Check out their official launch giveaway!

And if you want to follow Ginger Snap Gaming, check them out on:

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