Thursday, June 10, 2010

Game Review: Iconicia (The World of Rynaga)

I don't think I mentioned that I picked up this new game, Iconica, created by graphic designer Eric Torres. I'd read a review a while back on Wired's Geek Dad blog (see the link below for a solid review with more pics). It's a homebrew game strategy game that features gorgeous, original artwork by Torres, as well as a few crunchy block bits and dice.

Wired did such a great job with their coverage that I'd be just repeating most of what they said, but I can speak a bit about my own game session. I'd had it for a few months but Memorial Day weekend presented a great excuse to bust out the game with my pal Joe and take it for test drive.

Highlights of Play 
Basically, you build an army (a band of character templates) from three different factions that you use in combat. The starter set gives you enough cards to play three characters in what is essentially your army (read: deck). You play the cards face up and use small wooden cubes to denote certain effects (stun, poison, blindness, etc.) and a health counter. Each character card has six "actions" (1d6) they can perform in the game, but there's a catch!

Character actions are decided by dice, the strategy comes into play by deciding which character you're going to use AFTER the dice are rolled. This might turn some people off, but in fact it's a really interesting dynamic because there are only three actions to choose least in the beginning. Once your army starts to dwindle, the real strategy is in trying to stay alive. The game compensates by allowing dying characters a "final act" of heroism to stave off the reaper and inflict one final blow on your sworn enemies. Or in this case Joe, because he played dirty and blinded, poisoned, and walloped my guys.*

There are enough in-game effects and events that can occur to keep players on their toes. I also enjoy the idea of mixing/matching cards to build your army, which I'd liken to the possible board layouts you can achieve in Settlers of Catan--different cards give your deck unique abilities.
*All three of my characters are poisoned (green cubes next to cards) and the center character is blinded (orange cube on face). The placement of the cubes is as important as their color in Iconica.
Perks and Extras
Our game session was quite long, mainly due to learning the rules, which could use a better tutorial. In the end though, we had a blast, and just look at the beautiful illustration and design by Torres.
The cards are glossy, high-quality cardstock and there's even a few card protectors thrown in for good measure. It's quite clear this game is a labor of love!
It's worth noting that Torres is constantly supporting the game with new character types, illustrations, and he even published a book to describe the setting of Rynaga. The game is relatively inexpensive, which made it really easy to purchase the basic, 2-player set as well as a few expansion cards. Torres has added team rules so more players can join in the fun--I'm looking forward to trying those out as soon as I pick up a few more cards. I also really like supporting a one-man game design operation. Torres sells the game, expansions, and extras on his Etsy site.

For now, I look forward to playing Iconica again, hopefully with more players!

Learn more:
Iconica Blog
Eric's Etsy store
Wired review
Boardgame Geek entry


Eric Torres said...


Thank you so much for reviewing Iconica. I really appreciate you taking the time to articulate your thoughts and tell others about this project. Your support means a lot. Without people like you, I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing. I look forward to creating more content for years to come.

-Safe travels!

-Eric Torres

Jay said...

Thanks Eric, we sure had fun playing it!