Squarriors The Card Game is available now from comic creators Ash Maczko and Ashley Witter via Cold War. Based on the hit Devil’s Due Entertainment comic series and featuring stunning art from Witter, here’s my review:
“And the meek shall inherit the Earth.” Squarriors is the epic saga of warring animals who inexplicably become intelligent after the dying off of the human race.
Squarriors is one of the most stunning comic series around thanks to artist Ashley Witter, who is able to bring these cute and relatively harmless forest rodents to life in frighteningly realistic ways, while also transforming them into brutal warriors. Writer Ash Maczko has crafted a violent and compelling epic between warring animal factions that is unlike anything else similar in the fantasy genre, so if you haven’t read the Devil’s Due Entertainment comic – seek it out before playing this game. You don’t NEED to know Squarriors the comic before playing Squarriors The Card Game, but it helps because all the cards are influenced in their deep gameplay mechanics by how they are represented in the comic – and quite well I might add.
What sets Squarriors The Card Game apart from similar fantasy TCG’s like Magic The Gathering or Hearthstone, is that THERE IS NO DECK. You may ask yourself, whaaaaaaaaaaa? No deck? Yeah I’m still thrown off and I’ve been playing this thing for a solid month. But every single card starts either in play, or in your hand. What Team Ash managed to accomplish here was the abolishing of card-seeking and deck-building. They want gamers to focus solely on strategy and opportunity – like a game of CHESS, but with cats and squirrels killing each other.
Each player’s turn has a bunch of phases, but there are four main core values in the gameplay: Dominance, Leadership, Stealth, and Manipulation. There is no ‘Mana’ to draw from or decide what your actions will be while planning your attack or preparing to defend. Players have three areas of play – the Vanguard (where your stealth and assassin cards are), Army (the powerful KILL EM ALL section) and Council (where the real strategy and longterm decisions are made). Then you have a giant hand of cards with actions that will impact your turn. The box will come with enough cards for TWO players to be able to throw down against one another, so there are no expansions or anything required – this thing is ready to play right out the gorgeous box it comes packed in. I have to mention how beautiful the cards are too, with a glossy and embossed back that feels really nice in your hand.
The way you play depends on how you spread out 20 gameplay points, which you spread amongst your game sections. If you want to play a more stealthy type game, put more focus on your Vanguard etc, so you can send in the assassin Ghost to take out some fools (that was how I liked to play personally). The other unique thing were the ‘strategy chains’ in which you put together actions to form various combos while playing out your turn and I really dug that, but I will say that it can make for some long-ass turns while you are learning to play the game on the fly like I was.
If I had any kind of criticism, it would solely be the learning curve and how complicated it can feel trying to learn all the terminology and order of events in which you play out your turn. I will be completely honest when I say that I had a very hard time learning the game. I played a lot of Magic The Gathering in school but that was AGES ago, and now I only play Hearthstone (daily), so that’s my background when it comes to card games. It took me a good couple weeks to get the hang of Squarriors The Card Game and I’m still not sure I’m doing everything correctly. I should have watched more of the BETA testing while Team Ash were testing the game out on Facebook Live. They’ve been absolutely amazing with fan interaction and that’s what I really love about this creative duo: they’re cool as Hell and they made a fresh and original card game that is super faithful to the mythology they’ve created in their comic series.