Tidal Blades, on the abandoned beach, shells and… rampaging monsters!
The Kingdom is looking for a brave warrior who can be part of the Royal Guard: the Tidal Blades! To find the rare pearl, a tournament is organized to test all the contenders. Are you ready for the competition? Keeping in mind that bloodthirsty monsters are constantly threatening the Kingdom and can attack at any time. There will be many opportunities to put yourself forward by going to face these monsters and build a good reputation. No time to waste, don’t leave your training and efforts in the locker room; the competition starts now!
Tidal Blades is a game from a Kickstarter funded in November 2018 and currently in distribution by Druid City Games / Skybound Games. The game is created by Tim and Ben Eisner and illustrated by Lina Cossette and David Forest. The opus is intended for 1 to 4 heroes (5 if you have the appropriate extension) of 14 years old and for a game of about 90 minutes.
The game is characterized as a worker placement mixed with dice management (because dice improvement is at the heart of the gameplay), where the winner will be determined by whoever has the most victory points. You will also have the opportunity to improve the abilities of your hero and you will have a bit of resource management to do, which will give a definite advantage in the game.
A fantastic universe that sails around the ocean, corals, vacations! But no, you will face each other mercilessly and mercilessly so that you can become the new Tidal Blades of the Royal Guard!
At the time of writing this editorial, the game is only available in English and will have a “retail” version therefore accessible in stores. For the lucky ones, the Kickstarter offered a deluxe version with a huge box that can store all the components as well as the 5th player expansion. As a bonus, owners of the deluxe version receive a kind of art book that presents the universe of Tidal Blades which lets us imagine that fun projects around this new universe will soon see the light of day (it is not for nothing that the game is called Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef… Part.1!).
Without further ado, we present the rules to you for a small overview of the course of a game turn.
Make the reef of your adventure!
In Tidal Blades, each player will be provided with a player board, skill cards, 2 basic dice, action tokens, starting challenge cards and starting resources (fruits and seashells).
Concretely, the game takes place over 4 rounds. In round 1, players start with 2 action tokens. This means that they can take turns carrying out a maximum of 2 actions on the board, before moving on to the next round. Except that you will be able to recover up to 2 more actions in the next rounds to arrive at a total of 4 actions before the last game round and thus, be able to make more visits on the board.
Actions are linked to the places you will visit. A player takes his token and places his action on a desired location. He recovers the associated gain and also performs a bonus granted by the location of the kingdom where he is located. There are 5 islands in the base game that you can visit, each with several locations to place your token on). Once this action is done, you have the option of playing a challenge card from your hand. This is when the dice will come into play. To succeed in your challenge, you will have to achieve a certain result (symbols) with the dice you have available. Whether successful or not, you will be able to increase your character characteristics that are on your player board. And that’s where we get into the evolutionary side of your character.
To summarize and keep it simple, you will visit places and collect bonuses. Then try to pass a challenge card. And finally, improve your character characteristics.
And it’s up to the next player to take his turn until he no longer has any action tokens available. Once everyone has played we move on to a “night” phase which consists of spawning monsters in the reef. These can activate and beat you up. And most importantly, you will recover a number of dice “used” during the round to make them “available” (and perform new challenges), as well as to make them evolve! At this point, we start the evolutionary part of the dice, because there are several levels that go from standard to more powerful dice (depending on the distribution of symbols on the dice). But you can also discard it to take the one of the next higher level.
But what is the point of changing our dice? This evolving dice system will allow you to perform much more difficult challenge cards! And it’s worth the effort, since completing more difficult challenges will increase your character stats faster. So, get stronger, get more bonuses, be able to hit the bad guys who are attacking the kingdom, get lots of victory points… and therefore, become the next Tidal Blades!
Under the sea… you gonna see…
The first thing that jumps out at you is obviously the material and artwork for Tidal Blades. It’s beautiful ! Very, very beautiful ! Of course, we are talking about the deluxe version that we have in hand because we have contributed to the crowdfunding of the game. Despite everything, the retail version does not have to be ashamed, it remains a pleasure to see the quality in the different components. of the game such as resource tokens, dice, cards… And for the deluxe version, miniatures, plastic resources, action tokens in poker chip mode. But also a superb dice track (see the images of the article) as well as a bonus artbook which is of any beauty.
The illustrations are in a comic style and with very vivid colors and which give the impression of going on a trip, despite the competition that awaits you in Tidal Blades. We can feel all the work through the illustrations and we take our hat off for the result.
You will also see that even the set-up is quite a work of art. It is on the other hand moderately fast, because there are a lot of components to prepare before being able to start a game. However, with the storage mode in the box, signed Game Trayz, this will help us reduce this setting up so that it does not become an ordeal. We can separate the different decks of cards, trays to put in place and what turns out great is the storage of the dice which allows the box to be used as is, as a dice counter without having to take them out. To tidy up, it is also a saving of precious time (we repeat, this material concerns the deluxe box).
The theme is rather well represented and gives the impression of having to whip to be able to win the game. After all, this is a tournament! However, for the first parts, we will no longer have the impression of being lost in the middle of a multitude of paths to take and this could disconnect us from the theme. Especially by not knowing very well what are the objectives to be imposed. But everything will get better over time …
Let’s be honest, the rules of the game are ultimately quite simple and well written, with a separate booklet to explain the different iconographies in the game. And also a booklet to explain the course of the game. Despite everything, the game remains rather difficult to master and that can put off some players. The grip, speaking of the raw side, is not complicated. We put our token, we activate, we challenge, we evolve, stop. But, there are so many possibilities and the asymmetry of the characters will require a little more time to optimize our strategy and to succeed in achieving “master strokes”. We will be more inclined to do “try and learn”. That is to say, we choose an action and we will see if it was a good idea or not. This is why we see some room for improvement in Tidal Blades; the time to familiarize yourself with the actions of the board and the character we are playing will be essential to make the most of the game.
The mechanism remains very well chosen, leaving a part of chance with the dice which can be altered with their evolutions (changing a die with another of a higher level). We will therefore have several possibilities to do what the game requires us to do at the base. That is, earn victory points! Of course, nothing revolutionary, but the thing works well, and therefore why change? The originality of Tidal Blades will come from this mix of several mechanisms widely used in the fun world and the challenge from a conceptual point of view has surely been to succeed in making everything turn. From our point of view, we find it to be quite successful. But for the reasons we stated earlier on how to get started, the fun will set in as the games go.
For the trouble, Tidal Blades remains very correct in terms of playing time. We can count around 1h30-2h (for the first part) and thereafter this playing time will be reduced considerably. The game turns are fast! The longest will be to decide which action and which location to visit!
The replayability also remains optimal thanks to the asymmetry of the characters. But not only. The monsters to fight will be different, the use of the dice brings the random aspect, the plethora of challenge cards available, etc …
On the other hand, the interaction is very slightly present. We are all in competition, but we do not directly apply actions that will impact the opposing player. Interactions will be with the locations of places that can accommodate only one player, the monsters to fight which will provide bonus / penalty depending on the players who have injured or not, as well as a “champion” track, which ‘one can vulgarly interpret as a track of reputation. The latter will grant victory points to be added at the end of the game. But nothing frontal! Which doesn’t really bother us, but still surprised us a bit.
In addition, the game adapts when playing in solo mode or two to add fictitious characters that will be used randomly to block places to visit on the board. As a result, we still keep an experience that does not change radically with a multiplayer mode! Of course, in part, because there isn’t a strong interaction between players by default. So it works really well in the end.
In conclusion, Tidal Blades turns out to be a good game that is just waiting for you to tame it. But knowing that the water and the sea are capricious in nature, you are going to have to put some goodwill into it to make it happen and have a captivating experience. We really want to insist and highlight this room for improvement, because it is essential to improve your play experience. We thank the editors for providing character-related gameplay help that outlines how to play him. A kind of very useful recommendation to know what is the strong point of the chosen character. And that helps us a little to orient our actions / challenges. This will not, however, give you the ultimate power of clairvoyance and allow you to build a strategy from scratch from A to Z. Nevertheless, you have a rather appreciable path to follow here.
Note that this remains a recommendation for beginners; you remain masters of your destiny and are free to follow it or not. We have (in Part 1) a slight feeling of too little time, or not enough action, to be able to do more. This is where the word optimization comes in through the front door. Indeed, the actions you choose should be as optimal as possible to allow you to advance in your dice evolution. But also with your character and your victory points. This is precisely the difficulty of the game. Optimizing one’s actions will be a talent that will improve with this margin for improvement that we mentioned earlier. Either way, Tidal Blades remains a great game that we enjoyed a lot and a huge feast for the eyes. We’ll even go so far as to say that the universe of Tidal Blades is damn haunting! You almost want to be there and role-play it while sipping a piña colada.
Now it’s up to you to form your own opinion.
The rules of the game (in French)
Tidal Blades on Board Game Geek
The website of the publisher Druid City Games
Information for people with disabilities
In addition to our articles, we send details below for people with a health impairment (visual, hearing or intellectual disability):
– This game requires good thinking skills and seems hardly compatible with an intellectual disability.
– This game seems to have no other particular limitations.