Godtear Review – Is It God Tier?
Here we are. Yet another skirmish board game. You need to be crazy enough or confident enough to jump into the tabletop skirmish board games genre. There are a ton and several that I and the players around the world think are pretty darn good. So how does Godtear fit with X-Wing, or Unmatched, or Aresteia, or the latest Disney hit Sorcerers Arena? If you don’t have time to read any further, I’ll tell you right now…that’s pretty darn good.
I’ve already mentioned just a small part of the competition that Godtear faces and that’s because I find myself getting more and more selective in my game choices lately. Storage space is limited, my money doesn’t go that far, and 10 billion games are released every year. So what is Godtear and why is it worth your time over another option?
So what is it?
Godtear is really two games in one. Like most one-on-one skirmish games, the first part of the game takes place before the real game even begins, building your team. If you’re playing with friends or just learning the game, it’s perfectly fine to spend hours in advance figuring out who you want to play with or just grabbing the coolest ones (there are dragons), but if you want a more competitive approach, the game starts with a draft.
Godtear’s characters were designed with synergies and team play in mind, so putting together the right characters to not only make your strategy successful, but to counter your opponent is an important part of the game even before you don’t really start playing. I love this aspect of the game. Understanding synergies and counters gets my brain spinning in the right direction and makes me feel like I’m really on the verge of playing a competitive game. Although I like it, this is also the first potential negative point. This game requires investment. Highligths. Sure, you can do this casually once a year or with random people, but to really get the most out of it you need to be committed to learning the characters and strategies and need an opponent who makes same. This is one of those games where an experienced player will crush someone new to the game.
Whichever approach you take, you’ll start the game with three characters, all of whom have between one and 6 or more minions. Characters are divided into types and color-coded according to their effect. Green characters are better at placing their totems, more on later ones, and score more points if their totems are on the board. Blue characters are better at removing totems and score extra points for doing so. Red characters are better at killing other characters and score extra points accordingly. Finally, yellow characters are better at killing minions and score bonus points for doing so.
It’s essential when building your team to have a mix of character types, but with four types and only three to choose from, you can never have it all. All characters have multiple abilities and a unique heroic ability and all minions have several of their own unique abilities. Oh, and during gameplay, you’ll be flipping your character and minion cards back and forth and they all have different abilities on the front and back. That’s a lot to follow and make the most of during the game. Remember earlier when I talked about commitment? Godtear is definitely not a casual game.
So you’ve drafted your team, now it’s time to set up the scenario. There are a variety of scenarios at the end of the book which are all designed to encourage dynamic play and planning. The objective locations will grow, shrink, move, and disappear depending on which one you choose. Not only does this add another wrinkle to deal with, but it prevents the middle-of-the-board stacking that many skirmish games can become. Once you’ve set up one of the scenarios, you’re ready to play.
The gameplay is divided into two phases. In the first phase, each player will activate all their units, trying to settle in the best position and take out their totems in the scoring areas. There are opportunities for some fights, but the abilities in the first phase are mostly movement, repositioning, boons, and blights. Activation is a whole team and then the whole other team. In the second phase, the carnage begins. Activations now alternate between players until each character and minion has had a turn. Characters activate individually and groups of minions activate together. This means that if your character has 5 minions, all 5 can go together but the actions you choose are shared between them. Characters and minions will die during a game, but characters respawn on the next turn and minions can be re-summoned, so it’s not a snowball. Positioning and timing are everything.
The reason timing is so important is the smart scoring rules. The game is played over five potential rounds with one team scoring in each round. The clever part is that not all rounds are worth the same number of points. The first round is only worth one point, with the points increasing with each round until the third round, then decreasing again. So charging ahead for the first points, but losing characters and putting yourself in a bad position for the next one could cost you the game. You need to know when it is most beneficial to hit and get the most rewards.
Choosing which characters or minions to activate on your turn and which abilities to use is highly strategic. With so many unique abilities and combo potential, it can be easy to agonize over making the right choice and when you finally think you have the perfect plan, you’re headed straight for the bane of all tabletop players. The dice. With everything I’ve said so far about Godtear’s strategy and complexity, it’s still a dice-roller. I can rattle off everything you’ve ever heard about odds in a game or minimizing chance through strategic choices, and those are valid points, but oh boy can you still be screwed by the of the.
Every interaction in Godtear is an opposing dice roll, so you’re going to be rolling a lot and it can be frustrating when your perfect attack is messed up by a lousy dice roll, especially if you feel like it’s not going the whole game. Personally, I don’t mind. I like to roll the dice and sometimes it works and sometimes you get crushed. I bring this up because if you’re one of those dice haters, and I know there are a lot of you, you won’t like this game. The strategies and gameplay are deep enough that a few bad rolls won’t ruin your game, but dice haters hate it.
Godtear’s production is top notch. The character sculpts are gorgeous and a nice chunky heroic scale that looks amazing on the board. Each model is color coded according to its type, which I find useful, but they would also paint beautifully if you are a painter. The maps are normal maps, not too fancy but they don’t feel bad either. You get a load of chips in the box which are clear and easy to punch. The boards are the weakest part. There is nothing to complain about their quality but the graphics have absolutely nothing to do with the game. I wish the map was more an integral part of the gameplay, so there is room for improvement. There are currently two starter kits to test the waters and they are split between color types, red and green as well as blue and yellow. If you pick up a starter and like the feel, you’ll need the other starter or an individual character expansion to build a full team.
Godtear is a winner. It combines the ease and accessibility of a board game, but features complex decision spaces and beautiful templates. While many skirmish games seem to turn into a mid-board brawl, Godtear’s storyline design and character interactions keep the gameplay dynamic and interesting while the five-turn playtime keeps it from dragging. for hours. If you really want to invest in mastering a game and have friends to do it with, Godtear is a fantastic choice.
Godtear is a complex battle that tests your ability to create great games and rewards those who are serious about investing in learning its systems and characters.
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