Saber & Blood
Publisher: Kazrak Studio
Age: due to the subject matter, 15 years +
Number of players: 2 – possible 3-4-person
Game times: from 30 minutes till 60 minutes
„The 1665 Anno Domini, border of the Polish-Lithuanian Union was set on fire, there have nothing left but ruins of villages and towns. The air was full of the smell of war, human misery and burning debris. Old people said that ghosts has returned to their former abodes, and the hungry wolves has begun to prowl the villages. Some said that the witches, emboldened by the overwhelming evil, has begun preparations for the Sabbat. Bandits, groups of Cossacks, and ordinary cutthroids mercilessly robbed and murdered unfortunates who were so unwise to travel these dangerous times. Only those who did not part with the saber at their, the gun at the belt and the prayer, had a chance to survive. Strange times were – lawlessness, bribes, and at the same time full of honor and desire adventures … Those who had the courage to venture on this damned land, they were looking for either fun, or revenge, or redemption.”
Saber & Blood is a quite interesting project, which has a chance to appear on the tables, if you only have will to support it on the Kickstarter platform.
It is some kind of asymmetric game of Kazrak Studio publishing, amazingly atmospheric, with a rather unusual subject – a tavern brawls. It involves performing actions, by playing cards and using dice. One of the players impersonates Polish noblemen , the other impersonates a shaggy Cossacs.
Elements of the game.
I received a copy of BETA from the publishing house, so I do not know yet how the box will exactly look like, but judging by the graphics on the cards and board, it would have be amazingly climatic.
The manual already has a target appearance, although the one you will have in your copies will be colorful, but this is not the most important. It has been written very carefully with examples. The rules have been described according to pattern: each phase is described separately, along with a detailed description of the cards and dice, then describe the rules about how to move on it, as well as rules on fighting. The next part describes key words, Characters and faction abilities, which are slightly different because the game is asymmetrical as I said. The final part contains the scenarios.
The game contains six very detailed minis. Unfortunately, the photos do not reflect their actual appearance – they are metal and specifically refract light, although I suspect that using professional photographic lighting can show their actual appearance better. I can assure you about one thing, I have not seen plastic figures or even resin, so detailed in such a small size.
In the basic version of the game, we got two different faction. Each additional faction from the campaign that would have been unlocked would have its own deck.
There are descriptions of actions or events on them, as well as very interesting illustrations, in my version in a characteristic dark shade, but the authors intend to use a light print to make the details more visible. Graphics, in my opinion, perfectly reflect the nature of individual actions that we will be able to play.
The board is small, but graphically maintained in the atmosphere of the interior of a seventeenth-century Inn. It presents a bar, benches with tables, and other utensils characteristic of the century.
The set also includes tokens – markers: two-sided action markers, and one-sided: hastle, weaken, bolster, stun, slow,
wound, poison, wounds, special points – value 1 and 5.
The set of dice also looks nice.
Because Saber & Blood is an asymmetrical game, each player has a different set of cards. To win, you need to take the most cost-effective tactic, depending on the cards that will appear in your hand.
Preparation for the game is very fast. After choosing the faction, the player receives the character cards and the appropriate decks of orders. The tokens should be in a place accessible to both players.
Minis of a particular faction are set up at places designated with the help of a specific scenario that we are going to play.
At the beginning of the game, each player draws five cards on his hand, during the game, you can draw cards at the end of the turns, but the limit is seven. Cards can be used as a move action or as an attack. Cards also have special effects, including treatment or performing a stronger attack. Each player also has six command points that he can use during the turn, as well as a certain number of points that are related to the faction’s characteristics. This kind of points of the Polish nobles names „fantasy” and of the Cossacks names „fury.” During the turn, each character can perform only one action.
The cost of playing each card is given in the upper right corner: it ranges from 1 to 3 command points. In some cases, we will also need special points. The principle of drawing cards is very interesting. At the end of the turn, we can draw them equal to the amount of command pionts they have left in this turn, so we must carefully spend them.
There are three types of command cards: Action, Stance, Interference. The first one has immediate effects, the next one has a permanent effect on the played character, moreover, if you would like to play another stance card, then you must discard the previous one. Interference cards can be played as opposed to Stance in any number – limited only by the number of command points that we have at our disposal.
Cards can also be played as so-called „standard actions”, i.e. regardless of the texts on the card, you can use them to:
- Two movement points,
- One movement point and one attack,
- Action: this charakter receives a defense token
- Become ready after the end of this action
You can move your charakter in any direction, using the available movement points, you can even move on obstacles, such as barrels, wardrobes or counter, but you can not finish the movement there. However, you must not move in the fields where the pillars are located, and enter the field of the hearth (fireplace) voluntarily. The opponent can push us to the hearth, which will result in getting a wound. If our character is pushed into the hearth, we must put it in a free field around it, if it is inaccessible, it means the death of our character in agony.
Performing the „attack” action means a fight by using dice. Each player has 7 of them at their disposal, including: 4 dice of fencing and 3 dice of stance – a attack, dodge, fint. Each player secretly chooses one fencing stance dice and chooses the right level of fencing skill dice, then after the rolled, we compare the results and assign the received wounds.
The creators of Saber & Blood, proposed several scenarios:
Tavern brawl, a brutal scenario in which to win, we simply have to slaughter the enemy faction, using what is possible, smashing mugs of beer, slamming the trays, smashing bottles and throwing barrels on the head. I love this scenario, it perform a negative interaction in its purest form.
Raid, yes my dear readers have defined the invasion, the expedition, in order to take revenge on someone who insulted us. This scenario is bloody, the player who set up the raid, when he slaughtered all the comrades of the one who spat in our face, while the defending player will win when he manages to kill the raiders, or escape from the tavern.
Burn down the tavern, in this scenario, one faction is trying to burn down the tavern, and the other tries to prevent it. The condition for winning for one faction is the effective arson of the tavern, while the other is to slaughter the arsonists, or to protect the tavern up to 10 rounds inclusive.
Thieft, the Cossacks, will not allow the dirty Lachy to seize Zaporozheska gold! The nobility wins if you manage to escape with a casket full of gold, while the Cossacks will when they slay all the robbers until the end of the 10th round.
Debt, the player who is the first to collect target markers, taken from the innkeeper, or the one who first infects the enemy faction … you can be smart, or veeery brutally.
A lady in distress, the kidnappers will win if they manage to drag the Lady to the blue grid, and the defenders if they make it impossible up to 10 turns inclusive. Both factions can also win, obviously, if they slice their opponents!
Impressions and summary
Saber & Blod is hardly complicated title. Otherwise the game is not trivial and requires a truly strategic approach. We will have to adjust the style and tactics to the faction, we can also choose whether the interaction will be very brutal, or slightly milder and we will set ourselves to achieve the objectives of the scenario. The rules are clear and you can control to some extent what is happening on the board, despite the clear randomness of rolling dice for example. We must also remember that letting go of „fantasies” too much or surrendering to „fury” can take revenge in subsequent turns. Sometimes it’s worth to use a little bluff and not defend yourself if the enemy deals a small amount of damage. We can always drink and lick wounds;).
The game has a lot of advantages, among them: very good atmosphere, extraordinary mechanics. Randomness of Saber & Blood, which is a bit annoying, however, each game is still a bit different, and if we add the opportunity to choose from several scenarios, many, many hours will not be bored.
The big adentage is the possibility of choosing the path leading to victory. Contrary to appearances, the game is not just about fights. In the scenarios, we have certain missions to perform and it often happens that choosing a mission will be better than simply using force. However, you can not refuse a few slaps of an upsetting rival :).
I recommend the game to couples who know what good competition and negative interaction are. Saber & Blood does not cause big quarrels or divorces, but a temporary ofence can trigger 😉 Saber & Blood is the perfect title for players looking for a light fantasy atmosphere, for a simple and fast gameplay, a good filler between heavy dungeon crawlers or even complex battles games.
My rating is 8/10. A good and emotional double title with the effect of a rematch.
- very simple rules
- intuitive symbols printed on tokens
- interesting tactical game despite clear randomness
- fantastic and very detailed metal minis
- great and very atmospheric graphics
- a lot of emotions and a lot of negative interaction
Thank you to the Kazrak Studio publishing house for making the BETA version available for review.