Untamed: Feral Factions by Jeremy Falger and Milan Lefferts
Publisher: Grumpy Owl Games
Playing Time: 20-30 mins
MECHANICS – 4
THEMES – 3
ART – 5
FUN – 5
REPLAY VALUE – 3
Total Rating: 4 Stars
I picked up this interesting looking card game off kickstarter because I was by not only the artwork (being a pretty game sure does help) but also because I was in the mood for deckbuilding card game that was a little off-beat.
And really, having played Untamed, perhaps half a dozen times, it definitely feels like that’s probably the best way to promote it.
It has element of many other card games, so it’s hardly re-inventing the wheel, but merely puts a fresh pair of tyres on it and slaps a go-faster stripe to the bumper.
In Untamed:Feral Factions (which I’m just going to call Untamed because the other is Waaaay too long), the purpose of the game is to take 3 of the 9 playable factions, mix them all up to make a blended deck and then use this in a series of turns to batter your opponent’s Stonghold, which in this game take the form of life points or similar.
Each faction has a unique feel and play style to it and your choices include: Tricky Foxes, Weak but plentiful Rabbits, Dastardly life draining Rats, Savage Tigers, Stoic Rhinos, card cycling Pandas, buffering Chameleons, card chaining Crocodiles and the upgrading items Racoons.
Each has a score of beautiful artwork and the cards for the most part are balanced, though I would say that some combinations are more favourable than others, at least in the games I’ve played. The main purpose to attack Strongholds is balanced well with the mixture of other cards you have. The cards come in two basic forms: animals (that’s your troops) and items (upgrades and cool stuff). The one thing I did like about this game versus others which friends had likened it too, i.e. magic, is that there’s no specific resource based card, like mana. In many other card decking games, the idea of having specific cards that generate your ability to summon monsters, or get troops onto the field for example can leave you sometimes on the bad end of an unlucky shuffle and royal smashed into the turf without so much as being able to make a fighting chance of it.
That’s not the case in Untamed.
The cards in your hands are all you need. They’ll fight for you, upgrade for you and unlock abilities and most importantly generate that sweet, sweet resource. Only thing is that becoming a resource, known simply as power in this game, is a permanent effect. This means that what cards you use for power and when is entirely up to the player. It’s a great strategic move which adds a layer to the game as well as the support system.
Now, most of the rules in the game a re easy enough to jump into and start playing with the traditionally first few turns you find yourself with little to do as your resources are slim but y turn four or five you’ve got a system moving. Then it becomes a fantastic puzzle or what card when and trying to line up card effects and abilities to deliver a knock out punch.
Now, I would say that the designers came up with enough factions for a 3 player game (3 sets of 3) and with other variants if your friend has another copy of the game to pad it out but really, I’d say what shines for this game is 1 vs 1 as most card games are and it feels like here is where the most of Untamed’s charms lie.
The components and artwork as I’ve mentioned a couple of times are spot on, better even actually, and it’s in this aesthetic that I think most will be drawn to untamed initially, as the card game market is heavily saturated. It has a stunning set of components in the forms of card stock, tokens and box and though it’s a kickstarter, Grumpy Owl have hit the presentation of the game out of the park on this one.
It’s a solid game that has enough pulling power to have me playing and either win or lose I enjoy myself, the game and the artwork but I do feel as those it’s appeal has a time-clock to it and without expansion of factions, I don’t see it coming off the shelf much in the months ahead, and that’s not because it’s a bad game. It’s just limited by it’s genre.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A game that will have you going wild… at least for a couple of games nights.