The weird world of Gruff is expanding with the standalone expansion Rage of the Trolls. From designer Brent Critchfield, this is the third release in the Gruff series of games. It is the first to include co-op and solo play, and of course introduces nasty trolls. Rage of the Trolls launches on Kickstarter May 30th.
For those new to Gruff, it is the tactical card game about mutated monster goats. Gruff has one of the most unique and strange themes, which I really liked. One of the really interesting things about the game is the timing of actions. Attacks are declared at the end of a turn and not resolved until your next turn. This gives opponents opportunity to defend, so you must stage your attacks such that they can’t. I found this made Gruff exciting, but if you didn’t pick up the strategy quickly it could be a bit rough. This is where the addition of co-op gameplay in Rage of the Trolls was a big benefit.
If you are looking to start into the Gruff universe, Rage of the Trolls is where I recommend you start. The ability to play co-op helps new players learn the basics of Gruff, how weird increases crazy, declaring and resolving attacks, et cetera. Without getting crushed by more experienced players, they can more easily build up to the standard combat of Gruff. Gruff ability cards included in Rage of the Trolls also indicated which cards are good for beginners to select, so players don’t need to spend so much time before a game reading cards they don’t quite understand how to best use yet.
I’d feel remiss if I forgot to mention the amazing artwork featured in all Gruff games, with Rage of the Trolls being no different. All the gruffs have different styles depending on their type. Some are oozing puss, or have spike and sharp teeth, while others are robotic or mechanical. The only downside was the repeated art on the gruff ability cards. It would have been nice to get more cool artwork on these cards, but having the same images helped quickly sort cards after games. The boxes are extra creative, made to look like the jaws of a gruff or troll in the case of this expansion. The playmat is great to have since it also looked great and helped keep things organized during play.
Battling the trolls was a great addition to Gruff and a tough challenge. The troll is controlled by a deck of five cards that have a list of actions the troll takes before each player’s turn. Every turn the troll’s rage increases, making him do more damage and take more actions on the behavior cards. This gives the game an exciting rush, trying to defeat the troll quickly before he will be too strong to handle. The base game only includes one troll, with four more to unlock in stretch goals.
Gruff is highly recommended for Magic the Gathering players who also love board games. Magic players will find many aspects of Gruff familiar. Particularly the concept of trying to defeat opponent creatures to create an opening to directly attack an opponent’s life points.
Gruff improves with each new release, so this is certain to be the best one yet. Essentially, Rage of the Trolls has everything from the original Gruff and more. It integrates well with the previous Gruff games and adds plenty of new features. If you are looking for a solid two-player combat game, Rage of the Trolls is a great choice. It has interesting mechanics and a strange and unique theme. Check out Gruff: Rage of the Trolls on Kickstarter and start making your goats meaner, fatter, and weirder than ever.