Iconica – [Bri & Bill] Geek Out
At last year’s Phoenix Comicon I got my hot little hands on The World of Rynaga’s latest release of the Iconica game series. I was eager to introduce the game to my friends, and had the opportunity to do so at the Co+Hoots Game Night. I’ve shared my feelings on Iconica in the past, this time around Educating Geek’s friend Bill Nash was gracious enough to share how he felt about his first experience with Iconica after the jump.
I’m an old school table top gamer. I started out young on the earliest D&D sets, my iconic players handbook now lost to antiquity. I still remember my awe at my first set of dragon dice, and how cool the cover of the “new” AD&D expert rule book was. I was what, six years old, and the cover art of a mounted paladin squaring off with an incoming dragon still resonates.
Fast forward thirty something years, and I’ve got a starter deck of Iconica before me, aspects of old and new gaming systems, all in one go. To my experienced eye for game systems, Iconica is a relatively quick pick-up. The card design offers a wealth of detail, which is both good and bad, depending on your skill levels. It may seem a bit overwhelming, at first blush, but after a few rounds of play, this quickly disappears as the flow of the system settles into place. A simplified summary of each turn is resolve, roll, and act.
Each character card is rich with unique and game-bending abilities. However, if you’re only in possession of a starter deck, it’s possible you’re holding a few characters that are either distinctly unbalanced, or require a certain critical mass of collected cards to really show off their value, as some card abilities are tied into the more subtle relationships between cards, like race or faction. For a new player, trying to fold unique abilities into the flow of game play can lead to some creative rule interpretations. For an experienced player, this can lead to some extended rules lawyering, focused very tightly on wording.
The instructions that come with the starter deck are pretty easy to read through, and are well organized, but occasionally fall short in satisfying some of the more complex interactions possible across various cards. Sportsmanship and a sense of fair play are a great thing to have handy at all times, as a consensus interpretation may leave you on the losing side of a rules discussion. If you know your playing partners well, this won’t be an issue. If you’re in a group setting with new players, be sure to tap a third party as an impartial judge.
The balance of power across characters, especially with certain rare card types in play, can be wide. A randomized starter deck may leave a pair or group of players using the same deck for several games feeling a little underwhelmed, as the winning team is determined by who grabbed a particular card first (I’m looking at you, Mimic.) I doubt this is intentional on the part of the game designers, but it’s certainly motivation to pick up additional cards if you really enjoy the game. Some cards don’t pick up in value until late in the game, after one or more of your opponents character’s have been eliminated from play. The ability to stun three of your opponent’s characters, for example, is a powerful control element that just adds insult to injury if you and a teammate can perform an extended stun lock cycle on the opposing team.
Like other card-based games, collection will lead you to great combos and increased game depth. It’s hard to speculate on faction balance without a full set to examine, but overall, I’m pretty happy with the gameplay of the starter kit, and can’t wait to see more.
Big thanks to Bill for weighing in with his experience! I’ve had the opportunity to play with several decks at once and can confirm that the wider your variety of options the easier it is to balance teams against each other. It was a pleasure to introduce my friends to the game. The players quickly became passionate about learning their character’s abilities, and to say that competition occasionally got heated may be a slight understatement, but we were all able to have several good laughs and shake hands at the end of the game.
I asked Iconica creator Eric Torres to give us the scoop on his Comicon and other going-ons:
Phoenix Comicon – Our booth number is 7095 and should be listed under “World of Rynaga – Specimen Design.” We’ll be playing Iconica in the PhxCC game room Friday through Sunday, and we plan to host an Iconica Tournament that weekend as well.
Current World of Rynaga Projects – Something new is in the works: Iconica Travels! (Yup, we’re excited. :D) This is our first story-based add-on for Iconica that adds questing, adventuring, gear, and all sorts of other cool elements for players to interact with. We’ve been developing Iconica Travels for the past two years and we plan to release it at Phoenix Comicon. I’ll be posting more about this very soon via our website and Facebook page!
Other Stuff – We’re working on lots of new art, new maps, and a new version of Rynagapedia. Rynagapedia is a resource for folks who want to create their own RPGs set with Rynaga. So, lots of stuff we’re excited about!
If you stop by the World of Rynaga table at Phoenix Comicon, make sure to tell them that Educating [Geeks] sent you! And if aren’t able to make it, you can find all currently available sets at The World of Rynaga Etsy Shop.