Terrene Odyssey Game Review

terreneodyssey_top

The Basics:

  • For ages 10 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Cooperative & Team Play
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Finding the treasure was the easy part. Keeping it is another matter.

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek mixed!
  • Child Geek mixed!

Purchase:

Overview

Antiphanes wrote “The quest for riches darkens the sense of right and wrong.” Or, to put it another way, greed can make one’s moral compass a lot less accurate. In this game, you will command a group of adventurers seeking treasure. Treasure so great that you will stop at nothing to get it, including destroying anyone who gets in your way. Guess what happens when you meet another group of adventurers with the same plan?

Terrene Odyssey, designed by Chris Solis and published by CGC Games, is comprised of 324 cards (3 sets of 108 cards each) and a small collection of tokens that help keep track of damage, experience points, and combat conditions. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. The tokens are made of thick cardboard and very durable, as well. The artwork by Megan Cheever and Rob Joseph is very clean, colorful, and does an excellent job of furthering the game’s theme and narrative.

The Cards in the Game

Terrene Odyssey comes with 4 pre-constructed decks of 30 cards each. These can be used to jump right into the game and the action or broken down to allow the creation of custom decks. Using the cards in the pre-constructed decks and the many that come with the game, the player can tailor their strategy and tactics, making each game personal. In total, there are 4 different types of cards.

Character Cards

The Character cards represent the unique individuals the player drafts into their personal army, but at the cost of taking up Supply resources. They can use Item cards and utilize Command cards to gain the upper hand. As Characters fight, they learn and earn experience. This makes them stronger, faster, and an even greater asset to the player. Characters are very diverse and tend to focus on certain areas of expertise referred to as “classes”. For example, Warrior, Assassin, and Beast. The Character’s class is also somewhat reflected in the Character’s name. Recognizing a Character card’s class will provide insight on the Character’s strengths and weaknesses. Characters also belong to different elemental affiliations that are used in the game to determine if additional bonuses and penalties are applied.

terreneodyssey_character

Item Cards

Items represent tools, equipment, and weapons the player can give to their Character cards. Each Character can be given either 1 Item or 1 Command card to use. Think of Item cards as that one special “thing” that the Character brought along. All the other equipment the Character is holding is common, while the Item card represents something unique.

terreneodyssey_item

Command Cards

The Command cards instruct the Characters to take special actions and even grant them special abilities. Each Character can be given either 1 Item or 1 Command card to use. Additionally, some Command cards can only be used by specific Character classes. Think of Command cards as the Character’s special ability that sets them apart from the other Characters that share the same class.

terreneodyssey_command

Terrain Cards

The Terrain cards represent the area in which the battle is taking place and the specific terrain a Character card is currently standing. This could be a unique location, a special area, or even an entire town. Terrain also defines the number of actions available to each player per turn and how the Characters will earn experience points.

terreneodyssey_terrain

Building Decks

With the 4 different card types, players can “roll their own” battle group. The rules to build a deck are restrictive without reducing a player’s ability to creatively build the deck they want.

  • Each player deck can contain no more and no less than 30 cards
  • Only 1 “Hero” Character card can be in the player deck
  • Each player deck must have at least 4 “1 Supply” Character cards
  • Each player deck must have at least 1 Terrain card
  • Each player deck must have at least 4 Item/Command cards

Let’s Get Ready to RUUUUMMMMMBBBBBBLLLLLEEEEEE!

Note: Terrene Odyssey is a game that is driven primarily off the cards the player has in play. With over 324 cards, hundreds of combos, and a seemingly countless number of combinations of different player and opponent card interactions, I cannot possibly cover it all. I can, however, summarize. The following is a high-level summary of the game with the near limitless micro details left out so as to not give you and I a nosebleed.

Terrene Odyssey is played in matches, rounds, and turns. There are 3 matches per game and an unspecified number of rounds and turns per match. Before a game begins, both players complete the following pre-game set up with their 30 card deck. The selected cards are put aside.

  1. Each player selects 4 starting “1 Supply” Character cards
  2. Each player selects 1 Item or 1 Command card for every “1 Supply” Character
  3. Each player selects 1 Terrain card
  4. Each player then takes their selected cards and places them in the middle of the table, face-up, to ensure players do not have duplicates (you cannot have the same Character card fighting on two different sides – that would be weird)
  5. Each player organizes their selected cards face-up in front of them, with Character cards in a row closest to the opponent and the attached Items/Commands in a secondary row behind the Character card it belongs to
  6. Each player shuffles their remaining cards, placing them face-down to become the draw pile
  7. Each player places their Terrain card next to their Character row and reveals them simultaneously
  8. Place the tokens in a pile to one side of the gaming area

The game can now begin with the starting player. A player’s turn is comprised of 4 phases.

Phase 1: Command

The player resets their total Actions to the number listed on their Terrain card. Then the player resolves any “Start of Turn” abilities listed on their cards. Any Defense Decay tokens are also removed. Action tokens can be used (and should) to help keep track of how many Actions the player has left.

Phase 2: Draw

The player now draws 1 card from their draw deck, holding it in their hand for possible use. There is no hand size limit. If there are no more cards to draw, the player skips this phase and continues without penalty.

Phase 3: Actions

Using Actions is at the heart of the game. Some Actions must be paid for, while some are free. Each of the Actions are summarized here.

Recruit Character

By spending 1 Action, the player can recruit 1 face-up Character cards. Recruited Character cards are “activated” and can be used to attack, defend against attacks, use special abilities, and make use of Item and Command cards. Recruited players remain face-up (visible to the opponent) until they are defeated in battle or dismissed by the player.

Declare an Attack

For 1 Action, the player can assign a Character they Recruited to attack. Each Character can only attack once per player’s turn. During the first turn of the game, a player cannot attack their opponent. After that, it’s time to get rough.

Make Use of Abilities, Items, and Commands

Character Abilities, Items, and Commands all require Actions to be spent in order to be used. However, the cost is not set. Each Character Ability, Item, and Command will list the Action price to be paid for the privilege of using it.

Triggered Abilities

Some Character Abilities, Item, and Command cards have a “Triggered” ability. These are like any other ability, but can be activated at anytime during the round if the requirements are met. In essence, this allows the player to spend an Action out of turn, but only if the Triggered ability is released. Of course, the player must have enough Actions left to use it.

Play a Hidden Character

For free, the player can play a Character card from their hand face-down in the front row. While it won’t cost the player an Action, the player must be able to pay the Character Supply cost.

Assign Items and Commands

For free, the player can bring into play an Item or Command card, placing it face-down behind a Character card that does not currently have an Item or Command card. The card will remain face-down until the player triggers it, activating the card in the process.

Trade

One per turn and for free, 2 Characters can trade face-down Item and Command cards. Once Item and Command cards are face-up, they can not be traded.

Defend

If the player is being attacked, they can defend with one of their Character cards without spending an Action.

Dismiss

The player can dismiss any card they currently have in play for free, but they will suffer a penalty for doing so. Whatever the total amount of damage is on the card being dismissed is transferred to the player’s Health Points.

Run

If it looks hopeless, the player can forfeit the match (but not the game). On the next match, the player will be able to draw 2 cards on their first turn instead of 1 card.

Phase 4: End of Turn

After the player has taken all the Actions they want (you can have Actions left over), they declare their “End of Turn” effects, resolving each one at a time. When all are resolved, the player’s turn is over and the next player in turn order sequence goes. When the opponent finishes their turn and it’s once again the player’s turn, a single round of game play has passed.

Battling for Dominance

Battles take place during a player’s Action phase when they declare an attack, spending Actions to throw their Characters into combat. Combat is organized into sequential steps, but is free-flowing between the steps, making each battle a little different.

Step 1: Declare Attacker

The active player declares an attack, spending the Action to do so. They then indicate what Character they are attacking with by pushing the card forward, temporarily removing it from the row. Each Character can only attack once per turn, but the player can decide the order in which they attack.

Step 2: Declare Defender

The opponent now declares a defender, spending nothing to do so since defending is a free Action. Unlike attacking, the same Character can be used to defend again and again. The only restriction is the number of Characters that can defend at one time. Only 1 Character can be moved forward by the opponent to use in combat.

Optionally, the opponent can choose not to block with their Character cards. In which case, any damage will directly reduce the opponent’s Health Points.

Step 3: Calculate and Resolve Damage

To resolve damage, the defending Character’s Defense Value is subtracted from the Character’s Attack Value (Attack Value – Defense Value). The difference is the amount of damage taken.

Damage tokens are placed on the defending Character card. If the total damage is equal to or exceeds the Character card’s Health Points, the Character is defeated.

Step 4: Remove Defeated Characters

If the Character card is defeated, it’s removed from the game, along with the Item or Command card it was holding.

Step 5: Resolve Overkill

If the defeated Character took more damage than its current available Health Points, the amount of damage that exceeded the Character’s defeat is referred to as “Overkill Damage”. This damage reduces the player’s Health Points.

Step 6: Record Defense Decay

If the defending Character lived, it becomes fatigued, but only if it took damage from direct attack (damage from Abilities, Items, and Commands are ignored for this step). This is tracked by placing a Defense Decay token on the defending Character. This Character’s Defense Value is reduced by -5 for every Defense Decay they have. The Character’s Defense Value can never drop below 0.

Step 7: Gain Experience Points

If a Character is defeated, the Character that won (and survived) that battle earns experience points equal to the defeated Character’s level.

Step 8: Leveling Up

After all the battles have been completed and before the player ends their turn, the Characters that earned experience points receive the benefits listed on the player’s Terrain card. Benefits are recorded on the Character cards by placing new Ability, Attack, and Defense Bonus tokens. The current level is recorded using +Level tokens.

Things Not Covered

There are a number of little things not summarized and covered in this game review. Without going into detail about what each is (they are all covered in the game’s rule book, more or less), they are listed here.

  • Direct and unblockable attacks
  • Different types of damage (stab and battle)
  • Affiliation trigger abilities
  • Different types of triggered abilities
  • Status conditions (slow, stun, and silence)
  • Gained abilities (haste, stab, resourcefulness, and retaliate)
  • Passive and active abilities
  • Detailed instructions on how to customize a deck

A Victorious Battle!

Each player starts with 50 Health Points at the start of the game. The first player to reduce their opponent’s Health Points to “0” will win the match. If the player can defeat all the Characters defending the opponent, the player also wins the match. After every match, the game is reset and another match is started.

The first player to win 2 matches (not necessarily in a row) wins the game. No more than 3 matches should be played.

Game Variant

Terrene Odyssey can be play with up to 4 players taking turns smacking each other silly with their Characters. Or, if they prefer, 4 players can form 2 equal teams and battle against each other. Teams share a single 50 point Health pool and start with 3 Supply each, instead of 4. As allies, the team members resources are working together, taking turns in the game, alternating between teams and players.

To learn more about Terrene Odyssey, visit the game’s website.

Final Word

The Child Geeks had a hard time with this game. There’s just a lot to know and a lot to keep track of. The basic rules are not overly difficult, but the interaction between cards can be confusing even for the most veteran of gamers. The learning curve, as a result, was moderate for the Child Geeks (and for non-gamers), but not out of reach. The majority of the game must be learned while playing it. This causes, as you have guessed, confusion, delay, and long periods of time where both players try to figure out what the heck is going on. But it all starts to come together, as the Child Geeks found out. According to one Child Geek, “This game can be really confusing, but if you just take your time, keep track of what is happening, and be patient, it can be a lot of fun.” Another Child Geek said, “This game is way too much for me. I like what it is all about, but I can’t understand it most of the time.” When the games were over, the Child Geeks gave Terrene Odyssey mixed approval. The older and more experienced Child Geeks stuck with the game and found it very rewarding, while the younger and less experienced Child Geeks abandoned the game to go play something less frustrating.

My oldest

My oldest little geek reads his cards again and again to make sure he doesn’t miss using a special ability

The Parent Geeks were almost identical to the Child Geeks, but the learning curve was much easier. The Parent Geeks, regardless of their gaming background, were able to quickly grasp the basic concepts of the game and get to it. At its core, Terrene Odyssey is not an overly complicated game. What is complicated is keeping track of battles, which Character is doing what, and how to orchestrate a decisive strategic plan with tactical actions amidst a cloud of chaotic fury. That’s tough. According to one Parent Geek, “This game is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. If you don’t know how your cards interact, you’ll be hurting.” Another Parent Geek said, “There is a lot of game in the box. Too much, I think.” For the casual players and non-gamers, Terrene Odyssey was simply too much. For the Parent Geeks who enjoyed meatier games and crafting new decks, they were very pleased with the game and all that it offered. The final votes showed that the Parent Geeks were both loving and disliking Terrene Odyssey.

The Gamer Geeks had no problems learning the basics and getting a very solid grip on the more advanced rules. Solid, but not iron tight. They returned again and again to the game’s FAQ and still found themselves scratching their heads. Nothing stopped them, however, from continuing to play. The Gamer Geeks will always first look to the game to provide the answers. If they are not found there, they come up with their own. But this was seldom necessary as the unanswered questions not covered in the FAQ could be resolved by simply thinking things through. According to one Gamer Geek, “I am not surprised that not everything is covered and that we have questions. The game allows so much to happen that I think it’s impossible to document every possibility.” Another Gamer Geek said, “What I like most about this game is also what I like the least. Until you memorize the abilities provided by Characters, Command and Items, and from Terrain cards, you have to keep looking things up and reading. This slows down the game, but the game is good enough to make it worthwhile.” In fact, all the Gamer Geeks enjoyed themselves, even though they continued to grumble about the game going slower than they would like. The strategic game play, tactical decisions, and near limitless possibilities made all the Gamer Geeks smile.

Terrene Odyssey is a lot of game. I would never suggest it to a casual gamer, but I wouldn’t hesitate to introduce it to any player who was interested in learning how to play games where players build their own decks. Terrene Odyssey gives the player a lot of options. Too many some believed, but I disagree. There is no such thing as too many options when it comes to building your own deck. Players want the freedom to build what they think will work without being limited by artificial restrictions. Terrene Odyssey has no such limitations, which is also why it can be such a frustrating game at times. This is a game without borders, but it does have a flow. A flow, I must add, that is always broken once you start battling. That’s where the game jumps off its already rickety rails and goes careening int the wilderness. Battles are a very bumpy ride, but if the players stick with it, the game always comes back to less bumpy ground.

But, oh, my friends….the variety in Characters, Items, Commands, and Terrain is borderline overwhelming. So much to work with. It’s a great game for those interested in deck crafting. Just keep in mind that you are jumping into the deep end of the pool. I have yet to find its bottom.

I was most pleased with the game, finding it to be easy enough to learn and deep enough to keep my interest. This is also a game I will not be able to fully appreciate for months to come. The number of different ways to build decks and engage your opponent is staggering. Even when playing with the same deck, it has never been the same game twice. That’s good, because I would rather dislike always being forced to solve the same problem. If Terrene Odyssey sounds interesting, I recommend you give it a try. Especially if you like games where you get to create your own adventures…or misadventures, depending on how badly you botch your deck creation.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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