Crimson Company - Board Games Journal

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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Crimson Company

Crimson Company is a two-player dueling card game about drafting an army of sellswords that allows you to set up crazy combos and play mind games with your opponent. The players recruit Heroes into their armies and fight each other to gain control over the castles of a long-forgotten kingdom!

Designed by Fabio Fischer and Dario Reinhardt, the game is a skill-based card game with very little luck involved that rewards the player that makes the best decision. Unlike in traditional card games where cards are held in hand, there is no hidden information in this game. Everyone can see what cards are in play and what cards are coming next. This makes for a great challenge for both players, as you have to really pay attention to everything if you want to be the one who conquers the castles!

Full disclosure: A copy of Crimson Company Deluxe Edition and Crimson Company: The Other Side were provided by the game creator.


How to play

Inside the box of the Deluxe Edition of the game you will find the rulebook and a deck of cards, containing 30 Hero cards, 7 Castle cards and 2 reference cards. The box also contains 3 castle miniatures, a first player token and metal coins.
The quality of the components is top tier
Each Hero card has a special ability that is triggered on a player's turn during one of the phases (will talk about these later). These abilities are mandatory, and apply as long as the card is placed face-up in a lane (if the card is face-down, the ability can not be utilized). Each card also has a Strength value, depicted in a small circle in the corner.

The setup is as simple as it can be: choose 3 Castle cards and place them in the middle of the table. Shuffle the Hero cards, pick 4 of them and place them face up next to the remaining cards, and then reveal the top card of the deck. Lastly, decide who will be the first player and give them 3 coins. The second player gets 4 coins. That's it, you can now start playing.

Each turn goes through 4 phases:
  1. Income: The active player gets 3 coins
  2. Recruitment: The player bids for one of the four face-up Heroes; the opponent can choose to match the bid;
    •  If they do so, they get to place the card in front of them (but they don't get to play it yet) but you get your money back, along with his coins
    • If your opponent does not match your bid, the money does to the bank and you get to place the chosen Hero in front of you
  3. Deployment: If you have any cards in front of you, you must deploy them to any available lane
  4. Score: If any lane has at least 4 or more Heroes on any side, that lane is scored; the strength of the cards on each side is calculated and all the scoring abilities are activated;  the player with the higher Strength value conquers the lane and takes the Castle
The player reference card shortly describes the setup on one side and the turn overview on the other
Player alternate taking turns, bidding on Heroes and deploying them to lanes. Their goal is to be the first to conquer two lanes and win the game!

I am amazed by the quality of the components! The artwork is well thought, the cards are easy to read and the design is pretty intuitive. No matter what side of the table you're on, you won't have any trouble reading a card's ability.

I love the metal coins, I constantly find myself fiddling with them when it's my opponent's turn. They just feel so much better compared to the cardboard tokens that you usually get in other games. 

Crimson Company: The Other Side Expansion

The Other Side Expansion content
This is the first expansion of the game and it comes with 21 Hero cards and 2 Castle cards. The theme of the expansion revolves around a world beyond life and death. The new Hero cards focus on Destroy and Flip abilities, giving the players new possibilities to trick their opponents.

After playing a few games with just the base deck, adding the new cards to the deck opened up so many new combo possibilities! You can hurt your opponent so bad if you manage to chain these cards well! As the new cards have many Destroy and Flip abilities, everything becomes more dangerous now and you have to really pay attention to the market for these cards. Some of these cards can be real game changers, if played well! I often found myself using these cards to wipe through my opponent's lanes, clearing them or flipping them, in order to make sure that I win the lane! 

Thoughts

There's so much to say about this game, I have no idea what to start with! Crimson Company may seem simple at a first glance, but it is deeper than it seems to be. At core, it is a game based on card drafting and bidding, which may sound pretty light for some. However, the game delivers more than that. It is a game of mental dominance, you have to find ways to control your opponent and lure him into your traps, while also trying not to fall into his!

There is no hidden information in Crimson Company, as both players have access to the same information: they can both see what Heroes are available on the market, what Hero is coming up and how much money each player has. This allows you to plan your moves ahead and set up nice combos to destroy your opponent. However, keep in mind that your opponent can do the same against you!
How the table usually looks during gameplay
Sometimes there is a lot of thinking and analyzing moves: what card would be beneficial for you? How much should you bid for it? Will your opponent match the bid? If he does and that card helps him a lot, would that be a game breaker for you? Should you bid for a different card to trick him and wait for him to bid for the card you want and then match his bid? But what if you won't be able to match his bid? There are some of the questions that I often ask myself while playing this game. However, I enjoy that a lot!

The main thing that got me interested in this game is the ability to set up combos to trick your opponent. Being able to set traps and trick your opponent to fall into them is one thing I enjoy a lot in games! However, as much as I'd like to think that I'm a good combo maker, I've actually been tricked by others more than I tricked them. You need to pay a lot, and I mean A LOT of attention to the cards on the table, whether on lanes or on the market, or otherwise you're gonna get smacked hard!

When I first played this game with my girlfriend, I thought I'll win easily. I have a lot of experience building combos in card games, I played the game many times already, what are the chances she'd beat me? Well, guess what? She did! And she tricked me so good, that I ended up literally laughing at myself for 5 minutes. This showed me that Crimson Company is as good for newbies as it can be for experienced people.
The game can be played on phone too
If you're not sure whether the game fits you, I have some good news for you! The game is available on Google Play for free! You can play against real opponents or against the AI and see how the game works! I've downloaded the app and I often play the game when I'm on my way to work, as games are pretty fast, taking less than 20 minutes.

Crimson Company is a very good 2-player game due to its competitive nature, especially if you like aggressive games! You will totally enjoy it if you're a fan of games that rely on setting up combos such as Dominion or Ninjitsu!, as I do. 

Useful info

Designers: Fabian Fischer & Dario Reinhardt
Publisher: Crimson Company
Players: 2
Time: 20 min
Times played: 11

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