Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Wednesday 17 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Volfyirion

Game: Volfyirion

Publisher: Tabula Games

Designer: Federico Tini, Alessandro Veracchi

Year: 2019

Volfyirion is a competitive deck-building card game for two players. With two key paths to victory, will you lead your house into war, destroying your opponent's cities or will you be strong enough to harness the power of the dragon Volfyirion and have it wreak havoc against your enemies?

Volfyirion is coming to Kickstarter during October 2018, from Tabula games - who had a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. Volfyirion has a similar setting and art style to Mysthea and even the opportunity to back a dragon miniature that can be used in both games. So, let's find out what Volfyirion brings to the deck-building genre and see if it's a two-player game that you should look out for!


Volfyirion will immediately feel familiar to people who have played a handful of deckbuilding games. You begin each game with a deck of 8 basic cards and 2 slightly more specialised, but still fairly basic cards. Most of these cards give you a currency which you use to buy new cards from a central supply of 5 cards. When you buy a card it is added to your discard, and when you don't have enough cards to draw to the full hand of 5 cards you shuffle your discard to form a new draw deck. Much like many deckbuilders there are a few different colours of cards. Many cards give you powerful bonuses if you play them at the same time as other coloured cards allowing your deck to become exponentially better as it fills with upgraded cards from the market.

Where Volfyirion is different is in it's route to victory, each player has 3 cities, should you manage to raze all of your opponents cities then you win the game. Cities have a defence value varying from 8-10, which represents the amount of combat you need in order to destroy that city. This can further be bolstered by adding a guard to the city, in addition each city may house 1 building which is a card that remains in play until your city is destroyed.

But direct combat isn't the only way to destroy cities, for the great dragon Volfyirion has a lair nearby. You can use your combat prowess to raid his lair for relics (letting you trim your deck and adding more cards that stay in play) or even destroy the creature once and for all, adding his lair to your realm as a new city. Should you not be feeling brave you can use knowledge to trick the dragon into razing your opponents cities for you, while you are at it you can also use your knowledge to disable their artifacts or trash cards that your opponent might want from the market.

Finding the right balance between these two routes to victory is key, you certainly need to put some form of defence into play against your opponents strategy. To this end you will find many cards, including guards, can be permanently removed from your deck in exchange for a quick bolster in knowledge or combat for a round. Of course sacrificing your guards leaves your cities defenceless, so you have to balance out offence and defence too.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Volfyirion is a direct combat deckbuilder, which reminds me much of Star Realms. Where Star Realms only has 1 route to winning (having a strong enough attack to deplete your opponent's health), Volfyirion has two, you can either use combat or use the dragon. This requires you to hone your deck from an early stage to focus on one or the other, although a combination of both can be viable in some situations. 

The Relics earned from Volfyirion's lair are actually relatively weak, but since claiming them lets you trash a card from your deck you are often replacing 1 weak card with another. But since artifacts don't get discarded at the end of a round you are usually getting better and better turns as the game goes on. Early on it can seem near impossible to destroy a city with 8 defence, but late game trashing a guarded city with a total defence of 14 can be quite achievable. This build in power is very satisfying, particularly when you get a turn where every card seems to combo off every other.

Ultimately Volfyirion doesn't make a huge change to the world of deckbuilding, most of the concepts are very familiar to anything who has played a deckbuilding game before. But this doesn't result in a bad game. Volfyirion's multiple victory paths allow for a win to be pulled out even if it feels like you are lagging behind. Sometimes it felt like the game dictated my stratagy for me simply by what cards are available in the market, for example if it's filled with cards that are too expensive, or clogged up with guards, you have little choice what to buy. In addition the art style didn't speak to me, while it wasn't in any way bad, much like Dominion all your focus is on what the card does, with little card for what it is thematically or what it looks like.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Volfyirion operates very similarly to many traditional deck-building games, but over the course of a few games we began to appreciate how the game works to set itself apart in this crowded design space. There are a fewof ways Volfyirion successfully achieves this;

First, each player has three cities and they can only be destroyed in a single blow. This means that the early stage of the game really is about building a really effective deck - if you do this really efficiently you might be able to deal a blow before your opponent builds up their defence with soldiers guarding the city, but more likely is that they'll have time to defend.

Secondly, there are three different 'currencies' in the game, compared to the typical two in many simple deck-builders - one to buy new cards, one to attack and one to mess with your opponent and control the eponymous dragon. It's often easier to build up 8 knowledge points and place the dragon on your opponents city, without having to get round their guard, but then your opponent gets one chance to defend and force the dragon to retreat. We've seen victories through both military and knowledge dominance, but it's best to not leave yourself completely open to knowledge attacks by the dragon!

Finally, I love how effective it is to trim your deck in the game. Making your deck specialised and awesome is really one of the joys of deck-building games for me and Volfyirion offers you lots of opportunities to trash cards, when you add glory cards to your deck and by triggering combo abilities, or by trashing one card from your play area to allow you to trash a second. This third way makes it really quick to get to a point where you're really happy with the hands you draw, but also gives you tough decisions on whether to trash a helpful card in your play area, perhaps leaving you weaker and more defenceless for a couple of turns.

Volfyirion is a compact 2-player deck-building game that does offer something new to the genre. I wouldn't say that the game is something earth shatteringly new, but it's definitely worth checking out on Kickstarter if you're looking for a new deck-building game for your collection.

You might like...
  • Both paths to victory feel well balanced and predicting the path your opponent is working towards can be key during the game.
  • Combos are a big part of the game, and can sometimes trigger huge turns that are very satisfying but not too overpowered.
  • Having three city bases to destroy makes the game quite unique from other two player deckbuilders where you have to take the other player's health to zero.

You might not enjoy...
  • The art style in the game wasn't really for us - it didn't really bring any theme into our game without significant closer inspection of the cards beyond their symbology.
  • The total number of cards in the set is quite small and we saw 50-75% of the deck in each game. More variety would be welcome.

The Verdict
Volfyirion offers a twist on deck-building with two very clear paths to victory and a strong sense of progression during the game, as you build your forces to knock-out whole cities in a single turn. The Kickstarter is a great value, small box two-player game, that we recommend checking out.

Volfyirion was a review copy provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective. It will be live on Kickstarter on October 17th 2018.

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