Title: Crimson Company (and first expansion: The Other Side)
Designed By: Fabian Fischer and Dario Reinhardt
Art By: Sebastian Walter and Janna Sophia
Published By: Crimson Company
Released: 2020 (3rd expansion coming spring 2021)
Player Count: 2
Time to Play: 10-45 Minutes
Stuck inside with only one other person to play games with? Tired of games that claim they are made for two players, but really need 4? No problem! We have a cool new game for your two-player game nights. Crimson Company is a two-player card drafting game, where players bid on cards to create the strongest armies and take over the most castles. Crimson Company isn't a game for a range of players, or 1-2 players, it is just two players, so everything is balanced just right for the next night you and your gaming buddy want a game made to play well with just for you two. In fact, it might just be the first two-player only game that we have ever played.
Crimson Company can be opened, learned and ready to go in less than 10 minutes. It comes in a nice compact box (which could totally fit an expansion or two, if you didn't feel like carrying extra boxes with you) and isn't a table hog, making it easy to play pretty much wherever you are. The game itself can take anywhere from 10-45 minutes, depending on the cards that come into play (and how long you take to think through a turn). Most of our games were around the 20-25 minute mark.
The goal of Crimson Company is to be the first person to capture two castles. To get started have players sit across from each other and lay out the three castles inbetween them. These will be considered lanes. Place the coins within easy reach of both players. Shuffle the deck, deal out three cards and flip the deck face up next to the cards dealt out. The three cards not in the deck will be "on offer" the card face up on the deck will be on deck for after one of the offer cards is taken. The first player starts with 3 coins and the second player starts with 4. Once players have their coins they are ready to begin!
Players turns consist of 4 phases that happen sequentially.
Income - Player one starts their turn by gaining 3 coins
Recruitment - During this phase, the players who's turn it is decides which card they would like from the offer on the table and places at least one coin on it. This player can place any number of coins higher than 1 on the card they choose. The other player then has two choices: put as many coins on the card as the first player did or pass. If player two passes, player one gets the card and the coins they paid for it are returned to the pile. If player two matches player one's coins then player two gets to take the card, but player one gets to keep all the coins on the card.
Deployment Player one plays all the cards they have in front of them (max of two). Cards can be played to any lane on the players side of the board that they choose and cards may be played in whatever order the player prefers. When a card is deployed it's effect is activated. Some effects, such as deployment effects happen immediatly. Other events will happen when specific events occur, such as when a card is destroyed, when scoring happens, or during the income phase of a players turn. Players will need to keep track of their cards to make sure they get all the benefits that come with activation.
Score - Check all lanes to see if any lane has 4 or more cards on a players side. If so the castle is scored. Whichever side of the castle has more attack power wins the castle.
Play continues back and forth between players until a player collects two castles.
That's it! Straight-forward, simple, fun! Crimson Company was a game that we thoroughly enjoyed getting to play. It's rulebook is easy to read, has lots of pictures to help players understand set up and gameplay, contains a section for frequently asked questions, and has card effect clarifications. It even has a whole sequence of pictures for an example turn. Once we learned the basics, we really didn't need to reference the rules during gameplay.
The cards themselves are clear and easy to understand what is supposed to happen when you play each. While we are speaking of cards, we have to mention how gorgeous the artwork for Crimson Company is. We love the diversity of characters from the fantasy world. Characters come in all shapes, sizes, colors and species. As a female, one thing that particualy stood out to me in a good way, was that all the female characters were not over sexualized and wearing nothing but skimpy boobie armor. There is a whole host of different females in the deck and the artwork for them is wonderful. We also appreciated that characters varied between cute and creepy. A lot of games that take place in the fantasy world focus heavily on groteque or creepy monsters; Crimson Company has a good balance in it's cast of characters. We also appreciated that characters varied between cute and scary.
Characters abilities are also interesting. There are many different abilties and actions that could impact gameplay depending on the cards drafted by each player. In addition to the base game, we had the opportunity to check out the first expansion to Crimson Company called Crimson Company The Other Side. The expansion adds even more characters into the game, creating even more choices when it comes to card drafting and a player's strategy.
What is really cool with the expansion is that it is designed to be used however you want. You can shuffle all the expansion cards in with the base game and make a giant game with lots of choices, or you can pick your favorite cards between the base game and the expansion and play with that. We haven't tried it yet, but we really want to try and make a deck of cards that involve a lot of flipping cards around. We think the chaos that could ensue for a flip heavy deck could be great!
The expansion also includes extra castles with bonus effects that trigger during the game. This adds a neat twist for players looking to mix up their game.
There is a lot to this little game and it is a great introduction to those interested in playing a card drafting game for the first time. It's strategic, without being overly complex. Perfect for an after work game, or a game on the go!
For players looking to expand their game even more, there is a second expansion already available and a third expansion will be launching in 2021. You can sign up to get notified of the 2021 Kickstarter launch here.
You can also find out more about Crimson Company here. Oh! Lastly, if you are an Android user, you can download an app version of Crimson Company in the Google play store!