Title: Wild Realms
Designed By: Jeremy Gulotta
Art by: Jeremy Gulotta
Published By: Daywalker Syndicate
Released: On Gamefound November 2021
Player Count: 2-4
Time to Play: 50-70 Minutes
The time of humans has come to pass and animals are taking back the land. In Wild Realms, players collect sets of animals in order to try and gain dominance over the four realms of air, land, water, and fire.
How to Play:
The goal of Wild Realms is to be the first player to lock all four realms in your land. In order to lock a realm, you need to have one of each of the five animal types, one of whom must be a leader.
In Wild Realms, players will start by taking one of the player boards and the deck that matches. All the decks have the same cards in them, so no need to worry about asymmetry or picking a specific deck. Take a realm card that matches your player board and put it face-up on the space on the board. Shuffle the deck and place it on the "deck" slot of the board. Have each player draw five cards from the deck. Put the legendary animal deck and the dice in between all players and you are ready to go.
Whoever most recently pet an animal goes first.
Players will take their turn and then play will move on to the next clockwise player. A player's turn consists of four parts. First is unleash a legendary beast. If a player has this card and wishes to use it, they play it and take the top card of the legendary beast deck. They then must choose one of the two actions to take. Next, the player plays cards adding them to their realm or alliance. Then is the attack phase. This is where players can attack other players' realms or alliances using their own alliance or engaging in a real duel if you and another player both have a locked realm. Finally is the wrap-up phase where you can move around animals in your realm, discard any cards in your hand that you want, and draw back up to five cards. Play then passes to the person to the left.
This continues until one player locks their fourth and final realm. At this point, the game ends immediately and that person is the new ruler of the realms.
What's purr-ty cool:
The biggest thing that immediately drew us to Wild Realms was the artwork. Wild Realms features incredible animal illustrations on the cards. There are over 60 unique animals in the game. One really cool thing about the art is that it is done in what is known as the Modern Mehndi style. In this style, the lines are not purely decorative, they are placed to mirror the curvature of the muscle, feather, and fur of the real-life animal. There is such a wild variety of creatures in the game, that it is super fun to look at while you play.
We also enjoyed the set collection aspect of the game. As all of the animals have their own unique abilities, you need to manage where to best place them in your realm. Each realm needs one of five types of animals to be locked, but it also needs a leader. However, leaders are also needed in order to attack, so do you use your limited leaders to bulk up your animal army first, or do you focus on trying to quickly lock a realm before anyone gets a chance to attack it.
As each animal has its own ability, you also have to think about do you wish to use an animal's ability for attacking, or is it better served trying to close out a set. We love the legendary creatures for the randomness that they add to the game. While legendary creatures are primarily helpful to the user, sometimes they do have negative effects, which means you must weigh how much you are willing to risk when playing one. The fact that legendary creatures have two options to choose from also helps to mitigate the randomness a little by giving its player a choice in their fate.
Lastly, we thought the catch-up mechanic of realm duels was a neat idea. It is kind of like a chance to gamble, you can risk your realm if you want to win quickly, or if you are trying to stop someone from winning but have no other way to do it. You basically bet your realm against theirs, whoever comes out on top gets to keep both realms. The winner of the duel is up to the fate of the dice.
Wild Realms is a good choice for players who enjoy luck mixed with strategy. While players can choose their actions from a variety of options, ultimately the outcomes of those actions are heavily luck-dependent based on dice rolls. You can pick cards that give you a better chance at getting the numbers you need, but sometimes you still get unlucky. Wild Realms is also good for players who enjoy games where there is a chance of being close to victory only to get your plan messed with by others. Player's can target whomever they want, which means that if one player is too far ahead, all other players can gang up and attack them. this is what adds to the longer playing time for Wild Realms. Just because you are behind initially, does not mean that you will stay that way for the entire game An early lead does not necessarily guarantee a win.
The cat's meow:
"Mom tried so hard to keep me from stealing the dice, but it didn't work. I was determined to show off my wild animal skills by hitting them everywhere. Enjoy this photo of me staring at the dice after mom picked them up so I would get out of the photo of the game." - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a prototype copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author. As this is a prototype, the final product may be different than exactly what is shown for review.