I like to consider myself as a board gamer that loves to play & any all games put placed on the table at least once. Even if I continually lose I will still play a game unless it is so bad it actually leaves a bad taste in my mouth. With that said I love big games with bite or small games with a lot of punch. And I will tell you I have found a little game that packs one heck of a punch.

From designers Angela Hickman Newnham & Julian Leiberan-Titus comes Riftwalker: A Storm Hollow Card Game. I love games with an interesting backstory. In Riftwalker a player takes on the role of a Riftwalker, explorers who travel through rifts, using the magical powers of elements to reshape the land.

Riftwalker is for two to four players, ages 10 years to adult, & may take around thirty to forty-five minutes to play. It is currently on Kickstarter & will be published by Game Salute.

Learning to play is simple yet the strategy of playing is complex. I already love it, a game that makes you think about your next move. Lets quickly start with setup. Someone will shuffle the fifteen element cards, then will deal out nine of those in a 3×3 grid. The six cards left over will form the Element deck. Next each player will receive three Rift cards into their hands. The leftover Rift cards will form the Rift deck.

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Play is simple but complex because to win the game a player must have the most points after a certain number of Rift cards are “burst”. Of course the number varies by how many people are playing the game.

On a player’s turn they will have four steps in order to take: Element, Rift, Burst, & Refresh.

In the Element phase a player can choose to do one of two things. They could take the power of one of the elements shown, then flipping the card over, thus changing the element to the other element denoted by the smaller elemental symbols. Or they could take the top element card from the Element deck, using the power of the element from either side, then switching it out with one of the cards from the grid. If a player decides to do this they take the switched card & place it on the bottom of the Element deck.

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In the Rift phase a player will either explore or shift a rift. A player with no cards on the table will ultimately want to explore by matching the element’s power they took with one in their hand placing it face-up in front of them. If the rift has a power it will activate. Now if that player already has a rift in play they could decide to use the elemental power to “shift” the rift. This allows the player to rotate that rift showing the number of points that rift is worth. Once shifted that rift will activate it’s power.

The Burst phase is going to be one of the most important phases a player will need to remember to do. Not being able to burst after four or five turns could set a player back. In the Burst phase the active player will look at the 3×3 grid to see if any of the elements match in a line of three. Think of it as elemental tic-tac-toe. When this happens that player will be able to match that element with one of their rifts already on the table. They can then burst the rift & place it to the side gaining those points active from shifting the rift.

Then the active player will enter the Refresh phase. This allows the player to discard as many cards from their hands as they want. They will draw back up to three cards from the Rift deck.

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The game ends when one player bursts the amount of rifts needed. In a two player game it seven, three player game it is six, & a four player game is five. Once this happens each other player gets one more turn. Once players are finished the scoring phase takes place.

Some rifts may have bonus points to score. These points will score at the end of the game during scoring phase. The winner is the player with the most points.

Riftwalker may take thirty or more minutes to play but it goes by quickly. The game has a smooth flow to it. The strategy can be deep & complex because setting up a burst may change with the players constantly watching what their opponents have sitting in front of them.

You can go to their Kickstarter page: Riftwalker: A Storm Hollow Card Game. It is definitely a bargain at $15. Riftwalker is going right into my travel kit.

Lets get ready to harness the power of the elements as we shift some rifts & game on!

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW

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