Goblin Grapple is a current Kickstarter game that takes the card game War and goblinifies it. We take a look at the game to see if it's worth backing by playing the recently-released Tabletopia version of the base game.
War: Goblin Grapple is effectively War re-imagined with some basic base building and some very light card powers. The game also supports four players which differentiates it from standard War.
What We Liked
The art for the game is good. There's not a lot of cards, but the goblins that are featured have nice painted artwork. Additionally, the card design and playmat (in Tabletopia) is nice.
What Could Be Improved
Generally our "Standout Mechanics" and "What We Liked" sections are much longer in these reviews. Unfortunately, there's not much to talk about with Goblin Grapple.
Not Many Cards: the base game is only a 52 card deck with 5 card types. Technically there are 7 card types, but 2 cards are exactly the same (besides the artwork) so strategically they play the same role. In fact, the basic game of War has more card variation than Goblin Grapple. What this means is you can effectively get a hand of five cards that is entirely the same card. This is not a fun scenario. This lack of variety is purportedly to increase the odds of ties, ensuring more Wars happen. The tie clashes are not particularly fun. It does appear that they are adding more cards via the Kickstarter, but this leads us to the next point...
Not Well Balanced: the cards that do have powers in the game are not well-balanced or thought out. For instance, the Goblin Spy effectively makes it so if you are first player, you get to steal all other Goblin Spies in other player's hands. The "1" card is a blocker; there is absolutely no reason you would play the blocker to the field. One point is practically worthless, and as long as you hold it in your hand, it's impossible for an opponent to steal any cards from you.
Way Too Much Luck: when you take the attack action you are doing so with zero information on what your opponent has in their base. You can't even really infer what's in there based on what your opponent has played because the cards you get are completely random. It's not quite as random as War, because you have the option to make three different actions on your turn. However, there is rarely, if any opportunity to make a strategic move.
Notes on the Tabletopia Version
We do have kind words for the Tabletopia adaptation. The card artwork and playmats are high quality. Additionally, the rule book is actually written with Tabletopia in mind, which is extremely rare for a Kickstarter game on the platform.
One thing that is confusing on the cards is that the flavor text is identical font & style to the powers text. I assume this will change at some point before release.
Time to Learn: About 5 minutes of reading the rule book.
Price: It's $15 for the base game shipped, via Kickstarter.
Thom: 3 / 10 (Bad - likely won't play this gain.)
Jinko: 3 / 10 (Bad - likely won't play this gain.)
Brendan: 2 / 10 (Very Bad - won't play ever again.)
Kickstarter Verdict: Definitely not backing this one. While this is a better game than War, it's lacking card variety and strategy, and I'm not sure why someone would want to remake War (War has a 2.2 BGG rating.)
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