The game unfolds in the unhinged and chaotic realm of Luridia, "a fantasy world gone horribly wrong". Some of the themes are adult in nature, so the publisher recommends that everyone who plays be at least 13 years of age (the game is fairly complex, so little kids probably wouldn't be drawn to it anyway). I found the cards to be of good quality stock and the imagery didn't bother me - I found the violence more comical than disturbing, and in the box I received there were alternative "staple resources" cards for those who might wish to replace the regular ones, which depict beautiful (and strategically draped) women.
You'll start the game with a card representing the Faction to which you belong - you're a member of a like-minded group who share common goals. Each Faction card gives unique abilities you can use during the game, on your turn or even sometimes on your opponent's turn. You build your deck using the cards of the five professions, or "Trades" in the game: Warlord, Banker, Arcanist, Gearsmith, and Rogue. You play cards by spending resource cards. Card types are as follows:
- Character cards: you use characters to attack your opponent's faction.
- Location cards: locations and items stay in play and confer specific advantages.
- Tactics: tactics cards are one-time-use and cause a powerful effect to surprise your opponent and hopefully turn the tide of battle.
So what's new about The Spoils? The luck of the draw will be a factor in any card game, but The Spoils has some good ideas to keep you in control. Here are some of the innovations that make it more strategic and less random than other TCGs:
- You always start out with two resources in play. In other games you could find yourself screwed from the outset and unable to play a card - this alleviates that.
- Players can use any card and play it face down as a resource, so even if you do not draw actual resource cards, you can still build more resources to play more cards. You always have options.
- The game employs a partial "mulligan" system to "recycle" worthless cards with no penalty (As a one-time action, you may take any number of your opening hand cards, place them on the bottom of your deck and draw back up to a full hand).
- A “Threshold Icon” system is used to unlock the ability to play cards. This system makes it easier to play the cards in your hand and opens a lot more room for deck building options.
- There is no maximum hand size. Hoard as many cards as you think you will need.
- You do not lose the game if you cannot draw a card.
Your mileage may vary, but I enjoyed The Spoils' madcap aesthetic of anthropomorphic animals, semi-comical violence and off-beat humor. This combined with a gameplay system that improves how this type of game works, makes for a game that any fan of collectible card games.should definitely take a look at.