My d4 D.I.C.E. review can be found here
Bellum Sacrum is a two player competitive, quick playing, card game from designer Anthony Gibbins and published Bow String Games.
In Bellum Sacrum the gods of Mount Olympus, who apparently have a lot of spare time on their hands, hone their skills on the battle field. Each player has an identical deck of 42 cards. The deck has 10 different types of cards, identified by their roman numeral, colour and the name of a Roman God. The strength of the card will dictate how many there are in the deck.
The different types of cards have an attack and defence value as well as a unique invocation power. On a players turn they can perform four out of the possible five actions. These include
- Drawing five cards from their deck
- Deploying cards in to their battle column (consisting of a front, middle and back row)
- Attacking – either unsupported (using the warrior at the front of the column) or supported (using the unit behind the front warrior to bolster the attack value of the front warrior)
- Strengthening – adding card of the same colour/type to already placed cards
- Invoking – discarding a card from your hand to activate the special power.
During an attack you compare your attack value (adding in any “supporting” units if used) to the defence value of your opponents warrior at the front of the column. If you are equal or greater than the opponents warriors are removed from the column.
If at any point in the game one of the players has no warriors in their column the opposing player takes a trophy card. The first player to get five trophy cards is the winner.
Quick playing, small box, two player card games are always of interest to me.
I like how each player starts off with an identical set of cards and these, and only these, are the cards that they are going to have access to throughout the game. There is randomness in what cards you are going to draw, but when drawing five cards for one action players are going to get through their decks. As this is not a deck builder with a common market the randomness that is often seen in these type of cards games is not present here.
I like the battle column mechanism and the feeling that your warriors are marching forward to battle. The units behind being the support just like they would be in a real life Roman battle. When the front warriors are defeated the units behind move up and are ready for the fight. Very interesting and cool mechanism that I think sits well with the theme of the game.
The invocation powers are varied for each of the cards, with some of them being situational depending on hand limit or trophy count. But there is always the decision as to whether the cards should be deployed on to the battlefield or used for their abilities. Some of these abilities can also be blocked by your opponent if they discard the matching colour card. So careful timing of when to play these is critical as if they are blocked you it still costs the player an action.
Careful planning of your actions, when to invoke, when to deploy units and when to attack is key to success. There is some randomness in the draw but it is such a quick playing game it doesn’t feel like it hinders the game. One thing that I am not a fan of (and this is just my personal preference) is the artwork. The faceless warriors just didn’t do it for me, but it didn’t bother me as I was mainly paying attention to the unit type, colour and the power. So the artwork was not a huge issue. I have had fun with Bellum Sacrum and often playing the best of three rounds in a single session.
Please note – Bellum Sacrum was provided as a review copy from Bow String Games.