The first Tabletop game I really got into was Magic: The Gathering. It wasn't just the flavour or the play itself that interested me . The deck building mechanic, ie finding your own way to win, really appealed to me. Particularly drafts, where each player is given a booster pack which is passed on after one card is removed. The idea was that you didn't know what you were going to build, even as you were building it, and it still had to function within the game. Of course, Magic was not a perfect game. There was a lot problems including reliance on random chance when it came to being able to play the cards in your hand, there's a sizable cash investment just to get started and if you've not been playing for long, your chances of winning against an experienced player drop dramatically. Welcome then, to Seasons, which keeps a lot of the spirit of Magic alive while fixing some of the more broken aspects.
The theme for Seasons is a 4 way wizard's dual over a period of three years. The wizard who gets the most "Crystals" (points) at the end of the three years wins. The years are divided into 4 Seasons (Hello title drop) of three months each. Each season comes with a set of coloured dice and this is where Season's genius shines through. The dice provide you with resources (Mana for you Magic players) which are spent to cast spells (Cards from hand), or can be transmuted into crystals. Depending on the dice being rolled, different resources are available. For example Fire is quite rare in winter, and therefore can be transmuted for more crystals. The dice also offer cards from the central Draw Deck, and even straight up crystals, but by far the most important resource is Summoning. Summoning allows you to cast your spells. The amount of summoning available to you is equal to the amount of cards you have in front of you. It's often the first thing to go as dice are picked in turn order.
The cards are where you get the most flavour in the game, which is as it should be for a deck builder. They range from magical objects that assist when conditions are met to creatures that actively attack and steal from your opponents. The artwork is fantastic throughout the game, but in the cards is where it really shines. A lot of effort has gone into the design of each card both artistically and mechanically. The game lends itself to combos and rewards knowledge of each of the cards. The real skill in this game comes from making the most of the random draws from dice. Knowing what cards you have cued up from the draft and how they will interact with the card you just drew can win you the game. This translates to the game getting better every time you play it, but it does have the unfortunate side effect of making it very difficult to get into if you're playing with experienced people determined to win. In fact, there's a lot to make it a bit unfriendly to the unfamiliar.
A few advanced techniques are available off the bat. These are mostly about sacrificing crystals, to be paid at the end of the game and oftentimes haven't yet been earned yet, for a bonus to summoning or transmuting. They are easy to misuse. But of all the complicated mechanics in this game (and this game is HEAVY with complex mechanics) The draft probably the one that will intimidate new players the most, especially those not familiar with deck building. For those unfamiliar with how a draft works, it's basically take one card, pass the rest on. It's pretty obvious how intimidating that can be for someone not familiar with the game. Luckily there are instructions on how to play a "beginner" game that lets this part slide. It's actually quite easy to get a decent score by simply playing cards, meaning that even if you are new to the game you won't feel like you're losing.
Seasons is, in conclusion, a great game. It's very solid mechanically, beautiful to look at and has enough hooks to grab onto. There's something for everybody from the casual sometimes player to the hardcorest of the hardcore. I highly recommend
Grab pen and paper, a dice bag and a bunch of tokens, and settle in here to chat about your real-world gaming activities.
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