Swordcrafters by Adam’s Apple Games – Preview

Theme and What is it?

The ancient Sword Of Protection has broken. The realm is still safe…for now. The king has assembled the most skilled sword smiths in the entire kingdom. You are one of the few who have been chosen. Now you must work to craft a replacement for the Sword Of Protection and help maintain lasting peace. Can you build the best sword and have your name go down in history as the person who saved the realm?

Swordcrafters is an abstract tile drafting game in which players build 3D swords and compete to build the longest and most magical sword.

Gameplay Mechanics

Each player starts with a hilt and receives two guards that have gemstones on them. Three magic cards are randomly drawn from a deck. These magic cards show what bonuses are available to players with the most of certain gemstones. The sword tiles are stuffed and set in a few stacks. Each player takes a color token and then adds their player marker to the score card. Now everyone is set up and ready to play. 

Swordcrafters is a tile drafting game. At the beginning of each round, a grid of tiles is laid out in the middle of the table. Beginning with the first player of that round, each player makes a cut in the grid. These cuts must slice a group of tiles in two. The slice cannot change directions mid slice and must travel through all available tiles. As sections of the grid are sliced, move them over so you know they have been cut. After each player has made a slice, the first player selects a group of tiles and that selection process continues for each player. Players now use the selected tiles to build their swords. Only two sides of the sword are scoreable, so players need to make sure they are using tiles that will help score more points during this construction phase. Inside the tile grid is an anvil tile. This tile allows the person who selects it to become the first player for the next round. Play continues for six rounds. At the end of round six, players hold their swords up and the player with the longest sword scores victory points. Points are also awarded for quality of the sword. This is determined by the number of identical gemstones that are adjacent to each other on the scoring sides of the sword. Third, points are awarded from the magic cards to players who have the most gemstones that match the ones depicted on the cards. The player with the most points, wins the game.

Initial Impressions

Swordcrafters just looks cool. Seeing pictures of it floating around made me really excited to try it out. Once I got a copy, I couldn’t wait to play. First of all, let me tell you, there is a lot of board to punch out. That is not a bad thing at all. I took my time because there are small pieces that have to be removed where the tiles interlock with each other. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. Once I had it all done, we set up for a game. It was awesome to hold the hilt of the sword knowing that soon the blade would be built. The way you slice and select tiles was a fun mechanic. It made the rounds not feel repetitive because people were always making different cuts and trying new things. After a few rounds each player had the beginning of a sword. It took about half the game before everyone was figuring out what to do when crafting the sword to score points. By that point, a few players were already well in the lead because they understood the game earlier. Our first game ended up being very lopsided. But even the people that were way in last place enjoyed the game and had fun checking out their finished swords. 

Game Build Quality

Since this game is one where the pieces are being used to construct swords, I would expect the quality to be very high. I was glad to see this when I started to punch out the cardboard. Pieces are thick and well made. Once the sword gets going everything locks in place and the sword is very sturdy. You don’t want to run around smacking each other with them or anything like that. But if you take care of them, the pieces should last a very long time. One issue I had is that the box did not fit all the tiles the way it was designed. It is actually a great design and was well thought out. My problem is that the row that holds the tiles is not long enough to fit all 91 tiles. It only holds about 88 before it starts pushing the edges of the box out. It was not a huge issue. There is enough room in another spot in the box to place these tiles that do not fit. I was just bummed that the storage was well thought out just not well executed. If I was awarding stars for this game I would not remove any because of this.

Artistic Direction

The art is not the focal point of this game. Building a freakin’ sword is! Yet, the art is done very well. The outside of the box is eye-catching and captures the theme of the game. The sword tiles and hilts look like sword parts with gems in them. Not anything fancy but they do what they are supposed to. The approach to everything feels slightly minimalist and I like that.

Fun Factor

For me Swordcrafters felt very outside the box. Sure, there are familiar elements to the game, but the end result is a tangible 3D object that does not feel gimmicky. It has some weight to it and isn’t on the verge of falling apart. The game plays very quickly. And the way rounds are set up everyone feels involved because there is very little down time. Players are either slicing, selecting or placing their tiles. Our first few games were five player games. The games lasted no more than a half hour and everyone really enjoyed crafting their swords. I played with both adults and kids (I will discuss this more below) and Swordcrafters was a huge hit with everyone.

Age Range & Weight

The age suggestion for Swordcrafters is 6+. I did play with my six-year-old son and he did OK with the game. He never really figured out a strategy but and we ended up coaching him on where to place his tiles once we saw him struggling with it. That didn’t phase him at all. He loved playing and thought it was an awesome game and has asked to play it every time its family game time. My one issue with having kids so young play, and maybe it is just because I know he can destroy stuff, is the construction part of the game. I want the game to stay in the best condition possible. Swordcrafters has lots of pieces that slide tightly together. Sometimes it took me an extra moment to fit the piece in without it doing damage to itself or another piece. I was scared my boy would just jam pieces together without taking his time. After seeing him try that, I told him to pick his tiles and then tell me where he wanted to place them.  I would put it together for him. When it was together, I would give it back to him because it was secure enough for him to hold. It was the crafting that had me worried. He was upset for a minute, but then when he saw the beginnings of the sword, he forgot all about it.

Conclusions

There is plenty of awesomeness involved in Swordcrafters. Obviously, constructing a sword is the best part, but the whole experience revolves around that so it is an all-around fun experience. Some of my minor issues with the box and storing the tiles are a small thing compared to getting to hold a finished sword in your hand. The components are top of the line and built to stand up to the process of crafting and taking the swords apart. The game should have great replay value. It has held up well for us and my kids still ask to play it.  I am very happy to get it back on the table. If you are looking for a gaming experience that is different than the more conventional options, yet doesn’t sit too far out there, then Swordcrafters should be a great option for you. It also can play up to five which makes it nice for get togethers. It is not heavy enough to intimidate and can be enjoyed by seasoned gamers.