Celebrate Beauty With This Tidal Blades Review, Y’all

Tidal Blades - Skybound Games - $200
tbladesbox

Game title: Tidal Blades Deluxe Edition

Game description: Welcome Young Heroes! Many brave contestants have signed up for the tournament but only a handful will be chosen to join the Tidal Blades, the elite guards of our island realm. To succeed in the Tournament and be chosen as a Tidal Blade, you must compete in Challenges held in the 3 Arenas, rise to the top of the Champion’s Board, and protect the realm from the ever increasing threat of the Monsters from the mysterious Fold.

Overall
4
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

I will be honest with you. This is a total of fanboy’s Tidal Blades Review. That being said, I also agree to be totally upfront with you about that game, as a good reviewer should. My excitement leading up to the game withstanding, I want this to be a review you can trust.

Pros

  • An incredibly in-depth lore
  • Wonderfully produced
  • Amazing artwork

Cons

  • Doesn’t work well with 2 and 5 players
  • Rules are a bit jumbled in places
  • Deluxe Edition was Kickstarter only

I will be honest with you. This is a total of fanboy’s Tidal Blades Review. That being said, I also agree to be totally upfront with you about that game, as a good reviewer should. My excitement leading up to the game withstanding, I want this to be a review you can trust.

After a massive Kickstarter success, Tidal Blades is now in the hands of backers. Druid City Games and Skybound Games are currently in the process of getting the game into retail outlets. The review below is of the deluxe version of the game.

Tidal Blades’ Lore

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Stunning art like this is what initially turned me onto Tidal Blades

The world of Tidal Blades is incredibly detailed, with its worldbuilding done by Mr. Cuddington. With a rich history that predates the game’s story, the world of Naviri feels alive through the artwork and supplemental lore provided during both the Kickstarter campaign and the deluxe edition’s hardcover Art and Lore book. Even before we knew about how the game would be played, we were introduced to a great battle, The Fold, and the modern competition held to determine which participant will become a Tidal Blade, Hero of the Reef.

Each of Tidal Blade’s five main characters is fully fleshed out with backstories, developed personalities, hopes, and dreams. The Reef, itself, is alive. A melting pot of different cultures, history, magic, and technology. In all of this, there is also the constant threat of what lies beyond The Fold. If nothing else, the sheer scope of the worldbuilding efforts in Tidal Blades should be applauded for their beauty and depth.

What is in Tidal Blades’ Box?

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The deluxe edition of Tidal Blades

Backers who ordered the deluxe version of Tidal Blades were presented with the above. A deluxe box and the Angler’s Cove expansions box. It’s a bit wonky because the deluxe bits for Angler’s Cove are in the deluxe box, while everything else for the expansion is in the Angler’s Cover box. Once everything is opened up, it all fits into the large, deluxe box.

So what exactly is inside? First, everything you need to play the retail edition of the game. This means all the boards, cards, and cardboard tokens you would use if you purchased the game’s retail edition. You also get the deluxe upgrades. This includes miniatures, plastic action discs, “squishy” fruits, plastic shells, a custom dice tray, and a set of GameTrayz to hold everything nicely in the box. There’s also the rulebook, Almanac, and the Art and Lore book.

Two nice little additions to the box are a guide that explains which components need to be replaced with the deluxe upgrades and how to pack the game properly. It’s almost like all the extra awesomeness packed into this giant box wasn’t enough. Skybound and Druid City Games just had to make sure there was a cherry on top.

How Does Tidal Blades Play?

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Tidal Blades looks stunning on the table

At its core, Tidal Blades is a worker placement game that incorporates set collection elements, variable player powers, hand management, and dice building. Players use their actions to travel to different islands, perform actions to bolster their die pool, collect resources to spend on good or defense, and build themselves up to complete challenges for points and better stats. They can also fight giant monsters for greater rewards.

While the player with the most points at the end of the game wins, there are several different paths to victory and plenty of moving parts as the game progresses. Tidal Blades presents you with a delicate balancing act where every choice you make has the chance to make or break you. It’s all about committing to a path and mitigating your luck as much as possible.

Do you compete in challenges before the judge to earn extra points? Maybe you try your hand and help take down a monster or better yourself to become the most experienced competitor. If you play with the Angler’s Cove expansion, you can even take advantage of some shadier activities to give yourself an edge, as long as you don’t attract too much-unwanted attention.

Tidal Blades plays over the course of four rounds, with each player getting more actions as the game progresses. This slows the game down significantly with five players but works amazingly well with three or four. Unfortunately, the need for a ghost player when playing with two players kills the enjoyment a bit. As far as solo play goes, it works pretty damn well.

My Overall Tidal Blades Review, Y’all

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Palm Plaza

So what’s the verdict of this Tidal Blades review? It’s a fantastic game that combines excellent play, beautiful artwork, and amazing lore. It suffers a bit with two or five players but excels solo and with three or four. The rules could have been a bit clearer, especially with how the advanced rules are placed awkwardly about midway through the included Almanac. Still, all things considered, that’s a minor gripe that can be overcome by reading them thoroughly a couple of times.

Tidal Blades was certainly worth the wait, and both Druid City Games and Skybound Games delivered a quality game with a rich world set up for future games in the series. While Skybound has already announced a Tidal Blades RPG using the Cypher System, there has also been word that we can expect Tidal Blades: Part II to be a dungeon crawler.

Count me in.

TIDAL BLADES, Y’ALL!

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