Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach Card Game Review (Zero Radius Games LLC)

6

Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach is an officially licensed Pillars of Eternity card game, with a simple premise: build as much power as you can. 1 to 4 players will collect resources, build improvements, and recruit heroes, all while taking on progressively dangerous dungeons. A victory point game, the game ends when the entirety of the city cards deck has been emptied. Scores are tallied and you find out who was the most powerful Lord of the Eastern Reach.

Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach Card Game

Players: 1 to 4

Game Time: 60 to 90 Minutes

Age: 13+

Genre: Building / Management

How Do You Play Pillars of Eternity?

The Pillars of Eternity card game has absolutely nothing to do with the computer game except for the setting. You might ask, "Well, isn't the setting all that there is?" But if you look at a game like Fallout, it's clearly based on the mechanics of the Fallout series as well as the general theme. Pillars of Eternity is about building a city, with combat and exploration a side thought. Rather than building a powerful character, you're assembling a set of generic heroes and building a strange number of farms.

Developing buildings such as farms may give you additional victory points, while other buildings like harbors give you special abilities as the active player. 

Every player selects a lord at the beginning of the game, which gives them some special abilities and advantages. The goal of the game is to build the most powerful city, where "power" is denoted by (naturally) victory points. Players are going to be building up their city and recruiting heroes, with the goal of going through dungeon decks in order to gain additional victory points.

At the beginning of a tun, the active player can choose to initiate combat. Afterwards, the active player will draw resources. The active player gets to select their resources first, but each player will select resources that they will  thenuse to complete actions in the game. All players are allowed to build and hire on each turn, with the resources drawn, which keeps the gameplay fast and engaging. The active player can then discard cards and all players are allowed to draw up. 

Buildings have a defensive rating, while heroes have both defensive ratings and attack ratings. Heroes will become relevant as you go through combats. There are three dungeon decks, with ascending difficulty order. At the end of each round, the last player will draw a random event -- this often has some type of negative impact on your growing townships.

How Does Pillars of Eternity Compare to the Video Game?

Pillars of Eternity is often lauded for its in-depth gameplay and writing, neither of which is really visible in the PIllars of Eternity card game. In fact, the Kickstarter itself noted that the game mechanics were primarily ripped from Groo: The Game, another card game with somewhat lackluster reviews. Groo: The Game was published in 1997 and based on the popular comic (yes, comic games are not a new thing), and, in fact, the mechanics really make more sense for that franchise.

At least they didn't forget the miniature space pig.

So the Pillars of Eternity is a skinned game, translating elements such as the miniature space pig into a game that's about altogether something else entirely. And it's certainly not a bad game. As you build your city strategically, there's a real feeling of power progression and balance. Deciding whether you want to forge ahead into a difficult dungeon or continue to hire new heroes requires some real risk management. Wait too long, and you won't be able to acquire enough victory points. Go in too fast, and you could lose the very people you've been struggling to hire.

The problem is that being a Pillars of Eternity game does not add anything to this game, and this game does not add anything to the Pillars of Eternity franchise. If you are a fan of high fantasy building games, Pillars of Eternity: Lords of Eastern Reach is a decently replayable, moderate length game. If you're just a fan of Pillars of Eternity, it may have limited appeal.

Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach Board Game Review
  • PRO: A solid city-building game for up to 4 players, with attractive art and enough content to be moderately replayable.
  • CON: The mechanics of the game have little to do with the Pillars of Eternity franchise, which may make it a disappointment to fans of the series.