In the City – Origins

In the City – Origins

In the City: Origins
From: Sherwood Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

In the City: Origins is a new Card Drafting Game from Sherwood Games.

In March of 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting Duncan Davis at MACE West.  There he demonstrated a game called Into the City: Origins.  The following June, I ran into him again at Origins and he was gracious enough to demo his game for me.  I had a great time learning it and I bought it from him there.

From page # 1:
“The King died.  Assume the role of a prominent town leader vying to become the new king.”

The theme of the game is that you are a town or city leader vying for power to take the place of a dead king (as the quote says above).  The cards represent various influential and powerful people in town that you recruit to your faction to help you become king.  These influential people are found in the City Square. The City Square is set up with the various cards in the deck of 105 cards that are laid out a specific way.  Each player is given an Influence Track card, which keeps track of your influence as the name implies.  Influence is gained through drafting from the City Square (explained more below).  Each player chooses a leader card from 3 they are given randomly from a stack of 20.  The Leader has a special ability that affects game play in some way.

Into the City: Origins is a drafting game.  In a drafting game, each player takes turns picking cards from the selection available. In a very dynamic and fast paced way, In the City: Origins engages you into resource management, maximizing selection potential and hindering your opponents at key moments. Each card that you recruit (called creatures) has a Prestige Score, Influence Bonus and a Victory Point Value.

The City Square is created in setup but it is not static.  There are 7 columns of cards, and at the start of the game 6 of them have two face up cards topped by the draw stack.  The 7th stack is the Mercenary stack and only comes out when a certain tier of cards are revealed. The first column is the Tier 0 (zero) stack and are by far the easiest cards to recruit.  These are relatively mundane creatures, some with some simple abilities.  The middle 5 columns are made up of Tier 1 through Tier 3 cards.  First to come out are the Tier 1 cards, followed by the Tier 2 and so on.  You can only recruit from the bottom row of cards, which is one aspect at the core of the strategy in the game.

To recruit from the City Square, you must have an influence greater than or equal to the cards prestige.  Prestige ranges from Tier 0 cards with minimum zero to Tier 3 cards with maximum of 23. You can use your own abilities from your leader and abilities granted to you by cards in your faction to further gain influence, move cards around in the square, destroy or otherwise hinder cards, and a variety of other things to make it easier for you while making it harder for others to gain influence and grow their faction.

The demo I played at Origins 2013, which was admittedly somewhat contrived and shortened, really illustrated the speed of play and complex strategy in play. Going beyond the basic demo and reading through the rules, I really began to see the complexities and the replay potential of the game. For instance, with the leader-leader interactions, the leaders both feel different from one another and feel different when playing against particular leaders.  The variety of cards allows for great interaction between factions as well.  Also, not restricting the game to a 2 player game (which I can easily see) makes the game even more desirable.

Visually the game is very pleasing to the eye.  Using a variety of classic public domain images to represent the various creatures shows the resourcefulness and creativity of the designer.  When I met him he was very passionate about his game and I could see why.  If you have a chance to sit down with Duncan and see his game played, I highly recommend it.

In conclusion, card games have always sat on my lower tier of games I want to play, probably in most cases because of my aversion to collectible card games as well as deck building games.  However, in recent years, more and more card games have come out that have really drawn me in.  This is one of them.  It is a fun and fast game.  And it can be faster once you get more and more familiar with the cards.  It would take a while to get to that point, but each game would feel so different that it would be easy to get there.

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary

In the City: Origins
From: Sherwood Games
Type of Game: Card Drafting Game
Game Design by: Duncan Davis
Developed by: Duncan Davis
Cover Art by: Auguste de Forbin
Number of Pages: 12 page rulebook
Game Components Included: 20 Leader Cards, 105 Creature Cards, 5 Influence Tracks, 3 10-sided dice, 9 glass gem markers
Retail Price: $30.00 (US)
Player Ages: 9+
Play Time: 45 to 60 mins

Reviewed by: Ron McClung