5 things that make Spellstorm really cool

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You might be wondering, “hey wait a second… why should I care about Spellstorm?” Here’s five reasons.

Reason #1: Beautiful, charming artwork

The art in this game is by Christina Zhong, and it is full of personality and color. Here’s a handful of paintings that are on some of the cards.

Bunny Wizard soars through the air!



Derby Pocket scrambles to bring coffees to everyone on the team.




A mighty Storm Dragon roars at the peak of the rocky crag of the Spellstorm.



Omar Evans leaps high into the air, tossing several shuriken at his opponent.

Reason #2: Drama of the Blast Battle

In Spellstorm, battles take place over four rounds. At the start of those four rounds, players each have 4 cards in hand. However, players are playing cards, discarding cards, drawing cards, and at the end of the 4th round, whoever has more cards in hand wins 2 Storm Shards (you need 8 to win). But it’s more complicated than that, because not all cards even count toward your hand total (known as your Blast Score). About 1/3 of the cards in the game are white-bordered “discard effect” cards, which have other effects when you discard them at the end of the round (like they give you resources, or maybe they hurt you in some way). The drama comes from the fact that the other player can’t tell how many of your cards in hand are scorable. So I might have 5 cards in my hand, all scorable, and I see that you have 7 cards in your hand and I feel like shoot, I’m probably going to lose. But then you reveal and 3 of your 7 cards were discard effect cards, meaning that I win the round in a dramatic upset! It’s really fun to watch this unfold throughout a battle, and it’s also neat in a game whenever there’s an interesting way to do “number of cards as a resource” like this.


Reason #3: Discard Effects

I haven’t really played a game where deckbuilding really worked this way. You’re constantly adding cards to your hand, removing them from your deck, giving them to other players, placing them as ONGOING cards, etc. And then on top of that, cards have something called a discard effect. It’s a little bit like the effect that gold cards have in Dominion – you don’t need an action to play them, you just get 1 gold for having them in your hand. In this game, there’s a whole range of different kinds of discard effects that you can have. Some of them give you Power Tokens, or Mana. Some of them actually deal damage to you, or reduce your Blast Score.

What’s super cool about the discard effects is that they really make your deck into an “engine” that’s kind of operating on its own, without you even having to play any of the cards – “passive income” for the Earth style player, or passive damage for someone who has loaded up their opponent’s deck with Curses!


Reason #4: Very asymmetrical characters

Derby Pocket and Eve Williams are probably the most “normal” characters in the game, and they’re the ones that you start with. But even they have special powers that no one else has – Ongoing Effect cards that give them passive bonuses as long as they’re allowed to stick around.

Oren Bark has a whole set of 3 extra decks of cards, which he mixes into a big potion randomly and then for his Ultimate, he chuggs the whole potion at once, triggering every card in the stack, with crazy effects.

Bunny Wizard has just 6 health, but can get an intense healing engine going, and also is known to help his opponents! What a weirdo!

Omar Evans is a ninja who also has a very small amount of health, but uses a lot of defensive and blocking moves to hopefully avoid taking too much damage while he sets traps for the opponent.

Croh Vosh on the other hand has 20 health, and slowly accrues special Death Tokens that make him more and more powerful the longer the game goes on.

May Danaris can do weird stuff like play cards out of the opponent’s hand and even the void!

And Abragail has a whole “tech tree” that she can upgrade throughout the game, setting herself up for different challenges.

Overall there’s just a lot of different flavors and approaches in these characters and I think everyone will find a character that resonates with them.


Reason #5: There’s no other tabletop game like it

I sort of wince a little bit every time I or anyone else refers to this game as a “deckbuilder”. Because that suggests a lot of things which just aren’t true about this game. This game achieves so many of my design goals at once, and it took such a long time to get it to where it is. It feels like a fight, in a way that Dominion really does not, partially due to the simultaneous actions, but also partially due to the theme. It feels kind of like a videogame, again partially due to the theme but also the way that “teching up” and characters’ “ultimates” work, as well as the fighting-game style asymmetric characters.

Spellstorm is also the ultimate expression of a game design theory thing that I’ve been working on for years: The Triangle. Spellstorm is not a “race”, Spellstorm is a dance. You lean fire, I lean water. So you lean Earth. So I lean fire. And on it goes, until a player sees an opportunity to win. Or is it an opportunity to win? Or is it a trap? Do you switch gears now, or are you already too invested in the direction you’ve already leaned in?

In a general overall way, I think Spellstorm is unique in a way that a game can only be as a result of a long, iterative process. So many brilliant game designers have touched this game over the years of its development. I have to mention Peter Siecienski, Brett Lowey, Ryan Bowles, Eli Priest, Jesse Fuchs, Geoff Englestein, Adam Vogel, all the people at Other Stuff Games and many more for their help in shaping this design over this time. Each of these people have made a significant mark on the game and it wouldn’t be half of what it is now without their generous contributions and brilliant ideas.

Thanks to all of them, and to all of you for reading.


Spellstorm is currently on Kickstarter! Please spread the word.