Vampire The Masquerade: Rivals Review and Discussion
By: Justin Hopkins
So, this is a new one for me. We have covered movies, shows, Video Games, Wresting, Audio Books and even a comic, but never a Bored Game. An ever growing hobby of mine during the Pandemic, thanks largely time spent watching to lovely folks over on No Rolls Barred at YouTube ( Who are fantastic and you should check them out if you are into bored games.) It was only a matter of time before it merged with my other budding love of the World Of Darkness, which has been taking over since Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines. Have picked up the V5 Core book for some tabletop madness. Play test The Bloodhunt Closed Alpha, and got Vendetta, which I will play one day when I get more friends and now we get to the newest additions, Renegade Game Studios, Rivals By Matt Hyra. I didn’t know much about it, besides the fact it’s World Of Darkness and Card Game and that it can be played with 2 so I was sold. As me and my buddy started to play, was just amazed by how much fun I was having and decided wanted to talk about the game in the blog. So, lets dive in and see what the World Of Darkness conjured up in the Game of Rivals.
While this game can be a bit difficult to understand and run with, but at the heart of it; It’s all about taking charge of a Coterie (Group), and take charge of San Francisco. The game comes with 4 premade decks to choose from, Brujah, Toreadors, Ventrue, and the Malkavians. Each having their own set of skills to collect Agenda Points. Brujah being the fighters, Toreadors being the ones to collect retainers (Humans) Ventrue building up ranks and Influence Points, and the Malkvains going for cerebral with their conspiracies. Along with an expansion deck so once you have a few games in, can start making coteries of your own, with differing vampires and agenda and such. Which ever you choose, you set up your side and in the middle goes the general store and the City Deck. City deck filled with events that can hinder or reward you, Second Inquisitors out to ruin your night and humans for the feasting. Along with the Prestigious, Prince Of The City Card. Can win in multiple ways, by collecting thirteen Agenda Points, knocking out your rival, or you lose if you run out of prestige.
There is so much going on with this game that I don’t know where to start to praise it. There is simply so many ways to play that it feels fresh every time you. From building up influence and power with the Ventures. So, you can sway conflict votes and build up the Agenda Points that way. Racking up Retainers with the Toreardors. It’s always satisfying to win fights with the Brujah. That’s before I even mix up the decks and seeing how well things work and mesh together.
The balance of the game is handled pretty well. The game feels competitive throughout and on more than one occasion the games I played came down to the wire. Losing one game because I didn’t have a vampire to put a title on, and for me that’s what makes this game so exciting. Every turn really matters and makes you reflect. Think about what went wrong and get better because of it.
I loved the art style on the cards. From really bringing out and highlighting what makes the clans them, but making all the other cards pop as well. From the influence conflicts cards to the various weapons. A lot of work and love went into the art work and it shows.
This is a soft negative, but it comes to the Malkavians, most specifically their Conspiracies. This is a soft negative because I could just be overlooking some tactic to use with this side of the conspiracy and in a month, change my tune entirely, but for the most part it’s almost detrimental to play as them. The way it works is you got conspiracy cards you play facedown, and you can put prestige points on them. Show them to another players if you wish to pay on it, and when it has reached the pay limit you can enact it. Which can net you some rewards and come back to hurt who doesn’t, but none of this works in a two player game. You’ll just bleed prestige points and even in larger groups, the other clans just have to many ways to build a lead on you or just outright attack you and with Malkavians having some low Blood points. Can have some trouble weathering the storm.
With all that said though, this game is still worth the purchase. The World Of Darkness did a wonderful job at putting Rivals together. There is so much replay value and with the fact they give you an expansion pack allows you to start making your own decks. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is definitely worth the purchase.
As always, I hope you enjoyed and….
Thank You For Reading!