12 Realms is a family-friendly cooperative miniatures game that plays in around 90 minutes. Set in a fantasy world wherein you have to defeat the invading Dark Lords throughout the realms. There’s area movement, some light RPG elements and a bit of set collecting involved. You play as a character from folklore and legend, such as Snow White, Robin Hood or Siegfried, with a character board and corresponding mini. Each character has different stats and special powers that come in handy while battling the encroaching dark armies.
The board is set out, depending on total number of players (1-6), by laying the realm boards in the centre of play. You’ll also have to choose your difficulty level so you can setup accordingly. Each realm has different Dark Lords & enemies that can spawn on it as well as different artifacts and treasures. To defeat the Dark Lord when it spawns you first need to have collected all three artifact pieces from that realm (one person must hold them all) and only then do you have a change to defeat the Dark Lord.
There is still some reliance on the luck of the die and that can scupper you at any point throughout the game. Every time you draw from the event deck you’ll roll to see where something spawns – as each realm board is split into 6 zones – and this can lead to some areas being overrun with dark forces.
Depending on how many enemies are in a realm at the end of a round will affect the tracker that counts up to spawning the Dark Lord. So you have to decide between rushing to collect the artifact pieces or taking it slow to battle back the invading enemies. That tracker also counts down to an automatic game end; if it reaches a certain number, the realm is lost and you’ve been defeated.
We played a 3 person game and were defeated on the standard difficulty. Nevertheless we all enjoyed it a great deal as there was a lot more tactics and planning involved than we’d realised beforehand. It’s a Euro-style game so we did spend a while trying to decipher action symbols and took a couple of wrong turns along the way.
The art is fantastical and the enemies don’t look scary or hideous so it’s suitable for younger gamers too; we all liked the fact that even though the enemies spawn in the realm you aren’t attacked, you don’t lose health, there’s no gruesome blood stain chits to drop on your character to denote the nearing of brutal demise. Equally when you defeat and enemy, there’s nothing violent about it, you have a skill, if the baddie is weak to that, they’re removed.
12 Realms has actually been out for a while, originally published in 2010 it also has a number of expansions already. We received the Wild West-themed expansion, ‘Ghost Town’, which adds some extra layers of tactics and difficulty as you have to rescue the ghost in that realm before any other realm can be victorious against the Dark Lords.
At first play, it was a bit of a brain-bender but after playing for a little while it starts to flow easily. It has some great strategy elements and lovely artwork. The miniatures are good quality and detailed and all the cardboard components are also top notch. Overall it’s a lovely addition to the library offering enough thinking for the adults and delightful art for the kids.
A special ‘Thank You’ to Helena at MAGE Company for sending us a copy to review.
A lighthearted cooperative game for 1-6 players replete with character miniatures and a whole host of tokens. Great quality components, charming art and engaging gameplay. Even if you don't defeat the invading darkness you'll have plenty of fun trying!