Reiner Knizia's The Confrontation
- Platform: PC
- Players: 1-2
- Achievements: Yes
- Steam Trading Cards: No
- Controller Support : No
- Retail Price: $14.99
High Level Premise: Boardgame designing legend Reiner Knizia's take on Stratego with special powers.
Graphics/Style: The graphics look dated. This is especially unfortunate for a game that came out less than a year ago.
Music/Soundtrack: Appropriately generic Medieval themed music
Story: For the Light Side, you must get the Prince to the Shadow's Stronghold. For the Shadow team, you must either kill the Prince, or get 3 characters into the Light Capital.
Replay-ability: Above average. There's a good mix of luck and strategy. I would love to see more characters (which seems to be in the works).
Time Commitment: 10-15 minutes per game.
Value: As the board game is now 14 years old with almost no likelihood of getting reprinted, this may be the most economical way to check out this Knizia classic.
Favorite Element: $15 is about half what a new copy of the board game costs...if I could even find a copy.
I'll start with the most obvious question: Reiner Knizia is a German mathematician and board game designer. He has published over 600 games since 1990. Many of his games are known to lean heavily on mechanics while the game's theme is almost interchangeable. I probably have close to 40 of his games in my personal game collection. I'm a fan.
Ironically, I feel like The Confrontation board game was the rare Knizia that meshed well with its original theme, but it had to be re-themed for the digital version. That's because the Confrontation actually began its life as Lord of the Rings Confrontation; one of several LotR games Knizia designed roughly around the release of the first movie. Imagine the generic Prince is Frodo, and the Shadow Stronghold is actually Mount Doom, and you get why he needs to get there.
The Confrontation is truthfully a pared down take on Stratego (another popular Knizia trope, he loves to remix classic games into something more his style). Both sides have 9 characters, all with various power levels, and special abilities. Each player also has a hand of 9 cards. 6 of the cards are additional power cards, the other three are special action cards. On a turn, a player gets to move one character. If that character ends up in a space with an enemy character, they battle. Special powers trigger first, players then must play one card. After dealing with those abilities, the winning character retains the space, and the losing character dies. This repeats until one of the winning conditions is met. A typical game only takes 10-15 minutes. It's quick, it's brutal, and it's fun.
The presentation of the game here is a bit of a mixed bag. The drawings during the opening story are nice, for the most part. The board itself is simple, but it does the job well enough. I find the character drawings to be okay- not great. There are a couple animations here and there, but it's mostly a static affair. I'm not a fan of the battle screen art at all. Most of the backgrounds feel like they were ripped from old PC games. They are static screens, why not use the same lush style as the opening? I can't complain about controls past the fact that when you have a bunch of large characters near each other, it can be easy to select the wrong character. The game does a good job of making sure you know your options before you do anything. The light side victory screen though...I understand why they hid faces during the opening.
You can play real-time multiplayer with chat if that's your thing (and if anyone's online playing). The game has several levels of AI, and all of them are tough to beat. Aggression is not always your friend in this game. There's a lot to be said for holding back, and there's a surprising level of bluffing available. If you're looking for a fun, short, tactical game. Reiner Knizia's The Confrontation is a pretty good one. According to the developers, they are working on variant characters. That will help give this game a lot more depth.