Review: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends

  • September 16, 2017
  • James Skemp
  • review

The following is a review of Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends, received as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Two Games in One

I have a coworker and friend who I’ll occasionally play games with over lunch, and for the rare couple nights. She’s someone who you could totally see fighting in the arenas millenia ago, in a previous life.

So it was her that I wanted to play Tash-Kalar with for the first time, given how thematic it is, which works out well since the game itself recommends that your first game be a two-player High Form game, with some of the more advanced cards left out.

Before this first game, however, it is recommended to watch some of a gameplay introductory video. I watched videos from both ‘rahdo’ and ‘Gaming Rules!’ and found the latter to be much better, even though some of the bits they went over (moving) I still had to look up in the rulebook. Watching both is definitely not required.

Speaking of which, the game comes with a 12-page Guidebook and a double-sided Full Rules sheet. The former covers all the rules, and the latter combines all of the rules using highlighting to differentiate between the various game play modes. These modes consist of a 2-player or 2-team High Form, and Deathmatch that plays 2 players or 2 teams (Deathmatch Duel), or 3 or 4 players (Deathmatch Melee).

Watching a video online will give you a good overview of the rules, so I’ll move first to the actual components and box. First, the box can be annoying until you pull everything out of it and fix the separator. This uses a single piece of thin cardboard to make two rectangular holding areas, and then a single piece of cardboard to split these in half. I personally just used the two bags that came with the game to hold the cards, and then a Glad sandwich bag for the tokens. Some snack bags would have probably been better, however, since a single bag for all four token colors leads to more setup time.

The arena board is nice and should stand up as well. So two should the four player boards, although since they all play double duty for other game modes, some may get more wear than others. Tokens are nice and thick, and tarot-sized card art looks fantastic.

While the box says 30 minutes, expect your first game to take an hour or more. In fact, I might wager that all High Form games will take longer since if the shuffle isn’t that good, it will be more likely that you’ll end the game due to running out of cards than hitting the point total (from completed tasks) to end it.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed Tash-Kalar. I really like that it includes both a more strategic variant of the game (High Form) and something a bit more chaotic (Deathmatch, not to say there isn’t strategy involved there too). Having two balanced schools is a great way to introduce players to the game, since they effectively stand on equal ground (reminding me of Onitama in a way), but then with the two other unique schools it allows for 3 player games to be a little unique. The game is already quite replayable, since there’s so many different combinations, but there’s also a few expansions released for the game which adds to this.

Since I can’t find anything wrong with the game, and really enjoy playing it, I give Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends a full five of five stars. Just expect games to be done at the 30 minutes mark.