SNAP Review – Pocket Paragons
[Elliot] I’m going to get you this time!
[Anitra] Not if I get you first!
[Elliot] This is a SNAP review for Pocket Paragons, a two player dueling card game by Brian McKay.
[Anitra] It’s published by Solis Game Studio. You can play a full game in under 15 minutes, and the box says it’s for ages 13 and up. We think it can go a little bit younger, though, huh Elliot?
We’ll be talking about this Origins box, which has eight original characters. [Editor’s note: Actually, ten characters.]
[Elliot] Speaking of characters, let’s talk about the art in this game.
[Anitra] There are actually three artists on this particular set. Between them, they’ve brought ten unique characters to life, from Mata the Paladin, to Rosher the Illusionist. And although the art styles aren’t exactly the same across all the characters, the icons and graphic design are very consistent, making it easy to move from deck to deck.
[Elliot] So how do we play, Mom?
[Anitra] Both players choose a character and take their deck. Set aside the character card and the “Ultimate” card; the other six cards make up your hand. Both players start at ten health and zero energy.
Both players select a card to play, and then they both reveal simultaneously. First, check to see if either card counters the other.
Agility counters Intelligence, Intelligence counters Strength, and Strength counters Agility.
If a card is countered, it is returned to its owner’s hand (well, usually). Then you check for damage – it’s a large white number here on the center of the card. Your opponent loses this much health, unless they played Defend or a “block damage” ability.
Once damage and any after-combat effects are resolved, both players set their current card aside – it’s “exhausted” and can’t be played again until you use an ability to ready it. You both choose a new card to play for the next round.
You can ready all your exhausted cards by playing Rest. But this can be a risky move! If your opponent plays their red Weapon card when you play Rest – they immediately execute you and win the game.
But Rest-ing also grants energy. When you have enough energy, you can use your Ultimate card. Depending on your character, this may be a card you can add to your hand and play on a future round, or it may be a passive ability that stays in play for the rest of the game.
As soon as someone’s health reaches zero – or if they are executed – the game ends.
It probably took almost as long to explain this as it does to actually play a game!
This Origins box introduces a longer “Conquest” format, where each players choose three Paragons and must win a match with each one. It also introduces a Solo mode, for those times you don’t have an opponent to play with.
[Anitra] So, let’s talk about our expectations with this game.
[Elliot] We generally enjoy dueling games here at The Family Gamers. My favorite is probably Cookie Fu – Mom, what’s yours?
[Anitra] Probably Unmatched.
[Anitra] When I first saw Pocket Paragons, the name made me think that this would be a dueling card game that was just cards, so it fit in your pocket. Something kind of like Tiny Ninjas, or Gruff, or even like an Unmatched game without a board. These are all games we’ve enjoyed in the past, and you can find links to our reviews in the post.
My first play of the game was less than five minutes, but I was immediately hooked. You can get a lot of variety out of a tiny set of cards -it’s just seven per character!
[Elliot] When you first showed it to me, I thought this was going to be like a 20 minute game. But it’s like a five minute game.
[Anitra] And that’s one of our biggest surprises – just how quick it is to play Pocket Paragons – and how much you need to get into your opponent’s head.
[Elliot] Yeah, I have to try to guess when you’re going to Rest so I can Execute you.
[Anitra] Or maybe just to predict what I’m going to play so you can counter it or defend it. It almost feels like an extended – and more strategic – take on Rock-Paper-Scissors.
I was also pleasantly surprised at the solo mode. You lay out the abilities for your opponent Paragon and then you determine which they use each turn from an AI deck. And you flip each ability face-down as it’s used. It’s slightly more predictable than playing with a human opponent, but it still feels like the same game. I found it a really interesting way to explore all the different characters.
And there’s a huge variety of characters here! Elliot, which one’s your favorite?
[Elliot] Seris the Pyromancer. Mostly because her card says “Burn your enemy with massive damage and punish their healing.”
[Anitra] I like that one too. They’re one of the easier characters, but there are also really interesting challenges like Jayelle the Bard, who does no damage at all, but has a lot of ways to heal herself and exhaust her opponent’s cards so that she can perform an execute. Or Kairos the Timebender, who rarely has to rest, but instead can keep putting cards back into his hand with careful planning.
[Elliot] Mom, do we recommend Pocket Paragons?
[Anitra] I think this is great if you’re looking for a quick dueling game. This box here is not tiny, but it does fit in my purse – and if I really want to transport the game, I can just grab a couple of decks and put them in a baggie in my pocket.
The games are intense but really short, and you can always try a new character to keep the game from feeling stale.
But there is very little luck here. You really need to try to predict your opponent’s moves, so if you don’t like that, then I wouldn’t recommend this game. Try something like Tiny Ninjas instead.
If Pocket Paragons sounds interesting to you, check out all the sets available at PocketParagons.com. Last time I checked, they had a free to character set you could print at home to try it out, too.
Elliot, what are we going to rate Pocket Paragons?
[Elliot] 4½ abilities out of 5.
And that’s Pocket Paragons, in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Pocket Paragons: Origins and a playmat from Solis Game Studio for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 13+ (we say 8+)
Number of Players: 1-2
Playtime: 3-15 minutes