Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances
Disney Sorcerer’s Arena burst onto the scene in 2020, a real-time, turn-based, online multiplayer fighting game. This smash hit allows people across the globe to be their favorite Disney and Pixar characters (both heroes and villains) and battle it out with their friends. Now, The Op has put that game on the tabletop! Channel your inner Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, or lumber into the arena as the friendly but ferocious Sulley, in Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances.
How to Play Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances
You are a Summoner, creating an alliance of Disney and Pixar characters to fight in the arena for power and influence.
There are four complexity levels (introduced as “chapters” in the rulebook), but we’ll focus on the middle levels in this overview.
Draft a team with three of your favorite characters and shuffle their card decks together. You and your opponent will put their turn order tiles in a line, based on initiative value, but alternating team colors.
A Summoner may only play cards and actions for the active character’s turn, not for anyone else on their team.
Every turn starts with some maintenance, which we’ll explain later (removing status counters and checking for victory points). Draw a card and add it to your hand. Then it’s time for the main phase.
Main Phase – Movement and Action
A character’s main phase consists of a movement and an action, in either order.
For movement, you may play a movement card, or use the standard movement (usually 2 spaces).
In the action phase, you may use an action card, or use the standard attack against an adjacent rival character (usually 2 damage).
Boost the standard movement or standard attack by discarding a card of the same type (but not necessarily belonging to the active character).
Knock a character out of the game by reducing their health to zero. Their Summoner immediately removes their standee from the board and removes all status effects from their turn order tile. The player who knocked them out takes victory points according to that character’s VP value (as shown on the turn order tile and character card).
That character returns to the Arena on their next turn, on the “back row” of either end of the board.
End of Turn
At the end of a character’s turn, check to see if their Summoner needs to discard cards down to the hand limit. Then check if either Summoner has accumulated enough victory points to end the game (usually 20).
If game end has been triggered, finish the round so that every character has the same number of turns.
Some cards create a status effect on one or more characters; some positive, some negative. Epic Alliances depicts these with chevron status tiles and counters.
At the beginning of a character’s turn, their Summoner removes one status counter from each tile associated with that character. Blue status tiles are constant, remaining in effect until the last counter is gone. Yellow status tiles indicate Triggered effects that happen every time a counter is removed.
Victory Point Spaces
Also at the beginning of a character’s turn, their Summoner takes a victory point token if the character stands on one of the three VP spaces on the board (marked with a crown). A single point isn’t much, but it can be enough to give a Summoner the edge over their rival.
But wait, there’s even more! The more complex versions of the game, introduced in chapters 3 and 4, give each character at least one special ability. Every character’s ability is unique and can be used during a “Skill Phase” before or after Movement and Action.
Expansion: Turning the Tide
The first expansion for Epic Alliances adds three new characters to the fray. Moana, Stitch, and Davy Jones are all Oceanic characters (as is Ariel from the base set). Turning the Tide adds a new movement option for these Oceanic characters.
Moana can place ocean tiles on the board. If an Oceanic character moves through an ocean tile, that space doesn’t count against their movement. However, they must remove that tile after they move through it. This allows Oceanic characters to move completely across the board if the conditions are right.
Stitch adds a new status effect to the game: No Punchbacks, which prevents characters from attacking him back.
Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances is a well-crafted arena battle game. We have played a lot of Prisma Arena, Krosmaster Arena, and Unmatched over the past few years. Epic Alliances feels familiar, without being an exact copy of any of these games.
The developers of Epic Alliances drew on the wealth of Disney history for characters that are well-themed and unique. Even characters that should be similar types have features that feel just right for their personality.
For example, Gaston and Sulley are both the big, hard-hitting type commonly known as a “tank”. But Sulley’s cards and abilities are focused on helping his friends, while Gaston’s are – unsurprisingly – all about Gaston.
The way status tiles and counters work are fantastic as well. Their execution is simple and repeatable: all statuses are applied and fade in the same way. Having such a consistent process for managing statuses makes it very easy to remember the steps to manage them.
Health tracking is easy too – at the beginning of the game, you take plastic rings in your team’s color. Slide one onto each character standee’s base, and position the arrow to their max health. When they take damage, pop the ring up, move the arrow to the new value, and pop back on. You’ll never be wondering how much health a character has left.
Like many arena fighting games, characters never really die. When they run out of health, they are simply bounced out of the arena. While it’s frustrating to get a character knocked out just before you had an awesome move planned, you’ll recover quickly and get back into the fight.
Select Your Complexity
I love the way the rulebook introduces mechanics slowly, in “chapter” form. Chapter 1 gives an intro to the system, with pre-made teams (Mickey & Aladdin vs. Ariel & Gaston) and limited status effects. This is a short, simple game that takes about 20 minutes.
Chapter 2 introduces character drafting, initiative, the rest of the status effects, and a slightly longer race for victory points.
Then Chapter 3 adds even more variation between characters through the character ability cards. Now each character brings their own hand size to the team, along with variety in “standard” move and “standard” attack. Each one also has at least one skill they can use during a new Skills phase.
Still want more? Chapter 4 introduces the final concept of the game: gears and upgrading. Every character now has an upgrade cost to get even more powerful abilities. Pay the cost by banishing cards from your discard pile with the right combination of gears.
If all this sounds like too much, there’s no reason that you can’t stick with a less complex chapter. Every way to play this game is fun, and every way maintains the distinctiveness of each character. You’re not playing a “lesser” version, even if you play a modified chapter 1 style, with just two fighters per team and 12 victory points to win.
Fun for the Family
Anyone who enjoys Disney animation of the past 30 years will find characters to enjoy in this game. The rulebook says Epic Alliances is best for ages 13 and up, but we think the simpler version moves fast enough to keep even 8-year-olds interested.
Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances might be a mouthful, but the mechanics aren’t. This fantastic game features familiar characters and the rules flex with your family as they grow. The gorgeous acrylic standees look great on the table, and the health dials, while a little fiddly, do their job well.
My biggest complaint with the game is the lousy insert. I know this is a dumb complaint, but this game is tailor-made for expansions (two are already available) and the insert doesn’t allow for storing any. We’ve already dumped ours, and we recommend you do the same.
Disclosure: Andrew helped playtest Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances during its development.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances and the expansion, Turning the Tide, from The Op for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Disney Sorcerer's Arena: Epic Alliances
Age Range: 13+ (we say 8+)
Number of Players: 2 or 4
Playtime: 35+ minutes