Published on May 13th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
Join The Hunt
Our Review of BANE
Our very first preview of BANE was over a year ago when we met Gamesicle Games’ owner and game designer Matt Rodgers. We’ve watched BANE grow from an early stage prototype into a full-fledged product ready for Kickstarter. Gamesicle has brought BANE to multiple conventions and have focused their efforts to getting as many fans and reviewers interested and playing their game. BANE is a great card game that while easy to learn features a depth of strategy.
In addition to this review, we also previewed a bit of the backstory, gameplay and premium components available on BANE’s Kickstarter campaign in YouTube video:
BANE is a fast-paced card game for 2-5 players. Players face off in a series of engagements where each player plays a card from their hand in the center of the table. Once every player has placed a card, the winner of this engagement resolves and the loser of the engagement loses one of their four precious trophies. As trophies help determine the winner of the entire game of BANE, losing them puts you at a big disadvantage but only momentarily.
All cards dedicated to the engagement are discarded and play continues until either one player runs out of cards in their hand or a player loses all of their trophies. This concludes a ‘hunt’ and the player with the most remaining trophies moves up their Mastery of the Hunt track twice, while everyone else only moves up one. Players then reshuffle the deck and deal it out again to start another hunt made up of a series of engagements. A full game of BANE can last around three hunts, but there BANE offers flexibility and personalization too. Shorter games, alternate plays, powers and objectives are all additional ways to play BANE.
The strategy comes from playing off opponents and working to turn each encounter in your favor. It is the first player to reach ‘Mastery’ on their Mastery of the Hunt tracker with the most remaining trophies in the final hunt.
Shifting Power Struggles
I’ve been told that BANE’s gameplay is easier to understand when its rules are compared to a trick-taking game like Hearts or Spades, unfortunately, I haven’t played those classic games (my Oma taught me poker instead). There is no one card or suit that reigns supreme in BANE. Each card of each faction has the ability to win an engagement. All that matters is what your opponents play in turn.
The three factions are Humans, Vampires and Werewolves. Although they are a trifecta that is often stuck together with a lot of stereotypes, BANE is aiming for a different narrative. I’m not an expert on the lore, but more of it will be revealed in the Kickstater and hopefully the comic book stretch goal.
The lore isn’t what interests me about BANE. The art feels like the illustrations in World of Darkness and they are all thematically sound, feature a lot of women that aren’t just eye candy and help to create the survival mood of BANE.
I like that every card has different personality and each person is a formidable opponent. The winner of engagements is determined first by the speed of the card. Each faction has two cards numbered 1-8. 1 is the fastest and 8 is the slowest. Then, the order of prey is determined: the fastest cards find the slowest prey. The faction hierarchy determines who actually preys on whom: Vampires kill Humans; Humans kill Werewolves and Werewolves kill Vampires in a sort of rock, paper, scissor fashion.
Master of the Hunt
Learning to play card games is as much about the social aspect as the actual written rules. Players are all fighting for the same goal and each player will have to choose what fights to pick. BANE offers even more strategy in the forms of hidden cards, power cards and the BANE token. The BANE token allows a player to banish a player’s submitted card, forcing them to play a new one. It is a risky action as a player can only BANE a card once per hunt.
In addition there are alternate ways to play BANE. For example, in a 3 player game, each person represents one of the three factions. Players are then trying to ensure that their represented faction is the most prominent predator in the game.
BANE is a very versatile game perfect for all ages and ranges of tabletop or card game experience. After a couple playthroughs new gamers can easily catch on to the basic strategy. I really enjoy the shifting tensions between players. If the basic gameplay isn’t enough, BANE also offers different variations of additional gameplay options, premium unlockable stretch goals and comic and an expansion in the works.
Become part of the hunt and get your copy of BANE by supporting their Kickstarter campaign. Follow the progress under the Twitter #JoinTheHunt tag.