Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Marcin Welnicki


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

The card game Slavika from the Polish publisher REBEL.PL leads us into the mythical land of Slavic. We take the role of leaders of the ruling families of Slavic and are asked to protect the land and all the inhabitants for a while, until the daughter of the dead king had enough time to bind herself to the powerful amulet of Slavika. The family who does this best may send a son to marry the new ruler of the land. This sounds quite promising, and so all players soon are equipped with a hand of six Hero and five Monster cards and march into the battle to fight all the scum of the land.

But stop! Before we can start, we still have to set up the four (or five, depending on the number of players) regions in which the fighting takes place. For this we lay out Region cards in the middle of the table and place a given number of Treasure cards underneath. Those treasures will be given to the family who has most helped clearing the region from monsters by sending the strongest support.


Slavika lets us play the good and the bad at the same time. In a turn we always have to perform three actions which we can use to send heroes to the one and monsters to the other side of a region. Each region can bear up to a specific amount of monsters and heroes, and if this amount is reached a fight is triggered. With the first two actions we are asked as guardians of the queen and can send heroes to defend the kingdom. With the third however we must send a monster to another region. All cards must be put to different regions, so it is not possible for a player to provide the same region with heroes and (weak) monsters in the same round.

Whenever a region is filled up to its monster limit, it comes to a battle, regardless of the fact whether the limit for heroes also has been reached. To determine the result of the battle the strength of all monsters is added up and compared to the strength of all heroes. Sounds undemanding to you? Well, it surely would be, if there wasn't the special abilities of most Hero and Monster cards. In fact, those special abilities are the cherry on top which turns Slavika from a simple game of calculating summations into a much more sophisticated game that places tactics at the core of the game.

A wizard for example has a "normal" strength of 2. This is not very much compared to the mighty knights with strengths of 5 or 6. However, the assessment changes rapidly if you consider the special ability of a wizard. For every knight in the same region, no matter if this knight is from the same family or not, the wizard gains 2 extra points for his strength. The monster card "Wily" on the other side cancels all special abilities of the heroes in a region. This means that no knight contributes to the strength of a wizard any more. So even with a mighty force of heroes in one region you can never be sure to win a fight and to be the strongest family, at least not before the last card is played.

If the heroes are successful, the Glory and the Treasure cards are divided between the heroes, depending on their relative strength. Most glory is given to the player owning the strongest hero force, but again this can be altered by the special abilities of heroes and monsters. If it comes to a draw, the order of the hero cards is important. The player with a hero nearest to the region card wins the draw. So it is not only important to have strong heroes in a region but also to play them at the right moment. In addition, some hero and monster abilities can eliminate or exchange hero cards from a region, and this may also result in a change of glory and treasure distribution. However, if the monsters win, the region is cleared from all heroes and monster cards and new treasure cards are put under the region card additionally to the cards that already did lie under it. So the region becomes more and more profitable.

Every family has the same set of hero cards. Once a hero is placed in a region it cannot be used any more (let us ignore special abilities for the moment) until the region is cleared. Only then the heroes are given back to their owners. So, once again a lot of the game is about choosing the right hero at the right moment. Because of the numerous special abilities this can be a little bit confusing for new players who do not know the game. But after the first scoring the mechanism should be understood, and it seems to be a good idea to start a new, full game after demoing newcomers the mechanism up to the first scoring.

Slavika uses some mechanisms that are known from other games, and especially the placement of cards in regions reminds a bit of older KOSMOS-titles like Caesar & Cleopatra or Avalon, but due to the much stronger influence of special abilities these similarities remain rather superficial. The special abilities provide the game with a lot of tactic possibilities, and combined with the nice design of the playing components Slavika is a serious card game with special appeal to friends of fantasy games. The game can be played in about 30 minutes, but an inexperienced player will need much longer, because he must first remember and understand all of the special abilities. In fact, in this setting the game may take up to 90 minutes, and this is definitely too long for such a small game. That's why Slavika gets all the better when players are more familiar with the game.

With Drako REBEL.PL has published one of my favourite "smaller" games of 2011. Now, with Slavika they have proven again that they know not only to create big games like K2 or City Tycoon, but they can do small games, too. Although these games naturally do not arouse that much attention at a convention, they are truly worth playing and keeping, especially if you are looking for small games due to limited free shelf space for all the new games every year....

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Copyright © 2013 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany