Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Publisher: Druid City Games, Skybound Games
Designer: James Hudson
Player Count: 2-5
Age Appropriateness: 14+
Playtime: 30-45 Minutes
Let me start by saying that I went into this review with a biased mentality. The first person and company I encountered when I got serious about board gaming was James Hudson and Druid City Games. I have purchased every game that the company has Kickstarted and I love what they do. I have also had nothing but great interactions with James who is a fellow Alabamian...Roll Tide! With that being said, I went into this with every intention to be overly critical in order to offset my bias. Alas, the list of critiques has ended up quite short. Guardian's Call is a fantastic bluffing game that takes their prior release, Barnyard Roundup, to another level. Now, to be clear, I love bluffing games. I love the laughter and pain they provide...and man do they provide pain! I love the deception and strategy that comes into play! I love the variety of choices that can be made! But, I realize many people do not like bluffing games. If that is you hang with me for just a few minutes and see if Guardian's Call can change your mind!
"There is danger in the West...Ferocious orcs are raiding and pillaging, and behind them comes the mighty dragon, Golianth. You are a Guardian, one of the five rival heroes sworn to defend the realm. The King has decreed that you must work together to send weapons and shields, search for ancient artifacts and call on the power of magical spells, all while bringing villagers to safety within the Castle. There are many Guardians, but there can only be one Guardian of the Realm, the leader who will lead their combined strength to victory. Bring the greatest resources to the Council and save the most villagers and you will be named the Guardian of the Realm."
"Guardian’s Call is a bluffng and deduction game for 2-5 players. Each player takes the role of a renowned Guardian, a leader of one of the mighty clans. Each turn you will gather provisions from the center pool and then make an offer of aid to another player. That player will decide if they think your offer is sincere or if they think you are trying to deceive them. If they are correct in guessing, they gain all of the provisions that were offered. If they were incorrect, you gain the provisions. Each type of provision grants points in a different manner, and the more you collect, the greater their points value."
What We Think
Gameplay & Rules
The rules and rulebook for Guardian's Call are great! The rulebook had many sections that are essential for a solid rulebook: (1) What's in the Box, (2) Overview, (3) Set-up, (4) Gameplay, (5) Layout Images, (6) Detailed Card Explanations, (7) Scoring Guide, and a (8) Quick Reference Page. Each section was quick and to the point, but still equipped me to jump right in. To be honest I did mess up our first playthrough, but after checking the rulebook I found it was due to my poor reading and comprehension skills, not rulebook ambiguity. It also did a solid job of touching on lore. The lore without a doubt could have been more immersive, but considering the relatively mild Kickstarter funding I think Druid City provided more than enough in this regard. It's important for us to remember that when we look at a game we shouldn't expect the moon when we paid for a bouncy ball. Ultimately publishers can only do what the money allows them do, though Druid City Games did include miniatures in this game despite not unlocking them through stretch goals in the Kickstarter campaign. I personally don't penalize a game too much for what it is missing, but rather I grade it for what it has. Altogether the rulebook was long enough to cover the game thoroughly, but still short enough to keep it interesting!
The gameplay is also exceptional. James did a great job at maximizing the pros of bluffing games while minimizing the cons. He built this game in a way that frees up players to create their own strategies. Perhaps you want other people to see what cards you take in order to play mind games with them (my preferred method). You can do that! Maybe you want to take face down cards in order to hide your intentions (my wife's preferred method). You can do that! You want to go hard for your affinity bonuses? You can do that! You want to help people fall into the trap of over valuing these bonuses? Yep, you can go that route too. Bluffing games are often known for their tendency to be light on strategy and streamlined in style, but not this one. The variety of cards and paths to victory makes strategy abundant. They have also put in a mechanic that restricts players from making offers to the same player repeatedly. You must make an offer to every player before you can offer players cards for a second time. This negates one of the biggest flaws of bluffing games and ensures nobody at the table is penalized by action avoidance. As with all bluffing games there is a certain amount of "luck" involved, but if you are witty, strategic, and attentive this game is far less dependent on luck than the average bluffing game. You will still have those painful games where you can’t seem to get your stuff together, but that’s just the nature of bluffing! I will say that the game takes a major step up when you play with 3-5 players. 2-Player is not terrible by any means, especially if you have a strategic opponent, but I found that playing with at least three is preferred!
Components & Art
As always Druid City Games ensured that the art and components would be top notch. The components for Guardian's Call include linen cards (a lot of them), a Castle Keep Game Board, 5 Guardian Player Boards, 20 Offer Tokens, 5 Player Miniatures (really good quality), 70 Victory Point Tokens, and 40 Coin Tokens. The Kickstarter did have a Starting Player exclusive miniature as well, but it is not necessary for gameplay. There is a lot packed into the box, which is beautifully organized by another amazing Gametrayz insert, and I was only left wanting in two areas. I would have loved to see the Guardian Player Boards be thicker as they are pretty thin and flimsy. Having something other than cardboard chits for the VP tokens and Coin tokens would have also been great. However, considering the price point for this game it would be unrealistic to expect those things. The boards and chits certainly get the job done, I have just been ruined by deluxe game editions at this point! Overall the components are top notch and really seem like they will hold up for a very long time. The art is also excellent! I could not ask for any more in this area. The box art is gorgeous, the card art is great, the miniature design is on point, and the game tray is crafted beautifully. As with everything board game related people have different tastes in art, but I can say that at least for me the art of Guardian's Call is excellent!
Here at Green Akers Games we love games. It sometimes can be difficult to be a reviewer since almost every game has at least something to love about it! So what we like to do is simply let our readers/viewers know if we think this game is a game we’d choose to pay for, play, and recommend to others without hesitation. A 3 out of 3 is a perfect score while anything less means the game has missed the mark somewhere in our eyes! We chose to do this in addition to our star system above because a game should not be deemed “bad” just because better games exist! Please keep in mind, our perception of or feelings about any game should not trump your feelings about that game. We believe that if a game interests you then you should at least give it a shot! Utilize your local FLGS or local gaming group to test out games before you decide to go all in!
Guardian's Call gets a 3/3 from us as it is a game we will happily pay for given the price point and what you get for your money. We would have no problem putting this in the game bag regularly since it appeals to many player types as a relatively light game that allows for strategizing and fun! Lastly, we would recommend this game without hesitation. It is everything I could hope for from a bluffing game and even those who aren't typically into this theme can enjoy it due to the party feel. This does not mean YOU will love this game as not every game is for everyone. This is a fantasy-themed bluffing game. If you hate bluffing games or fantasy themes approach with caution. At its core it is still a bluffing game, but I would encourage you to at least try it out since it mitigates so many of the typical bluffing game cons and introduces so much to shake things up!
Below are links to the Skybound for other great items and a link to BGG to see more reviews and such for Guardian’s Call. We’d also love for you to join us in the comments section with your thoughts! Create a member profile and let us know what you think!