It's time once again for more board game coverage for Co-Op Casual Friday. Just as co-op has become an extremely popular feature in video games, it is for board games as well. Today, we take a look at Defenders of the Realm, an excellent co-op game that blends concepts from Pandemic with fantasy characters who would be very much at home in any D&D campaign.
Pandemic was the first board game ever featured here at Co-Optimus, and it is one of the best out there, as its rating at boardgamegeek.com can attest. The virus spreading mechanic is perhaps the most innovative feature of Pandemic, with a similar system used for its "little brother", Forbidden Island. This mechanic, where outbreaks flow from one city to the next, also nicely simulates the spread of an advancing army, and it is on this basis that Defenders of the Realm is built.
Four enemy generals are working together to invade Monarch City, and the defense of the land is in the hands of a small group of mighty adventurers. The generals start on the outskirts of the kingdom, but as the turns go by, they move ever closer to the capital. Additionally, they send minions to harass the different locations on the map. The players must coordinate their attacks, balancing minion battles with confronting the generals. As each general falls, the pace of the game speeds up dramatically, and only a well balanced, thoughtful party of heroes will be able to defend the realm successfully.
I am a big fan of different powers and abilities for players in board games, and Defenders of the Realm is a great example of this feature. Eight heroes are included in the game, ranging from the arcane Wizard and Sorceress to the martial Paladin and Dwarf. Each hero can break the rules in some way. The Wizard can teleport across the board, the Ranger can attack adjacent locations, and the Rogue can hide from enemies in the same location without taking damage. The powers give the heroes a nice classic fantasy feel, and add much replayability to the game.