For Tabletop Co-Op this month, we are taking another look at a game we have covered previously. Defenders of the Realm, originally released in late 2010, is one of the most successful cooperative board games available. A full sized expansion, based on new Dragon generals, added plenty of options and replayability to the base game experience. Today, we will consider the other, smaller expansions that have been released, each one bringing something new and exciting to Defenders of the Realm.
For those who are unfamiliar, Defenders of the Realm combines the “virus spreads” mechanic from Pandemic with dice based combat, similar to Heroquest or Talisman. Each player takes on the role of a unique hero, and travels over the Realm, defeating minions and preventing them from spreading too quickly. Four generals constantly advance on the capital, and require players to team up to defeat them. As the game progresses, the generals move more and more quickly. If you can stop all four before one gets to Monarch City, you win the game.
Defenders of the Realm is a highly replayable game even if you are using just the base set. There are plenty of heroes included, and each one plays quite differently from the others. With the addition of the Dragon expansion, you can swap out the traditional orc, undead, and demon generals for dragons. This makes the game much harder, and requires totally different strategies. You can play dozens of games with this set up, and no game ever plays out just the same.
The more recent expansions all add new options to Defenders of the Realm. The game was already a virtual toolbox, where players could fiddle with additional rules and settings to make the game a bit easier, or a little tougher, to their liking. Three Hero expansions, four Minion expansions, and the new Alternate Generals expansion provide a virtual buffet of choices for players who are eager to customize their play.