Legend of Korra Pro Bending Arena
I got up and went to work today, putting my boot on my right foot was fucking painful though and I was still very hobbled. My car still had a bunch of snow on it as it hasn’t moved all weekend but I was able to clear that off enough to drive, it must have looked weird though being the only car on the road still with a bunch of snow on it.
I got that and the manager who was on the door must have seen me limping down the path as when I got in he gave me a very confused look as they all thought I was going to be off again today. I said that when I spoke to one of the others yesterday I had said that I would try and make it in and if I wasn’t able to I’d let them know, but they had me down as off anyway and because he could see how badly I was still struggling he said for me to head home. So thats what I did and I’ve been laid up again all day.
It’s weird, if I’m sat around not doing a lot by choice I can do it all day, the moment I’m doing it because I can’t do anything else I get really restless.
Anyway, I promised a bit more of the thought out post today didn’t I, so lets do a board game review.
The Legend of Korra: Pro Bending Arena was a kickstarter I pretty much blind backed last year. I love the theme, Avatar and Korra and that whole world is one of my favourite fictional stories ever, probably second only to Star Wars so when a miniatures board game based on the sport of ‘Pro Bending’ was announced I was all over it. Even if the game sucked I’d have fun painting up the minis.
Right off the bat I will say this, if you are not interested in the theme or have never seen the show, this isn’t a game for you, you’ll be confused and disinterested from the start. Go check out the show and if you want to, come back to the game.
Each game consists of two players facing off against each other on the area game board that has been divided into spaces but follows the general pattern of the ring from the show. Each team consists of three benders, one wielding fire, one with earth and one with water. Each character has their own deck of manoeuvre cards which you can customise and build out pre-match to fit your play style and tactics, you then draw these cards on your turn and determine what you’ll be doing for movement and attacks. At the end of your turn you have the ability to draft new cards to your hard so that you can play more powerful moves on your next turn.
The biggest problem with the game is the rulebook. It definitely needed at least one more pass before being approved and sent to print. There is a lot in there that is either repetitive to the point of confusion, incorrect in either the description or the accompanying reference pictures or just laid out poorly making it difficult to refer back to in game.
As we were learning to play, I found I was having to mentally refer back to the show and how the flow of the sport worked in that in order to make sense of the rule book but once we had do so, it is actually a very simple game to learn. If I was to teach someone new the game I definitely wouldn’t use the rule book.
As I said, the game is very simple to learn when you understand the rules but that in no way makes it an easy game. We’ve played three times now and each of us won one game fairly, though both were close, and the final game came down to a ‘referee decision stoppage’ in my favour so we chose to continue and I was able to win via a knockout but not before Sara very nearly did the same to me.
There is a great deal of strategy involved but not long term. You have to be able to adapt and change on the fly, not plan three turns ahead like some games. This really helps the game keep a quick pace and flow nicely. All the mechanics feel very true to the show which is great. I was disappointed greatly by the Legend of Korea video game and the Pro Bending aspect in particular as there was such wasted potential. I’m very happy to say that this game does a much better job of capturing the kinetic, fast paced action of the combat sport.
The retail version of the game comes with just two teams and their associated cards. Having played a few games with those teams I do feel like this would make the game feel quite slight if I had just picked it up off a shelf, especially depending on the price. If it was reasonably cheap and the expansion teams were all available at a reasonable price as well then I might not feel too bad.
Thankfully, the kickstarter version came with a ton of other teams, all their minis and associated cards, universal cards used by anyone and at the pledge level I went in at an entire expansion with a totally different game mode that allows two people to play cooperatively against an AI card deck as the enemy.
The components themselves are generally very nice, the miniatures are all really well sculpted and seem pretty sturdy, the only criticism some may have is that it is difficult to tell the players apart when they’re unpainted but that is just part of the problem with them all wearing essentially the same uniforms. Each team has coloured bases to put on their minis though to differentiate each bender and once painted in their team colours and with the elements around them it will be much clearer. I don’t see it as a problem, I’m looking forward to painting them all.
The board itself is pretty plain, but there isn’t a whole lot else they need to do with it unless you wanted to raise it up slightly and make it feel a bit more 3D, I think this might be a bit of a home project idea though if people were interested in doing that.
The only real problem comes with the card tokens representing the elements when they’re on the board. They’re double sided and each side is meant to be used by one player. The problem is that both sides of the fire and water tokens look very very similar, the earth tokens have a bit more of a colour difference but still not quite enough. We really had to pay close attention as to who’s was who’s as we were playing so as to not get them mixed up.
I really enjoy the game. It’s fact paced, exciting, and at times very tense. We played a couple of games back to back and then another one yesterday. We were thinking of playing it again today but we have a bad habit of playing a new game lots when we first get it and almost burning ourselves out for a while. I think next time we play we’ll mix up the teams a little bit and keep it fresh.
If you’re a fan of Korra/Avatar I highly recommend it. If you’re not, why the hell not? It’s great.
See you tomorrow.