Today I want to talk about a wonderfully whimsical game called Seasons. It is high fantasy in a vacuum. It is a myth without context, or any attempt to explain itself. Instead, it gives you wonderful artwork and ominous objects that center on a magical battle between shadowy adversaries.
Mechanically, seasons is a game of card drafting, dice drafting, resource scarcity, limited time (turn-wise, not real-world time), and managing your interests vs. leaving your opponent what they need to achieve their goals. It is played in 3 rounds (“years”), with dice selection determining how quickly or slowly time passes from month to month, season to season.
Every decision you make is important, and planning ahead is 80% of winning.
To win, you summon magical objects and familiars and collect crystals. Each card has a value that will total up at the end of the game, and the summoned creatures and items have various abilities and costs.
You end up with a hand of 9 cards after an initial drafting phase, but you only start with 3 of them once you set 2 groups of 3 cards aside for later years, as the seasons cycle around during gameplay.
There is so much richness to the implications of these mechanics, but the game doesn’t bog down telling you a single thing about them. While you strategize over using your Necrotic Kris to sacrifice a familiar known as Figrim the Avaricious, it’s easy to reduce the game to its rules and numbers. But the implications carry so much flavor. Who crafted such a vicious weapon? Who (or what) is Figrim? None of these questions has an answer. It’s like playing Hearthstone and being unaware that World of Warcraft exists.
As with my all-time favorite, Race for the Galaxy, half the fun (for me) is this feeling of being an arcane scavenger, drawing on these elder artifacts and legendary monsters in ignorance. Sometimes, this happens to the detriment of noticing my wife accumulating points…
After all, you’re not creating or earning power, you’re pillaging it from the forces of the natural world and harnessing it to battle your foes. It feels reckless, like Indiana Jones collecting the Ark and the Grail and marauding off to war against boggarts and trolls. It’s sheer madness couched in an easy-to-learn hard-to-master set of rules.
Oh, and the custom dice for each season are an utter joy to behold (and roll).
You can play it the old-fashioned way, like we do, by grabbing a copy for your table and enjoying the custom dice.
Or you can play it online with friends and family (or against strangers) using the online gaming service Board Game Arena. The free version of the service should be more than enough to get you started.