I’ve had Sellswords by Level 99 Games on my game shelf for quite some time, and I just now realized I haven’t ever shared my thoughts on it!
I picked up this great little game as an impulse buy at my FLGS because I wanted something small to take with me on a camping trip. What I assumed would be a fun filler game for a weekend getaway turned into a fun filler game for pretty much every weekend event I go to! Sellswords ticks all the boxes for a great filler game (see my post about What Makes a Great Filler Game), including the bit about it being replayable. What’s great about it is it can be as mind-numbingly strategic as you want it to be, or as casual, laissez-faire as you want it to be.
On the strategic side of the coin, Sellswords requires players to think several moves ahead to plan for the optimal placement of their cards in the 5×5 grid, while accounting for all potential and likely moves their opponent will make. However, on the casual side, Sellswords is also just a light placement game where you can play the best card in your hand each turn, in the best place at that given moment. I don’t know of many other games that handle this dichotomy of “this game could get really serious… or also be really casual” so well. It makes for an entirely different game experience when I’m playing with my brother, for instance, who is notorious for power-gaming, versus playing with my friend at the bar, who is notorious for not power-gaming. And both experiences are just as fun.
Part of the appeal of Sellswords, for me at least, is its nostalgia-inducing charm. The artwork and theme is very reminiscent of the older Final Fantasy games (especially Final Fantasy Tactics), which I played non-stop as a kid. Even the gameplay is sort of a cross between Final Fantasy Tactics (choosing your warriors from a roster of seemingly disparate historic eras and regions, but who cares because fantasy) and the collectibe card minigame in Final Fantasy VIII (Triple Triad).
I guess I didn’t realize how popular Sellswords was – I was always under the impression it was the sort of obscure, back of the FLGS find that most gamers overlooked. But it seems like I was wrong; a couple months ago, Level 99 Games announced a stand-alone expansion called Olympus that will add 50 more characters and 4 more terrain tiles to the base set! It’s pretty much an auto-buy for me, but it’s worth noting that the artwork–while slightly different to accentuate the ancient Greek theme–still has the same chibi Final Fantasy charm. What started as an impulse buy for a camping trip might just grow into a full-on tackle box of cards that will require extra space in the camping gear… and I’m not necessarily mad about that!
Until next time, gang! Keep it plucky,