By Harrison Neville
Over two years ago, I stumbled upon Ignite by Ginger Snap Gaming on Kickstarter and was instantly enthralled. I spent over an hour examining the game’s Kickstarter page, debating whether or not I would back it. The next day, I woke up and almost immediately spent $160 to back the budding game’s development, securing myself a copy of the base game and an expansion pack. Unfortunately, due to delays caused by the pandemic and general issues with production, the game was only delivered to backers this year. Despite the long wait, I can honestly say that it was worth every penny.
Visually, Ignite is a beautiful game. Each faction has its own set of detailed miniatures, and a huge part of the reason that Ginger Snap Gaming took so long in development is that they were very strict when it came to the quality of each individual piece of the game. The box has beautiful art on the outside, and the illustrations in the instruction manual do a good job establishing the theme of the game.
The story of Ignite is relatively simple, and a little cliché, but it serves well and makes sense. The idea is that humans and elves experimented with forbidden magic in an effort to destroy each other, resulting in the world falling apart. This is the explanation given for the lava terrain scattered across the board. It also is the reason behind all of the various factions’ involvement in the conflict, because the chaos directly harmed many of them and forced them all to compete for limited resources.
Ignite’s core mechanic is deck-building, which means players work throughout the game to cultivate their starting decks into something that fits their play style and overall strategy. Ignite stands out amongst deck-builders, because while most are focused purely on the deck-building aspect of the game, Ignite adds in miniatures and a tactical map.
Throughout the game, players will buy cards in select sections of the map and add those cards to their decks. Many of those cards can be used to deal damage to their opponent’s units, with each point of damage marked by a small dagger designed to insert into slots on the back of the miniatures. Whenever a unit has all of its dagger slots filled, the player who dealt the last point of damage takes that unit as a trophy, which counts for one victory point. Depending on the number of players, players will need between 3-5 victory points in order to win.
For many who are fans of deck-builders, Ignite might feel slow or lacking in synergy compared to games like Ascension or Dominion. The trick with Ignite is every faction in the game has a different ability, and players have to figure out how to work their faction’s abilities to get the most out of their decks. The cards are interacting with the board as well, so it is important to consider what the board looks like while buying cards.
The beauty of Ignite lies in its incredible variety. Each game you set out 16 different battle decks of cards to be bought throughout the game, but since there are a total of 50 different potential battle decks, it feels like there is an endless number of combinations to be tried. Additionally, the board is made up of double-sided tiles which can be placed randomly, creating a different board state for every game.
The strategies available to a player are equally numerous. Players could choose to build themselves a deck with a high number of powerful weapons and movement cards, allowing them to hit hard and stay out of reach of opponents, or they could choose to play a deck full of defensive cards, using ice walls and shields to deflect their opponent’s attacks until they have the opportunity to strike. The plethora of options given to payers for strategy helps Ignite feel fresh with each new game.
The game is not without its flaws. One faction, the Lizardmen, has the ability to traverse hazardous terrain without suffering damage. Personally, I have had a lot of fun using the game’s teleportation card to swap places with another player’s unit dropping it into lava and instantly killing it, but this only works if the right cards are in play and there is enough hazardous terrain. If the conditions aren’t right, then the Lizardmen lack the advantages of the other factions. This would seriously handicap players in an eight-player game, although those who bought Ignite through Kickstarter have a ninth faction, which somewhat alleviates the issue.
This isn’t an insurmountable challenge; it just means that players should discuss the situation and make sure to put cards in the game that will allow for the Lizardmen to play to the best of their ability.
All in all, Ignite is an amazing game, and while those unfamiliar with deck-builders might struggle to pick it up at first, once the rules are understood, the game is relatively simple. The addition of the tactical map levels the playing field so that fans of deck-builders and new players alike are able to play on relatively even footing. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fun new game to play with family and friends.