Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Crimson Company


Fabian Fischer
Dario Reinhardt

Crimson Company

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

A battle of wits to gain control over three castles of a long-forgotten kingdom, that's the background story of Crimson Company, the debut game of two young German authors. Fabian Fischer and Dario Reinhardt have fulfilled their dream of designing a boardgame, and they decided to do everything by themselves. That's how I came in contact with Dario during SPIEL 2018, where he had brought a small first hardcopy edition of their game to show it to the public. But the game was not untested. On the contrary, the two authors had already run a successful print-and-play version of the game at Kickstarter with many positive reactions. And now, the hardcopy version will also find the way to Kickstarter to give the game the final look and add some nice components to the game. Maybe there will also be the one or other pledge level, who knows? Obviously I cannot cover the final production at the moment, but the first edition I hold in my hand is already very sophisticated, so let's begin with the review:

As said there is a battle of wits, there is no blood, just a trial of strength. But still there are some forbidding and scary creatures you can send against your opponent... For that's what we are doing: Amassing fighters on each side of a castle to outdo our opponent's strength. It is our goal to conquer two of the three available castles (in my version these castles are just cards, but I read that there will be miniatures for the castles in the final Kickstarter version). And it is a battle one-on-one, therefore Crimson Company is a pure two player game.

Both players start the game with just a few coins, nothing else. And each turn, a player gets three new coins as an income. The different fighters, all 30 fighters are unique in the game, come into play in form of cards and have to be engaged from a “market”. They not only differ in their illustrations and their strength, there are also completely different card effects as we will see. Four fighters are always on offer in this market, and players have to bid for them in their turns. But you always should be be careful with your bid. There is only one chance to go for a fighter in a turn, and if your opponent has enough money, he always can pay you off by bidding the same amount of coins. If she or he does, he will get the fighter and can play the card in the lane of one of the towers in her or his turn after that.

Therefore it is sometimes better not to choose the best fighter card from the market for your bid. If for example you go for the second best fighter and place a slightly less than the appropriate bid, your opponent has to choose: He can either pay you off (with you earning a lot of money for future biddings), or he passes and let's you take the still mighty fighter card for less money than you would have to spent in another situation.

After the bidding ceremony it is time to deploy the new fighters: You can have a maximum of two new fighters in a turn, one from the recruitment phase of your opponent and one from your own recruitment phase. All fighters must now be assigned to one of the still available castles. Each player places the fighters on their own side, so you always know the total strength of your fighters and the ones of your opponent. A castle is scored, as soon a player has four cards on his side. Then the player with the highest strength wins the castle.

The interesting thing about Crimson Company are the various unique card effects. Deployment effects happen immediately when the card comes into play. For example a card's effect might let you destroy a weaker card than the one just played in any lane of the game. A lot of these effects ask the player to flip one of the cards already in play. And when that happens, the card is still in play (and counts for the scoring condition), but it only has a strength of zero, unless the player has another card in play that says something different. But of course, the cards can be flipped again (by the effect of another card) and then the deployment effect of that card is carried out once again.

Other card effects influence the income (more money for you), the recruitment (higher or lower recruitment costs) and the scoring phases (bonus strength, if certain requirements are met). And if you are skilful in the bidding phases, you can also create some mighty combos, especially the flipping effects can be used for that purpose.

In my opinion Crimson Company is a successful debut game for the two German authors. They wanted to create something similar to Magic, but without the time-consuming pre-constructions of the decks, and they succeeded. Although the game is not very complex, there are still some interesting combos you can create and use. The bidding mechanism is a very simple one. It works well, but sometimes players tend to hoard the money. Then no one really tries to pay off his or her opponent any more, because otherwise the opponent has so much money that he easily can pay off the lower biddings in the next couple of rounds. If the players are familiar with the game, this risk is reduced, the players know the cards and begin to bid more courageous right from the start. And this is definitely the way you need to win the game.

Players should also be careful not to concentrate alone on winning the first castle. Of course, the player who outsmarts his rival for the first time, has a big chance to win the game too. But this chance is even better, if his or her opponent had tried to absolutely resist in the same lane (and lost with a lot of strong cards in it), because all cards, with very few exceptions, in this lane are destroyed after the scoring.

If you like the art of the cards (I do) and if you are looking for a quick competitive two player card game with easy rules (I always am), you can't make anything wrong with the game. But be sure that your friends like the aggressive style of play too. Otherwise she or he might end up frustrated when you are destroying all of her or his plans every second round and when she or he keeps on loosing against you...

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany