Triple Ace Games are a role playing game company, let's put that out there right at the start, their major output is rule and source books for their Leagues of Adventure and Hellfrost games, but over the last few years Triple Ace have been getting into board game development.
Two years ago they released Rocket Race, which I was a big fan of, and last year they released Halfling Feast, which I wasn't as enamoured with. Both games however, are light quick games, taking around 10 to 20 minutes and ideal to fit in between role playing game sessions or while waiting for Andy to finish wolfing down his cheesy chips with kebab meat. Imps Devilish Duels is another game to fit snugly into this niche, it plays quick, it plays light and it fits into your pocket.
The thing is Imps is so light and fast it's a difficult game to review. The game is simply a case of rolling some dice, selecting which imps you want to bring to battle, a quick re-roll and then face off in four elemental contests. The strategy comes from rewards in each trial - the first three trials allow you to manipulate dice in play but the winner of the air trial gets to banish an imp from the game.
Imps are your variation between games and the core of your strategy. Each Imp has a different special ability and you will pick four from the available twelve to make up your team for each game. The strategy is on picking which Imp to put into play each round, balancing the Imp's special ability against the risk that your chosen imp could be ejected from the game.
Some imps add to the value of dice, others can screw around with the order of the various trials and, with this being a prototype version of the game, I did feel that some of the Imps were more powerful than others, or at least more obviously useful. Nimbus is the Imp that stood out the most as being rather powerful, making players use both their air and water dice in the air trial.
Here's the thing about Imps Devilish Duels, I felt game was lying to me. It makes you think that you have control over your destiny, it fools you into thinking that you can employ a strategy but in reality your strategy is limited as you're beholden to the dice. Imps is effectively gambling, even though it presents you with choices at each stage you're still at the mercy of dice rolls.
With that in mind your mileage in Imps is going to depend entirely on how much control you expect in a game. Personally I love dice in my games; the combination of randomness and the tactile experience of rolling the dice across the table is one of the things I love about gaming whether it be in a board game, war game or RPG but Imps tips the balance too far in the direction of randomness for me, it just takes a little too much control away from me for me to fully enjoy the game.
That being said, I don't honestly believe that Imps Devilish Duels was ever intended to be an intense strategy game. I have no doubt that the chaps over at Triple Ace Games intended Imps to be a light and fast game, and it fits neatly into their niche of small box games.
If you're already a fan of Triple Ace Games board game range, or are a fan of dice throwing and randomness go check out Imps Devilish Duels on Kickstarter now.
This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.