Raise your hand if you pumped quarters in to a side-scrolling arcade game back in the day. Raise your hand if you button mashed with Mario and Luigi. Raise your hand if you love taking historical figures and ripping them out of context just so they can beat up bad guys. You look ridiculous with your hands up… this is not elementary school. Put your hands down and let’s look at Pixel Lincoln.
The ultimate goal of Pixel Lincoln is to gain the most victory points by either collecting powerful items or by beating up on the bad guys. Just about every card in the game has a victory point value associated with it. As the game progresses, more and more cards are added to players decks or score piles. When the two bosses are defeated, the player with the most points wins.
Once the decks are constructed, the starting section of the level is revealed. 5 cards are drawn from the top of the deck to make up the first part of the level. As the players move through the level, from left to right, the level ‘scrolls.’ This rather inventive mechanic involves shifting all of the players to the left, and revealing more cards from the level deck to keep the adventure going.
Most cards also have an associated suit. This suit helps players score points through characters, who are looking for sets of suits, or by playing the card for the suit ability, not the normal one. These suits allow for changing of levels, cancelling other card abilities among other things.
In standard deck building fashion, the player will be constantly altering their deck of cards. Players will add more valuable cards and try to remove the basic, low value cards. When a players deck is depleted, they shuffle their discard pile (containing all of their new items acquired) and form a new draw pile.
Things and Bits:
The artwork is well done. If you like pixel art, you are going to love it, as there are pixels everywhere in this game. The iconography is fine. Each card has an icon that corresponds to what it can do, but generally these are not paid attention to as every card does a different thing… so keeping track of every unique icon is more troublesome that just reading the card.
The rule book is lacking. After our first play we had to go online to look up some clarification on a few things. Teaching the game is relatively easy, and the game is fairly light. Setting up takes a while as you have to build each of the level decks. Playing the game is quick, with most games taking about 40 minutes. Due to the limited player interaction, more players just means that each player will have less turns over all, but other that that nothing really changes with more or less players.
The scrolling mechanism is an interesting one that is very thematic. It does give the feeling of playing an old arcade side-scroller, the style that the game is paying homage to. But mechanically it does not do much. It does give some uncertainty when you are approaching the right hand side of a level, but at the end of the day the uncertainty does not really mean anything to game play (see above about choices).
Along with a lot of other deck builder games, there is almost no player interaction in the game. Player interaction is carried out through slime enemies (negative victory points) and defeating, collecting, or leaving things for opponents to deal with. This means that if someone has all of the good items (by luck) they are going to be able to kill more monsters, and get more points and there is not really anything other players can do to slow them down, or to catch up.
Pixel Lincoln is a game that is trying really hard to be a deck builder, but forces a theme over it that just makes the deck building aspect of the game evaporate. I am sure that some people are going to love the style, and the theme: more power to them. But for those of you who are looking for an interesting new deck builder, jump on over to the next game, Pixel Lincoln is not for you.