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Radlands Review

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All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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This post-apocalyptic dueling card game might be the best in the genre and offer the most bang for your buck. While we might not be fighting for water in the real world, at least yet, we always appreciate games that cram as much value and good gameplay into them as humanly possible, and Radlands has done just that!

Radlands Review

8 out of 10

Is it Good For Two Players? : Excellently designed for two!

If you’re looking for a dueling card game that you can play over and over again and never get bored of, this is it.  Be warned though, it definitely will take some time, patience, and practice to master, but if you’re a fan of the theme and category you can’t go wrong with Radlands.

It’s a game you appreciate more and more with each play and the amount of variety and replayability stuffed into the game’s 104 cards is absolutely insane.  

Theme: 8/10
Replayability: 8/10
Components: 7/10
Conflict: 9/10
Fun: 6/10

Husband’s Rating
8 out of 10
Wife’s Rating
8 out of 10

Pros

Extremely replayable with a lot of variety from game to game

Pretty simple and straightforward but extremely deep in terms of strategy

Well balanced and tight in terms of gameplay

High quality cards and components

Excellent art and theme

Cons

There might be a little too much direct conflict for some

Large skill gaps can be a problem for less experienced players

A game you need to play a lot to enjoy to its fullest

Gameplay Experience:

Radlands Board Game Review

We’ve had our eyes on Radlands for as long as we can remember.  The cool theme, excellent art, and the fact it’s two-player only made it seem like this game was a no brainer for us.  Well, we finally got ourselves a copy.

After making our way through the rules we got down to playing, setting up the initial recommended starting camps.  We were adding people to our camps while making minimal moves against each other.  An occasional damage here, an injury there.  The game was going quite slow as we still just weren’t grasping it.

To be fair, this dueling card game is quite different from any other we have played so this was uncharted territory, or should we say apocalyptic wasteland for us.  Eventually, though, it all clicked and we started having a real battle.

She wiped out an entire column of my people and destroyed one of my camps, and then another.  I had one camp left and it was beginning to look quite hopeless. 

But I had events primed and ready to go and while I focused on protecting my sole remaining camp I was able to destroy two of hers.  I thought I might have a chance, but ultimately I was too late. She made her move and activated an ability I had forgotten she had, destroying my final camp.

After our first game, we were feeling fairly neutral about Radlands.  It was definitely a unique game, and extremely well designed but we were unsure if it was the right game for us.

We’ve played a lot more rounds since and still feel the same way, but there’s no denying Radlands is a great game.  We’ve come to appreciate the game more and more with each play but as with most games with a lot of direct conflict, they are just not our preferred type.

When we say direct conflict we mean direct.  You’ll be destroying person after person in your opponent’s camps with catapults, canons, and other apocalyptic means.  For most that probably sounds like a grand old time, but when you have to go to bed with the leader of the opposing apocalyptic camp it’s a different story.

So while the game didn’t match our own personal tastes, each successive play made us realize more and more how great Radlands is in terms of gameplay, mechanics, and design.  The amount of replayability and variety in what is essentially a small deck of cards is staggering.

The various camps push you towards different strategies almost subconsciously and while the rest of the cards are the same each round, every game ends up feeling very different from the last.  

Some strong examples include the Obelisk camp which lets you have a larger starting hand at the cost of a destroyed camp at the start of the game and the Juggernaut which is effectively a camp camp-killing machine that you have to put in a high risk position in order to use.  

Those are just two of the 34 unique camps but it’s easy to see how the unique combinations of each can really contribute to a game that feels unique and different every single time.  

We have yet to play a game that packs this much into a single and relatively small deck of cards!

How to Play Radlands Rules Summary:

In Radlands players will be trying to destroy their opponent’s three unique camps while attempting to protect their own.  They will need to manage their water and cards carefully to come out victorious.

Radlands Camp Cards

Players each start the game by drawing six camp cards and selecting three to keep.  These camps will have unique abilities and effects and will determine the starting hand size for each player.  Players also start with a Water Silo and Raiders card in their play area.

Radlands Play Area

The player who goes first has 1 water available to spend, but every turn after players will start with three water resources per turn.  Players can use this water to play various cards, use abilities, or draw cards.  

There are multiple card types that players will come across in a game of Radlands:

  • Person: These are played in front of your camps and typically your opponent will have to make their way through these people to damage your camp.  They often have abilities or other benefits you can utilize for a cost.
  • Punks: These are person cards (facedown) without abilities.  They are instantly destroyed when attacked and placed back into the draw pile.
  • Events: These are placed in a specified space in your event queue which progresses with each turn until they reach the space where they activate. 
  • Raiders: An event card that you will have access to throughout the game.  It is one of your primary means of damaging your opponent’s camps.
  • Water Silo:  A way to store an unused water resource for a later turn.

Most cards also have a junk ability that grants players a benefit if they choose to discard the card from their hand as opposed to playing it.

Radlands Card Types and Examples

Players will take turns trying to use their limited resources as efficiently as possible while maintaining a good balance of offense and defense to successfully destroy their opponent’s three camps.

At its core that’s all there is to playing Radlands.  It’s pretty simple on paper, but after a few plays you’ll quickly see how intricate and nuanced this dueling card game is. 

Updated Rules

The designers of Radlands continue to provide excellent support for the game. They are actively updating the rules to the game as issues arise or they find significant improvements to be made. The living rule book can be found here: Radlands Rulebook

Conclusion:

Radlands is probably one of the best-designed dueling card games… period.  We can’t say it enough, the amount of variety and replayability stuffed into the game’s 104 cards is absolutely insane.  

We’ve played a lot of other two player card games and while many are good, most ultimately feel pretty much the same each time you play.  They have decent replayability but mostly just because they are so elegant, simple, and nice to play.

Radlands steps it up a notch by not only being replayable due to its excellent gameplay but also having variability through means of each unique camp.  There are 5984 different camp combinations you could have, and that’s just your camp.  When you start factoring in how your camps interact against your opponents the possibilities are nearly endless.

All we can say is the addition of these unique camp cards to a dueling card game is ingenious.

The gameplay is also very well thought out and designed.  It all comes together to create an extremely tactical, tight, and strategic battle between two players.

Every decision matters in Radlands and initially, while the game may feel like all luck, it’s easy to see that after getting accustomed to this wasteland, the more skilled player will almost always come out on top.  It will take a lot of practice, attention, and learning of the cards, but for many those requirements are what will make this game a staple of their collection.

This will also be what makes the game not appeal to some.  Radlands is very easy to play but ultimately has a pretty high learning curve in terms of strategy.  It is a very deep game under the surface, so players will get the most out of it if they play it a lot.

This brings us to a big negative though and one many two player games fall victim to.  Players need to be pretty equal in skill for the game to work.  A wide skill gap can be pretty frustrating to the player who is on the lower side of that scale as they will very rarely get that lucky win against a player who knows what they’re doing, but I guess some could argue that’s just the way of the post-apocalyptic world.    

The only other consideration before deciding if Radlands is a good game for you and your gaming partner is how much direct conflict you like in your games.  As we said earlier this game will have you obliterating each other turn after turn, so if you prefer the more solitaire style of some other board games, you might want to pass on this one.

We ourselves are not huge fans of conflict, especially in two player games, but in a game like Radlands, it’s not as huge of a deal as it’s pretty much expected. The game length is also short enough that one brutal game doesn’t leave you feeling as terrible since it’s over pretty quickly once you start losing.

Overall Radlands, while not our preferred type of game in terms of levels of conflict, has so much replayability and variety in a small package that I don’t think any other game will come close to replacing it on our shelves.

If you’re looking for a dueling card game that you can play over and over again and never get bored of, this is it.  Be warned though, it definitely will take some time, patience, and practice to master, but if you’re a fan of the theme and category you can’t go wrong with Radlands.

Is Radlands Good For 2 Players?

Radlands is a two player only dueling card game, so everything we have said above applies.  It is probably one of the best games in this category.  It is extremely well designed in terms of gameplay, with every decision-making the game quite balanced at this player count.

Other two player dueling games often just end up being a miserable experience for the player who falls behind and has to suffer a grueling battle that they know they lost 30 minutes prior.  

Radlands falls victim to this occasionally (especially if one player is much more skilled than the other) but mostly, games result in a very back-and-forth battle with both players having to shift between offense and defense, never truly knowing who will come out on top.

The game’s designer, Daniel Piechnick, previously a Magic The Gathering External developer has managed to achieve a game experience of a full-fledged dueling trading card game in a mere 104 cards. 

Pros:

  • Extremely replayable with a lot of variety from game to game
  • Excellent art and theme
  • Pretty simple and straightforward but extremely deep in terms of strategy
  • Well balanced and tight in terms of gameplay
  • High quality cards and components

Cons:

  • There might be a little too much direct conflict for some
  • Large skill gaps can be a problem for less experienced players
  • A game you need to play a lot to enjoy to its fullest

Roxley Games Radlands
Roxley Games Radlands
Roxley Games Radlands

We hope this Radlands two player review has helped you.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site's costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


Radlands Deluxe and Super Deluxe Edition

If this is a game that sounds up your alley you might consider jumping right in with the deluxe or super deluxe edition of the card game.  These versions will definitely cost you a bit more but come with some pretty nice upgrades compared to the retail edition.  You can find the deluxe versions on the games official page: Radlands (roxley.com)

None of these upgrades are a necessity to enjoy the game in our opinion but some make the game easier to learn (player mats) and improve a few quality of life aspects.

  • Deluxe: Comes with an upgraded magnetic sealed box and higher quality water discs and cards.
  • Super Deluxe:  This version comes with everything in the deluxe, a numbered box that holds everything and two “Hazmat” player area neoprene mats.

Radlands Hazmats

These neoprene mats are pretty sweet but like we said not essential.  You can actually order this separately here if you end up liking the game enough so don’t let the FOMO get to you if you’re not entirely sure if the super deluxe edition is right for you.

All these upgrades are nice but they do take away one of the best things about the game, its small, portable, and compact size, at least if you want to use the mats and larger boxes.  Keep that in mind when deciding which version of the game you want.


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