Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-5
Amount of time to play: 30-45 min
Age requirements: 12+
Set-up time: minimal
Subrosa is the first game in the Daemon Trilogy. It is a drafting card game where you must play crew members to complete contracts and score VPs.
You start Subrosa with a hand of fifteen crew member cards and three contracts. You must keep at least one of these contracts. Your goal is to complete contracts worth the most VPs before someone has only one card left in their hand.
There are five different factions and colors. Each faction in the game is represented by a different color and specializes in a certain type of actions. For example, red cards are knights and wound or discard other players’ crew members. In addition there are five different characters with different actions in each faction.
Each round you play two cards facedown into your play area (these are your crew members) then choose one of your crew members to act. Starting with the first player acting crew members are turned face up (if needed) and take their action. Instead of taking your action, you can get more contracts. You draw two contracts from the deck and decide which one you will keep.
Once all players have taken their actions you turn the crew members that acted facedown again. Then you can turn in crew members that match a contract you have to complete it. For example a contract might require one crew member from purple, blue, and green and two from red. Completed contracts are worth 100 to 800 VPs with the more valuable ones requiring more crew members.
Then you pass your hand to the left, the first player marker moves clockwise, and another round begins. If a player ever has just one card in their hand it is the last round. Your score is the total value of all the contracts you completed minus half the value of any contracts you failed to complete. The player with the highest score wins.
There is a companion app for Subrosa. It randomizes the resolution phase and lets you keep your crew members hidden adding more secrecy to the game.
Subrosa plays pretty quickly and is easy to teach. It is on the lighter side with some “take that” mechanics. The hidden cards also introduce some memorization to the game.
The components for this game are really nice. The art work and quality of the cards is great. The theme comes through the art and the rulebook is filled with the back story of the world. The rules are easy to read and follow too.
My group was torn about Subrosa. It feels like a filler card game but there is a lot of text on many of the cards which might seem daunting to new players. The game moved fast enough but felt a bit repetitive. Often when someone got a good crew member they repeatedly used them. The knight faction can help slow this but if you don’t need them for your contract you are not helping yourself and falling behind.
The app adds to the secrecy but makes the game a bit more random. You are not sure who to target so it makes countering cards harder.
Be aware there are some mean cards in the deck. If you group is sensitive or doesn’t like “take that” tactics they may not like this card game.
I am interested to see if Subrosa will tie into the other games in the series or be a stand-alone game. Some of the contracts mention protecting or eliminating people. This could be for theme or maybe you use them somehow in the future games.
Even though my group was undecided on Subrosa there are many that will like it. If you are looking for a filler that might take a few plays to fully understand all your options, give this card game a try.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 3 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 5 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 3 out of 6
Overall 3 out of 6