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Have You Played... Griftlands?

Death by critical thinking

Word is Dano spends her downtime knitting and her uptime hitting. Best to approach her when her hands are empty, either way.

Whenever you meet someone new during a playthrough of Griftlands, Klei Entertainment's masterful deckbuilder, the first thing you get is a short box of flavour text that often summarises their demeanour, their line of work, and their attitude towards you all at once, and rarely ever resorts to actually stating those things outright. It's so much easier said than done to write one of these sentences, and yet Klei makes it look effortless.

It's little things like this that make Griftlands easily the most enjoyable deckbuilder for someone who doesn't enjoy deckbuilders.

Well, to say I don't enjoy deckbuilders is a bit of an exaggeration. I like several deckbuilders. But I've learnt they need to be more than just a deckbuilder in order to hold my interest longer than a week. Griftlands piqued my interest at first because I have immense respect for Klei, and I trust them to create a spectacular and interesting setting. What I didn't expect was the focus on the individuals. A lot of the tactics of a Griftlands playthrough occurs outside of your deck of cards, as you make choices and take paths which cause certain characters to like you, and other characters to hate you. It's a visual novel crossed with a deckbuilder, but the line is so blurred that it may as well not exist. The story, the characters, and the dialogue feed enormously into the "combat" of Griftlands.

And I put "combat" in quotes because you have two decks: one for battles and one for negotiations, and the flow and mechanics of each type of altercation are vastly different. Before engaging in a fight with a baddy in a bar, you have the option to try to convince the bouncer in the bar to join you in the fight. The bouncer may be resistant because you were unable to help them previously with their errand that needed running; but you're good friends with the owner of the bar, and they may help your negotiation by threatening to stop serving the bouncer. The web of relationships between the characters of Griftlands has a huge bearing on the battles, and that's something I've never seen before in a deckbuilder. I think this idea needs to catch on.

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About the Author
Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.

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