Risk It All on One Perilous Pilgrimage
Zor is a worthy experience for deck-builder fans
On a clear and starry night, Zor, the brightest star of all, devastates the land. The Slorfs, a tribe of furry monsters, send Gorb and Hulga to investigate. Little do Gorb and Hulga know that they are risking everything on this dangerous journey.
Zor: Pilgrimage of the Slorfs is a tabletop-inspired game that challenges you to build a lean and mean deck while strategically taking advantage of board elements in a turn-based battle against enemies at each stage of the Slorfs’ journey. Defeating enemies is straightforward, with the starting deck of six movement cards and one each of attack and resource-gathering cards shared between Gorb and Hulga. Combining the right cards in subsequent rounds, however, quickly becomes a delicate balancing act. The stakes are high, as the death of either Gorb or Hulga ends the game, and players are returned to the very beginning of the journey. Not only that, but you also end up losing all the experience and resources.
Gems and resources that are needed to craft or upgrade cards and enhance player abilities are randomly generated on the board. You can also customize the board to favor more resources, more hazards, or some combination of both. Besides hazards and resources, many of the card upgrade options are also subject to randomness, which can really force you to rethink your initial strategy. Even with an abundance of goodies and minimal dangers, I was always under constant pressure to evaluate the risks and benefits of additional harvesting over maintaining Gorb and Hulga’s health.
I thoroughly enjoyed working out a plan of attack and progression in Zor. Righteous Hammer Games seems focused on developing challenging but satisfying card and environment mechanics in Zor, resulting in a tightly balanced deck builder. The difficulty in beating the board, the high stakes involved, and the random rolls kept me coming back to solve the puzzle.
Despite being a video game, Zor’s enemy battles and tiled maps are very reminiscent of tabletop dungeon crawlers like Gloomhaven. I found myself missing a couple of features from traditional tabletop adventure games, primarily the lack of an engaging storyline, and distinct player and boss enemy characters. The player-controlled Gorb and Hulga vary in appearance only, and the Grimp bosses were no more than heavy-hitters.
On the other hand, the multiple minor enemies had varying traits that were fun to discover and manipulate. With good planning, for example, I can relocate across hazardous terrain at no cost by taking advantage of Gustwood’s gales. Even the resource grubs had distinctly animated characteristics! Nevertheless, since Zor is out on early access and is being actively developed, I’m hopeful that the story and characters will continue to be fleshed out.
As a video game, Zor also offers quite a few advantages over the traditional tabletop. Setup is infinitely simpler without having to piece together disparate map sections to create new regions, thereby opening up endless configuration and story possibilities. Tracking phase-dependent changes in enemies, movements, and myriad other rules is also automatically taken care of in-game, which is a huge deal, considering that tracking applications have been developed and are popular for games like Gloomhaven. Finally, as a single-player game, Zor removes the need to assemble a group to enjoy this genre, which, depending on your perspective, can be an advantage or a drawback. I, for one, am looking forward to more good fun in the world of Zor.
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