I love it when publishers can bring a unique theme to the market that stands out. Blazon is a game that has players creating their own custom shield using heraldic symbols and colors. This latest release from 25th Century Games includes beautiful art from Ian O’Toole that really fits the theme.
Players begin with an empty shield that will be filled with colorful cards by the end of the game. The central board holds “device” and “tincture” cards. These are the two card types that will fill out your shield, and placement matters quite a bit. The two card types are identified by the circle or square icon appearing on both sides of the cards.
After drawing cards at the start of your turn, you can exchange them with the face up cards in the row below the central board. This gives you options as you decide on what you want to “blazon” onto your shield (player board).
Each shield has restrictions on where the cards can appear. This is really where players will need to pay attention. Players can add a new card to their shield by discarding a card(s) with an equal number of prestige to the card they are adding. In my experience you don’t want to discard too many cards, as this leaves you with very limited options on future turns.
In each of the rows of the shield, players decide if their cards will align with the top or bottom of the row. Whichever alignment you choose has to be followed for the rest of the cards on the row. Since you’re limited to only 7 cards in your hand, collecting cards for multiple rounds isn’t a valid option. Your decisions are going to lock you in moving forward.
The cards in Blazon have placement restrictions that really balance the gameplay. Card types are limited to specific areas of the shield while some card colors will only show up once on each players shield.
Choosing Your Specialty
There is a set collection element to Blazon using symbols that players need to look out for. Five different augmentation symbols show up on the two card types. Players will earn 2 points at the end of the game for each symbol that they have the most of.
Across the top of the central board are a set of “distinction” cards. They are randomly chosen at the start of the game meaning that no two games will be the same. These are also different based on the player count which makes the game scale really well. These cards are goals that all players can work toward for various point values. The first player to claim the goal will be awarded the most points, the second will claim the second most points, and so on.
Your score will primarily come from the prestige points for the cards that are added to your shield during the game. Players keep track of their points on the score track on the outside of their shield. When a player is first to reach a 10-point increment on their board, they’re awarded an awesome wooden animal achievement token. All the other players will receive a herald token. Achievement tokens are worth 2 prestige points while herald tokens work as a catch up mechanic in the game. Turning in a herald token gives players one of four different actions during future turns.
These herald tokens can be a life saver and can resupply cards when you’re struggling. Even holding on to a herald token will give you a prestige point at the end of the game.
Gameplay moves quickly and the table presence on this game is wonderful. I really enjoyed how the rulebook digs into the history of Heraldry and the background of this art form. Blazon has a refreshing theme with easy to teach mechanics and components that will definitely impress anyone who sits down to play.
Blazon launches on Kickstarter on January 4, 2022 from 25th Century Games.
A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.