This is the first of nine mini-reviews about the up and coming prototypes I played at BGG.Con.

Tug O’ Lords was the first game I played on my BGG.Con trip, and was one of the few games I immediately wanted to play again when it concluded. My friend James and I met designers Chris Dixon and Jascha Frei at Ruby Tuesday in Denver just prior to departing on our flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth and had the chance to demo the game.

Tug O’ Lords is a tug of war game in the style of DOTA or League of Legends. Each player has a castle with a number of fields in between along two paths. Each player assembles a deck by combining two smaller decks in Smash-Up style: one race and one magic element. I played the Fire Undead while James commanded the Air Demons. On your turn you can deploy creatures to your castle, and then they slowly march toward the opposing castle. When your creatures occupy the same field as an opposing creature they must fight before moving on. If your creatures manage to survive long enough to reach your opponents castle they inflict damage upon it. If you castle takes five damage, you lose! In the game we played I raised an army of skeletons in my defense but in the end I fell prey to a horde of flying demons smashing against my castle walls.

While the mechanics of Tug O’ Lords are simple, the game really shines through the card abilities and the unique combinations of race + element – giving Tug O’ Lords a surprisingly deep level of strategy and replayability.