Smoke and Mirrors is an expansion pack for Corvus Belli's Aristeia game. It requires the core set to play, which you can read our review of here. Smoke and Mirrors adds four new heroes into your games of Aristeia, as well as their associated cards. Smoke and Mirrors comes with all the cards needed for four different languages of the game (Spanish, English, French and German), so you will only be using the cards for your language. Smoke and Mirrors introduces two new states along with the characters that bring them, Smoke and Burning. We will discuss both alongside the characters that introduce those states.
The expansion includes: the 4 miniatures for the new characters, 4 character stat cards, 4 character initiative cards, 4 tactics cards for each character, rules cards, and tokens for the Burning and Smoke states.
Smoke and Mirrors introduces four new characters, Kozmo, Taowu, Murtair, and Padre-Inquisitor Mendoza. We will take a look at each character individually, as well as a couple of the cards from their four included in the expansion.
Kozmo is a very interesting character, a smoke throwing robot. It has a great defence value, but average hit points. Its value comes from his ability to drop smoke and the cards that tie in to that. Smoke blocks line of sight, so if you are able to activate him early, you can dictate a lot of the ranged combat for the round. Meteoric Charge is a great way to get Kozmo into the thick of the fighting, but his low hit points are a concern, its smoke does stick around if it is taken out though, still allowing you a full turn of smoke before they disappear. Kozmo's ability to cover the advance of your close range fighters, or even just to board control with smoke and his defensive capability make Kozmo a great character.
Kozmo comes with four cards, and we've chosen Asteroid Belt and Stellar Nucleosynthesis to discuss. Stellar Nucleosynthesis is a straight forward damage dealer, capitalising on Kozmo dropping smoke on opponents during the turn. It would need some timing to get off though, as characters can remove themselves from the smoke. Asteroid Belt allows some incredible movement around the board. If your characters are separated, Kozmo could move across the entire board to defend an allying character. It will come at a risk though, as if the dice aren't in your favor, Kosmo's low hit points can lead to it being taken out.
Taowu is an Asian magic user who focuses on denying your opponents tactics cards. His permanent Switch ability means that your opponent must chose and discard a tactics card from their hand. He isn't very fast, with only 3 movement and only 2 hit points means that he can be taken out fairly easily, although his defence dice allows you to guarantee at least one tactic card discard from your opponent. He also denies your opponent from drawing a tactics card when he is sent to the infirmary.
The two tactics cards we have chose for Taowu are Mind Reading and Confusion. Confusion allows you to swap the position of 2 of your opponents initiative cards, which will mess with the order they had planned for the turn and any sequencing along with it. Mind Reading is an interesting card. Using Taowu means that your opponent will be discarding a lot of cards, you are able to select one from the discard pile and use it like your own, putting it into their deck again after use. It does mean that you are possibly allowing them to use a card twice, but with some great timing of Taowu, you will be able to deny them using it by discarding it first when they draw it.
Padre-Inquisitor Mendoza is an incredible healer in Aristeia. His automatic ability allows you to heal 1 damage each turn from all allies within 5 hexes and his switch ability allows you to heal more during actions. If you can get him surrounded by enemies, his Deus Vult! ability can give them all the Burning state. The burning state itself doesn't deal a lot of damage to start with, rolling one orange dice and needing a damage icon for 1 damage, but if an ! is rolled, another burning state is added, allowing it to keep going. Characters can have multiple Burning states, so using the ability twice in a turn, or rolling shields during Dues Vult! will allow Mendoza to build up multiple Burning states on his enemies quickly. He only has 3 hit points though, so keeping him in the thick of the fighting for long isn't advisable.
The cards we have chosen for Padre-Inquisitor Mendoza are Res, Non Verba and Fiat Voluntas. Fiat Voluntas allows you to remove Burning tokens from enemies to heal allies. You get to chose how many are removed, so leaving some Burning tokens to allow them to spread is advisable. Res, Non Verba is an interesting card if you are able to get Burning tokens on enemy characters, you can also give them the Dazzled state which heavily restricts their ability to attack and damage your characters.
Murtair is a fast damage dealer. He has a movement of 5 and an initiative of 3 plus the amount of damage on him. Through careful control of the damage on Murtair, you can strike early at your opponent with his abilities. Jump allows Murtair entry into some great combat positions and his Bite attack can be boosted with extra energy for damage. His defence isn't great though and while running high on damage, a lucky hit could take him out.
The cards we have chosen for Murtair are Berserker Charge and Quenched. Quenched allows you to remove all damage from Murtair, which could be incredible, but it has to be timed with sending an enemy to the infirmary. Rushing Murtair in early, when on a high amount of damage himself to take out a low health character if you have Quenched in hand could be very rewarding. Berserker Charge inflicts damage to Murtair in return for damage to your opponent. If timed correctly at the end of the round, before the next round, it could be used for great value. It's a risky move to use it on a defence roll against an attacker in case they're able to deal damage on top, as his defence value isn't incredible.
The Bottom Line:
Smoke and Mirrors is a great compact expansion for Aristeia, simply and directly adding 4 new characters into the game. The four characters do have a lot more depth than those in the core set, which makes them incredibly tactical when adding them to your team. When playing out of the Core Aristeia set, it was hard to go wrong with team selection, but much more though will have to be put in to which of these characters you add to your team. This is great for the tactical development of Aristeia and you can really feel the extra technical difficulty with Smoke and Mirrors. Kozmo and Padre-Inquisitor Mendoza are the standout characters from Smoke and Mirrors, but Murtair and Taowu are equally as powerful when combined in the right team.
Get this game if:
You want to add more characters to Aristeia.
You want to add a great tactical depth to Aristeia.
You enjoy a great MOBA style board games.
Avoid this game if:
You don’t own Aristeia (in which case buy it, and then by this).
You don't enjoy MOBA style games.
Who is your favourite character from Smoke and Mirrors? Who is your favourite Aristeia character released so far? Have you got a go to team? Let us know in the comments below.
This copy of Smoke and Mirrors was provided by Corvus Belli.