Pocket Paragons: Rivals of Aether [Micro]

Base price: $25.
2 players. You can buy a solo mode.
Play time: < 15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy directly!
Logged plays: 4 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Pocket Paragons: Rivals of Aether was provided by Solis Game Studio.

We’re back to Pocket Paragons! It’s been a while, so if you don’t remember, I wrote up Pocket Paragons: Origins a while ago. Got a chance to play some games with Chris at PAX Unplugged and he filled out the rest of my set, so, here we are, writing up the rest! I’ve been told there are some new sets coming in the near future, which is great news for a game that I already like. We’ll see what happens next on that front. In the meantime, I’m covering the other sets in the near future, so let’s check them out and see what’s up!

In Pocket Paragons: Rivals of Aether, the characters of the indie fighting game are settling their differences in the format of Pocket Paragons! That means that you’ll be once again playing cards, checking symbols, matching counters, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on the side of the transaction you’re on), pulling of an Execute combo! Each fighter brings their own useful skills this time around to change how you play Pocket Paragons. Some try to string together effects based on dealing damage to the opponent, another will focus on countering, and one even attempts to pull off big hits once their cards are exhausted, so you’ll need to master them all to become a pro! Just make sure you keep an eye out for each character’s Ultimate; those big, energy-expensive abilities can deal real damage (or change the game) if you’re not careful. How will the Rivals of Aether influence your game?

Overall: 8 / 10

So I’ve had a chance to try out the various Pocket Paragons sets, and I think this and the Temporal Odyssey set are probably my second-favorite out of the four? It can be somewhat difficult to differentiate between sets since they’re all quick and straightforward little dueling games, but I’ll do the best that I can. Pocket Paragons, at its core, is a game that relies on being quick to pick up and easy to replay. While Rivals of Aether isn’t the most recognizable crossover, the theme doesn’t detract from Pocket Paragons’s core ethos. There are three basic characters, two advanced, and one expert, covering a wide range of skills and letting players choose something that fits their playstyle. Personally, I found these to be among the easiest to learn (at least, easier than the AEGIS set), even if figuring out how to execute their strategies was a little more difficult. That comes with time, I suppose.

I still think that Pocket Paragons made a good call pairing up with the crossovers they chose. Rivals of Aether, a thing that I know nothing about, still has some things going for it that make it an attractive choice for a crossover. The characters are all bold and colorful, they have abilities that line up with the character art (making the game feel a bit more intuitive), and they just generally seem fun. I wouldn’t necessarily say that playing this makes me want to play Rivals of Aether, but I imagine fans of both series will be pleased to see the crossover, as someone who’s generally very pro-crossover anyways. I think having an all-Expert set as a crossover set, for instance, would be an odd choice, especially since the game purports to be pretty much standalone.

All of this is to say that I’ve been a fan of Pocket Paragons for some time, and this set doesn’t really change that, even if I mildly prefer some of the abilities of the Origins set. I don’t particularly dislike any abilities in this set (though the Expert ability and the other character focused on countering are particularly entertaining, especially when you can land their special skills), and I feel like this is another solid set for teaching players how to engage with Pocket Paragons. I still like the core gameplay loop of play a card, check for counters, and occasionally get executed, though after trying the game out with a few new players, I’ll at least say that executing a new player is not generally seen as fun for them. Who’d’ve thought. I do enjoy Pocket Paragons, though, and if you’re looking for another set, you’re looking for an entry to the series, or you’re a fan of Rivals of Aether, the Pocket Paragons: Rivals of Aether set is a fun one!

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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