I couldn’t buy it and they wouldn’t let me steal their demo copy (believe me, I considered it…), but I did get to sit down and play Petroglyph Games’ upcoming deck-building game, Heroes of Graxia. You know what? Whatever you’re currently thinking about this game, you’re probably wrong. This one is a winner.

The gameplay starts out looking an awful lot like Dominion. Draw five cards from a pre-defined starter deck. Take two actions (play or attack) and then buy new cards with whatever you have left over. Discard all the cards you used for money and the ones you bought and then draw a new hand of five cards. But there are a few twists – you start play with a hero who is pretty butch and can receive equipment (which are cards you can buy). He also can be joined by new legions (which are also cards you can buy) which can also be equipped. Other cards for purchase include spells which can influence combat or create havoc in enemy ranks.

Remember those cards you were buying? They’re not static. They’re laid out in a grid and every time you buy one, it’s replaced with a new card of the corresponding type at random. All of this adds a really interesting pacing to the game that is really enjoyable.

Yeah, yeah, but what about the combat? Is there really player interaction in a deck-building game? You betcha. Each game includes a set of monsters who can be attacked. Beat a monster and you get a number of victory points (and these monsters hit pretty hard). Here’s where it gets interesting – instead of attacking a monster, players can attack each other. Overextend yourself (attacking a particularly nasty monster can cause you really rack up some damage) and one of your fellow players will come over and take you apart. Killing off a legion nets a player prestige points which indicate when the game is over (you get a prestige point just for attacking another player – this can be a pretty savage little game).

I really enjoyed this title and can see it being a sleeper hit when it releases in September (or early release at Gencon).