Lineage is a unique blend of Asian martial arts philosophies and multi-leveled strategy in a beautifully crafted gaming experience. Creator Justin Waggle pulled inspiration from multiple eastern concepts such as the importance of Yin & Yang, the 5 elements, the 4 seasons, directions and balance and interwove them in a game that dives deeply into martial arts culture.
When people hear martial arts many think of action, fighting and extreme displays of physicality. But that is not the type of game that Lineage is. Lineage focuses on the thoughts and concepts within martial arts. It is much more an expression of the strategic, intellectual and spiritual side of martial arts and is much more closely related to Go, Othello or Chess than to Street Fighter.
The gameplay involves players controlling a master and student, and trying to acquire the secrets of martial arts, all while the Emperor and his general are trying to unite the lands under one banner. It is a game of give and take, and of strengths and limitations. With the ever-changing nature of the board, as a direct result of the players’ actions, it remains constantly challenging and engaging.
The gaming pieces, board tiles and cards are well made, very artistic and help to immerse you into the Asian culture. The rules can be very complex when learning the game for the first time, but once you are familiar with them, gameplay flows fairly easily. More illustrations and examples of gameplay movements in the instructions would go a long way to help minimize confusion during the setup and learning of the game. With how well evolved this game is, a few small tweaks is all it would take to turn it from very good to great.