top of page

FantasyForm - Preview

Designer: Lucas Gentry
Artist: Dm3
Publisher: Button Shy
Player Count: 1 Player
Play Time: 10-30 minutes

Transform from a mere practicing alchemist into a powerful elemental, and strike down your rival! In this preview of FantasyForm, an upcoming solo card game from Button Shy Games, I share a first look at the splashy artwork and make comparisons to its stand-alone predecessor, SpaceShipped.

four cards each with a different elemental form, air water, earth, fire fantasyform with numbers and ability text.
Air, Water, Earth, and Fire Elemental Form Cards

Key Points

  • Portable: only 18 cards, and comes in a thin wallet case

  • Quick: games take about 20 minutes and it is easy to shuffle up and play again

  • Fantasy reskin of the similar deck-building game SpaceShipped

FantasyForm is a game about dueling alchemists transforming into mighty elemental beings—Air, Earth, Fire, and Water—and duking it out for preeminence. This is a light, quick deck-building game in which the player is manipulating cards between various zones.

The game is the follow-up to designer Lucas Gentry’s 2019 SpaceShipped and largely follows a similar gameplay formula. A preview copy of FantasyForm was kindly provided by Button Shy Games, but some artwork featured in these photographs may change before first printing.

Card featuring a bearded traveler labeled Guide, Companion
Guide Companion Card, the player's starting companion

How to Play

The player begins as a basic alchemist—no abilities and no boons—equipped with a torch and a guide companion. The player’s form, equipment, and companion are each represented by one of the eighteen game cards and are located in a tableau in front of the player. The remainder of the cards are dealt into three zones:

  • The Upgrades Row consists of three cards showing their Forms/Companions/Artifacts side. The player can purchase any of these upgrades for their Shard cost during the Market Phase.

  • The Encounters Row also consists of three cards but with the cards flipped to their Encounters Side. At the start of the turn, the first two of these encounters are activated in order resulting in bonuses or penalties for the player.

  • The final card in the Encounters Row sets the market rate for exchanging Essences on the Ethereal Row that turn. Four types of Essences can be purchased by paying their cost in Shards, sold for their value in Shards, or discarded to use their one-time ability.

cards arranged in three rows and a tableau with different orientations. fantasyform
Mid-game setup

After the player resolves encounters and makes exchanges on the market each turn, cards automatically cycle between zones to switch-up which cards are available to the player in each row. This way, the player has access to different upgrades and faces new encounters each turn. It also means they can utilize the changing costs of Essences in the Ethereal Row to earn Shards; buy low, sell high. The player spends these Shards to purchase upgraded forms, companions, and equipment and to deal hits to their rival.

The objective of FantasyForm is to defeat the rival alchemist by dealing hits at the conclusion of each round. If the rival’s health stat reaches 0 before the end of the game’s fifth round, the player wins. However, if the player’s health stat ever reaches 0 or five turns elapse without victory, the rival is victorious.


FantasyForm makes the most out of just eighteen game cards. As the player moves cards between zones, their orientation changes to show different information to the player. Each card contains encounters, a form/companion/equipment, and an essence that each become relevant when that card is in a different row. In this way each game card is functionally three cards in one, with a clever, albeit somewhat fiddly, method for transforming them.

That being said, there is a good deal of component manipulation in this game—shuffling, flipping, rotating, and moving cards. And since the cards are stored in a small, tight-fitting wallet, they are really not conducive to sleeving. Although I can see these cards wearing down rather quickly, games are made to be played, no?

Card with three sections of text labeled outlands encounter, forge encounter and market prices.
Example encounter side of a card


The player only has five turns to beat their rival in FantasyForm and that feels like just the right amount of time to assemble a powerful elemental form and build up a store of Shards with which to do battle. Each decision and action feels important given the pace of the game and the tightness of the card management puzzle seems nearly on par with other comparable, quick solitaire deck-builders like 20 Strong or Tony Boydell’s Aleph Null (or Lux Aeterna).

My favorite aspect of FantasyForm is the market manipulation. The random encounters each turn are, over the course of a game, likely going to have a fairly neutral effect on the player’s resources. So the primary way a player is going to acquire Shards is trading essences in the Ethereal Row. The player must pay attention to both the current prices of each type of essence, and the next cards in the Encounters Row which will determine those prices in the coming turns. Like any market, there is high risk and high reward as some random encounters can force the player to discard essences or change the nature of the exchange even further in their favor.

However, when the player is low on Shards, often due to resolving negative encounters, it feels like they have little agency to climb their way back into the game. As the saying goes, “you need to spend money to make money.” But without Shards to spend, the player is left depending on the Encounter Row to bail them out of arrears. During those turns the player is left waiting for a random windfall, it can feel like they are just going through the motions, so be sure to hang on to a comfortable store of Shards when making a big purchase in the Upgrades Row or when dealing hits to the rival.

three cards labeled Seekers Satchel, Healer, and Torch with unique ability text
Upgrades Row featuring two artifacts and one companion

Final Thoughts: SpaceShipped 2.0?

FantasyForm is a fantasy genre reskin of the designer’s earlier deck-building adventure SpaceShipped. Gameplay feels especially familiar as the progression of the game, turn sequence, and market management are all borrowed closely from SpaceShipped’s design. There are a few differences fans of the original will note, including how the player’s tableau is structured and how each unique elemental form has special abilities for both the player and the rival depending on which alchemist adopted the form.

Fortunately I enjoyed SpaceShipped and I think that the new theme and fresh tweaks offer enough of a difference that players of the former can also enjoy the follow-up. FantasyForm should also appeal to more fantasy-bent solo gamers looking for small, quick games, although the theme really does not have significant bearing on the gameplay itself. The largely comic-inspired character portrait artwork from dm3 is a fine addition to the Wallet Series’ diverse portfolio.

Interested in FantasyForm? Become a member of the Button Shy Board Game Of The Month Club.

game cards featuring unique artwork and ability text
Example player tableau area, including Fire Elemental form, Magentine Hammer artifact, and Bandit companion

Recent Posts

See All



Enjoy what you read?

Subscribe to the blog to get notifications about new posts right to your electronic mailbox.

Thanks for submitting!

Buy me a coffee.

In lieu of a subscription service, I accept tips on Ko-Fi. Your generosity supports the maintenance and growth of this site.

bottom of page