Aldarra – Crowdfunding Preview
The world of Aldarra has been shattered. But now, four factions are vying for control. Who will gain access to the mines, harvest the crystals and control the skies. Will you come out victorious in this battle of the area control battle for supremacy in the skies over Aldarra? Let’s see how Aldarra from Arcane Minis plays and if this Kickstarter is going to be for you?
Player Count: 3-4 Player
Game Length: 30 Minutes Per Player
Game Type: Area Control
Game Mechanics: Area Control, Combat, Variable Player Powers
Link: Aldarra Campaign – February 22nd
Disclaimer: Aldarra was sent to me to preview/review as a prototype copy. This is an unpaid preview.
Aldarra Game Play Highlights
Let’s talk real quick about how this game works. It is an area control game where you build up your fleet, spread out, get resources, and then build out more. All the while, you bump into the other factions, fighting over land areas that are the most tempting and trying to stop your opponents from collecting more than you can.
You can see video of the game play here below. Note the video gives you an idea of how the game works and if it might be right for you. Arcane Minis reached out to me to do this preview for them, but they have someone else doing a rules video that will teach you how to play. Check that out on the Kickstarter. My video is to show you how the game works.
The two rules we messed up were that the Syndicate only captures when they attack. And that you need an engineer when you build an outpost. The second one might have changed the game slightly, but I’ve had a chance to explore it mor since, and the recording needed to get scheduled when I could.
While Aldarra is mainly an area control game, there are some pieces that stand out outside of the norm. I’ll talk a bit more about what it compares to later. One of the things that everyone I played with really liked was the exploration. It is an action that you want to do if you can, and you might even plan ways to do it, if you aren’t getting into a fight.
At the end of your turn, you can explore an area that hasn’t been explored, marking that it is now explored. And the exploration might give you money, it might give you a choice, roll a die and get a ship or lose a ship. There are ones that you keep in your hand that force enemies to come attack you on your turn, getting you an extra combat.
But, every time that you flip over one of these cards, it feels special. It feels like you are getting something that no one else has. And yes, there are repeats on the exploration cards. And I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more and a bit of wording cleaned up, but it felt good every time you explored.
Similar to Exploration, Secondary Objectives add to the feeling of difference in the game. When I get a secondary objective, it means that I get a goal that no one else has. Yes, again, there are repeats, but with how many you see in the game, I didn’t feel like it was too many of them.
I also like when a game gives you secondary objectives like this because that gives me, as a player, some direction. If I need to get two frigates onto slip streams, now I know what to build for my next turn. Maybe I need to win a combat with only frigates, I can do that. If I need to start a combat with less troops than you have, I can do that. And all of these objectives give you more points. And getting to twenty points and past to trigger the end is the name of the game.
So, this is another thing that makes you feel different. And I think that is one real strong suit of this game making you feel different. It’s kind of in the vein of something like Blood Rage where you become more variable in what you can do as you go along in the game. But in Aldarra, you start with variable player powers, and then become more unique as you go.
And disciplines are the way that you do that. I really like how the different ones work, some of them just let you upgrade a ship. And those are amazing and very important for the game. But others give you different bonuses. Like enemies must attack a building first. Might sound odd, but it means I can pummel them more with my ships that way.
The Scale of the Game
If you checked out the video, you probably saw how massive the game was on the table. We really couldn’t show off the player boards, and that was with my camera up as high as possible. This is a massive game. And I think that helps it out. Now, it might not help the price point of the game, but you are getting a lot of massive minis which look amazing.
But, I will say, the scale of the game, the size of the board and size of the minis, it’s great. It makes the game feel that much more epic. And while it makes the board very full, it isn’t too busy. Again, the size of the minis I think helps. It makes it really easy to see what ships are what. Though, sometimes the frigates can hide behind bigger ships.
Aldarra feels like a game that I’d take to my local game store, the one that serves food, set it up and play a massive game, taking our time, eating a meal, and having a drink while I play it. Or pull it out at a convention and play it as people walk by to checkout what th is game is. And that just makes Aldarra feel so epic.
Who Is This Game For?
Area control fans, it is going to be great for you. Aldarra forces you to be in each other’s faces, and that is great. This is where I’m going to compare it to a number of games. For me, Aldarra is a mash-up for Cry Havoc, Risk, and Small World. Yes, it’s dudes on a map and rolling dice for combat like risk, but it’s so much more. It has a small board size so you can’t turtle like in Small World, but there is more. And the combat going in different waves and the different faction powers, plus building your hand of cards, all remind me over Cry Havoc.
This is a game where you will get your troops just decimated from time to time. But with how you rebuild you are never out of it. If you made it to the end of the game play, you’ll see that I was behind by a bit. And you’ll see my troops just get destroyed. But, I built back up and had a fairly strong last turn. And if the game went one more round, I would have had an extremely strong follow-up turn. And everyone is fighting everyone. So even in a three player game, ganging up on a single player will never be the best strategy.
Aldarra Initial Impressions
This is a fun massive game that will take a while to play. If you look at the time of the YouTube video, you’ll see that we didn’t make it into the thirty minutes per player range. Now, there are two factors that certainly aided in the length of our game play. Playing on camera always takes longer. You talk through your turns more. And we aren’t that experienced with the game. I could see getting close to 90 minutes for a three player game when you know the game.
I also think that a lot of people will see Aldarra and worry about how complex the game is since it looks so big. While We did think that wording maybe could be clarified on some cards the game play itself, very simple. And not in a bad way, but they lay out everything that you do on the player board. And they lay out what terrain types do. I think it is a game I could not play for a year and still remember mainly how to play it. There aren’t a lot of games this big that is the case.
I do wonder a little bit about the size. Now, the size of the game makes it extremely epic. And honestly, I don’t know that I’d want the game to be any smaller. When I bring five ships into an area and they barely fit, or don’t really all fit onto the area, that feels great. But know that this is a table hog. That was about two-thirds of my gaming table that was covered with it. And I don’t have a small gaming table. But giant air ships fighting, it’s so good.
To me this is a fun and accessible area control game. Like I said, I can feel the influence of the area control that has come before. And now Aldarra takes it to the skies in a literally big way. I like area control, but I don’t always have a ton in my collection. Confrontation can be tough, but this one, because there’s no way to not be in everyone’s face like Small World, it feels a lot better.
Aldarra might be too light for some. Though, I think that more people are going to find it a good thing. So if you want a big game with big minis and an epic feel, this game might be the one for you.