Can you lead the robots in this cooperative game as they try and take back control of their programming from their human overlords? Pros Established game company Cooperative play Theme Component Quality Cons Price Game Play The Page Chip Theory Games are definitely a well …
Tag: Cooperative Game
Can you escape from the lands of Atlantis as the waters rise in this cooperative board game from Elf Creek Games. Pros Known game Great production quality Existing KS Board Game Company Cooperative Price/Shipping Cons Base game has been available not via Kickstarter The Page …
As a “good” board gamer, I get excited about new games all the time, there are always new games that come out and while I’m excited about them, I generally don’t write about them, unless it’s a Kickstarter Back or Brick article, or maybe something gets mentioned in Point or Order. The ones that I can think of that I’ve written about before they came out have been Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and Frosthaven, two games based off of or similar to games in my Top 10 games of all time, Pandemic Legacy Season 1 and Gloomhaven, so that made sense that I’d be really excited for them. Descent: Legends of the Dark is different. I haven’t played Descent 2nd Edition, though I did get it so I could paint the minis and play eventually, and I don’t have a strong connection to the game, so why am I writing about this one?
There are a number of things really that got me interested, the IP is interesting in that Fantasy Flight is making a non-Marvel/Star Wars/Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings game, and making one that is based off of their own properties that isn’t Arkham Horror. That is fairly rare for them, so to have them go back into the world of Terrinoth, super fantasy name activate, was a lot of fun and interesting to see that they are keeping up some of their own lines. The app integration was also interesting as well as the game play and the cooperative nature. In Descent 2nd Edition, that game was a one versus all game. One person played as the “overlord” who ran all of the bad guys in the scenarios against the players. This is fully cooperative because of the app, and while Descent 2nd Edition had an app that gave it a cooperative campaign, that was not how it had been built to play.
So why am I talking about this now, well, because of these two things.
Fantasy Flight had a big kind of trailer kickoff and announcement for the game. So there is now a whole lot more known about the game, in fact, there is a ton more known about the game. If you are interested in knowing a whole lot more, watch the second video, if you want to read my recap and have a trailer, watch the first video and then read my recap, it won’t cover everything, but I am going to talk about some highlights.
First off, highlight wise, this is an app assisted game along the lines of Mansions of Madness or Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth. Fantasy Flight has been doing app assisted games for quite a while, and for some people that has been a turnoff, they want to get away from technology while playing board games, which I can understand, but I don’t mind an app assist when playing a game, as long as I’m not doing everything on the app, and I don’t feel like I have been with Journeys in Middle Earth or Mansions of Madness. But there’s even more with this app, and I’m going to get into some details, but first, I do want to say that this app was built from the ground up for this game, in previous games they have leveraged their old app design and framework in order to make it faster to market, and that has some limits built in, such as it being really hard to have an undo button if you clicked the wrong thing, this has an undo button. This is also important because that means that this is going to have a different feel and probably a more modern feel to the app.
But let’s talk about features in the game, because that’s what people are going to care about more, than me nerding out over an undo button or the fact that they have built a new framework. There are a lot of cool things they talked about with the app, and I’m just going to highlight a few of them, the first because of how the app is built and because it’s their own IP, they are able to have really big branching storyline changes in it. They’ve done that to some extent in something like Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, but obviously you source material to that requires the world be left in a certain state, in this, it’s their world, they can do a lot. Next were two things about the bad guys in the game. That was tactics and weaknesses. Weaknesses are what they sound like, something that a bad guy is weak to, a bandit might be weak to slashing damage, but as players, you get to find that out in the game. As you try different weapons, it might tell you something like “You swing with your sword, and it did more damage than you thought it would as it slashes through the bandit.” Now you know swords are good, so next time you see a bandit you’d want to remember to use a sword, and the game keeps track of that you know it for you, so you don’t have to remember because forgetting and discovering the game thing over again wouldn’t be as fun. With tactics, certain bad guys are going to be apt to do certain things that are foreshadowed. For example, again, at the end of a round a bandit might be eyeing a chest, that the game narrates, you don’t know what is going to happen the first time, but after you see them grab a chest from the map and run away, you’ll know that you will want to stop a bandit from doing that again, basically, you have a round to kill them. Another thing that the app helps handle is downtime. Now with this I don’t mean downtime in the set-up or between turns, I’m talking about between missions, what your heroes are doing. A character might decide to do a side quest and they can pick between two, one might give you valor and one might give you honor. You have to decide which one to do, and the game will remember and make decisions about how people react based off of what you’ve done before. And there are more examples of the game remembering or knowing who you are, one person might get a different reaction and conversation based off of their character type and who they are than someone else would. Or the game might know that you are a big fan of using your war hammer in combat or opening chests, and it can tailor challenges and rewards to your style of play.
That’s a lot on the app, so let’s talk about some other things, like the heroes, the bad guys, and the terrain (some might still tie back tot he app).
Let’s actually start with the terrain and the components. The minis themselves are a harder plastic than Fantasy Flight has used before, though the ones in the video are resin, the reason for that is that they are still very strong, but because it’s harder plastic, they are able to get more detail in, and the detail on the minis looks really good in the resin prints. Resin is going to be closer to a hard plastic in the detail that you can get. But enough weird nerding out about that, because the terrain is awesome as well. The terrain is not only just flat map tiles and maybe some tokens to represent objects, it is cardboard 3D terrain where you build up your maps and put items on them. So a map could have multiple levels and some abilities might move bad guys, so you can maybe push them off the edges of things, which seems important. But not only can you interact with the height, you can interact with the objects, if there are trees, you can climb a tree, a well, you can hid inside it, that sort of thing. And how one character can interact with a thing might be different than another character. The reason I added in the app caveat is that this would be really hard to do without the app, so the app keeps track of who is doing that action.
Next we have the monsters, I don’t have a ton to say about them, except that there are 11 different types of monsters. But really, there are more than that, there are 11 different types of monster minis. Because they introduce a concept of factions. If a group of bandits are off by themselves, they are just bandits. If they are working with the Uthuk, the evil magic users or those corrupted by evil, they would be Uthuk bandits and behave differently.
But finally, let’s talk about characters, because really, a game like this is all about playing the heroes and how you play them. Descent: Legends of the Dark, has both cards and dice used in the game, so it’s kind of a hybrid between a few different games, but dice chucking is mainly going to be where it is at for combat and for taking actions. But you’ll use the cards, and their fatigue in an interesting way. A lot of things causes fatigue which is bad, in Descent 1st Edition, there were just turns of resting and doing nothing because you were fatigued in order to be able to do something again. In this, they’ve changed that up. You place fatigue on your character or your card, if that card hits it’s limit, you have a choice, you could leave it there, or you can flip it. Flip it gives you a different ability and you can use that one and start to put fatigue on that side since the fatigue clears off on a flip. It creates an interesting puzzle of a character. They have also made it so that you change up your character very easily. You have your unlocked skills and you have an XP budget, you can try whatever build you want with that XP budget, so a card might be 2 XP and another 1 XP and you have 3 XP so you take those two into battle with you, then the next one you decide to try three 1 XP cards, you can do that. Thematically, does it make sense, probably not, but game wise, it makes it a lot of fun, because you aren’t stuck playing a build you don’t like, in fact, if a character just isn’t your style period, you can swap in a new one, overall, an awesome idea to make sure the game is fun.
Now, in that hour and forty minute video, there is a whole lot more that they talk about, and they show off minis and things like that. If you want to know more, check it out, though, I cover some of the bigger highlights for me of things that are really interesting. But let’s also talk about the price tag here, before we wrap up, this is a $175 game, that is expensive. Now what you get is a lot, they were asked about game play and said probably 50 hours if not more in the base box. But compared to some other games, though with less minis, Gloomhaven you can find around $100 now and I probably have 200 hours into base Gloomhaven. So does that mean that this is too expensive, I’d say no. Gloomhaven doesn’t have an app built specifically for it, this does, and it is a brand new app, there was a ton of story work put into this game, and if you play through the whole game, that’s probably way more time than most people would put into a single game that costs $60. Plus there is the experience factor as well, I realize that the price will turn some people away because they just can’t afford it, and that’s a shame, if you have a group, make it a group buy if you can, but I get that it is a hefty price tag and why it is. It is still one that I’ll want to pick up, just for the cool factor if nothing else.
So, what do you think of Descent: Legends of the Dark? Does the game sound interesting to you? Does the price tag or app worry you?
We’re getting down to it, getting close to the Top 10 games, only a few more of these lists. It’s been a blast as always putting these out and I’m glad that people are enjoying them. I’d be very curious to know what your top 10 are, and what you think my Top 10 might contain.
Plus a few notes on how I’ve put together the list:
- These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100
- If a game you love isn’t on the list, it might be be coming, I might not have played it, and if I have, it’s 101
- If a game looks cool, I have links to buy it from CoolStuffInc or Amazon, or you can grab most at your FLGS
- There are a few games, Destiny 2 Player versus regular Destiny where if they are basically the same thing, I only do one of them
This is one that I think is going to climb higher and higher over time because of how simple but fun the game is. And I have to say, I really like the theme of brewing beer. This game is basically an engine builder where you are trying to be the best at brewing beer and to do that you need to brew, and hone your recipes so that you can place well at Summerfest and Oktoberfest. To do this you get cards that are ingredients which you can use for a one time affect, like if you need an influx of money, get one that gives you some money, or you can add the ingredients to a beer, so maybe every time I brew my porter now it has oyster in it which gives me $1 versus a one time cash thing of $5. You can create some fun and crazy combinations, and in all honesty, I’d probably try them. I also like that in this game each character as a special power, so you can decide how you want to play the game and can do something different than everyone else. This is a fast engine building game, and definitely one that can work as an introduction to engine building.
Last Year: 45
This is a game that I need to play more, but it is a big game, so it’s hard to get to the table all that often. In Zona, you are trying to get into the vault at the heart of Chernobyl, but to do that you need to brave the wasted lands surrounding it where few go and where mutated monsters roam. You can play this game solo, or you can play it competitively, which I think is really interesting. So you are exploring, finding what you need to get to get into lesser locations and then fight monsters, survive, and get into these locations, get out with some new very useful cards and get into the heart of Chernobyl before everything falls apart and the game wins. I find that interesting where the game has a timer where it can itself win, in a competitive game, so it is possible that all the players will lose.
Last Year: 34
28. Just One
Just One is the top party game on the list, and I think that it’ll hold that spot for a while. The game is just clever and enjoyable to play. In this game one person is “it” like in so many party games, and they, instead of trying to get people to guess a word are trying to guess a word. Everyone else is putting down clues for them, one word clues, hence Just One. And everyone needs to write down a unique clue. If people cross over with each other, those clues are cancelled out. Again, hence why this is called Just One. The game works really well and it is a lot of fun. I also like that like Cross Clues, Just One is a cooperative party game. Most party games are meant to be silly, but if you are out of the game part of the party game, it just becomes purely silly, and for a game night, I like party games that can keep people in the game itself, and Just One does a great job of that.
Last Year: 22
This game my record is probably 0-15, maybe 0-20 at this point, and it’s a cooperative game. This is not a game where you win 50% of time like a lot of cooperative games try to be, it is a game that is extremely hard to win, but clearly I still love it. In this game you are Samurai who are taking on villains. You are fighting honorably, so you know when the fight is going to happen, so you prepare. You do this by researching the villains, by increasing your stats and then eventually once you’ve used up all of your time, you select the villain who you are facing off against. The issue is that you need everyone to beat the villain they are facing off against, and you basically never have the time needed to completely research the villains or to get yourself completely prepared to fight. The concept just works really well for me, and the game play is very smooth. My only knock is that this game can play a lot of people, but it probably should max out at four or five, because otherwise it is a bit long.
Last Year: 43
I love this game as a different feeling card puzzle game. Like Parade, this game has been randomly given the theme of Alice in Wonderland. It could have been anything or nothing. In it you are trying to score the most points by having the best collection of hats. These hats have numbers, and you start out with a hand of them as well as some that are going to be determining what is scored on the table. The trick to this game, and I think what I like about it so much, is that you are trying to manipulate the table in such a way by playing down cards and then using the ones for scoring that you place in front of you, that when all is said and done the colors you have are scoring and they are scoring well and that whatever you opponent(s) were collecting doesn’t score well. It just feels like a twist as you have a set hand of cards and while you can change them up a little, it might not be enough to get it set-up as you want. This game plays fast and is a good thinky filler.
Last Year: 26
25. Point Salad
Another filler on the list up quite high. This must have just gotten played after I made the list last year, but Point Salad has been a game that has consistently gotten to the table and even 4-5 times in the past week. In this game you are building up the best salad possible to score as many points as possible. And that’s the joke, in a point salad style game, everything you do is going to give you some points, so AEG created a game where you are building up salads and everything might give you points. What determines if something gives you points though is based off of the scoring cards you draft. So this is an extremely simple game, you either take vegetables for your salad or you take a scoring card. But you have to pay attention to what is scoring for you and how. Maybe you have a card that gives you 4 points per tomato, but it probably also gives you -2 points per onion and carrot, so you need to build your salad right so that you scoring as many points as possible. The game is so simple and turns are fast, and while there is less depth than Hats, this is still a great filler with a bit of depth.
Last Year: Not Ranked
I love deck building games, and Aeon’s End: War Eternal is a very good one, in my opinion. And I would hazard to say, had I played more of the Aeon’s End games, I’d say all are great deck building games. Now, there are a ton of deck building games, so what makes this stand out. I like that you are facing off against a big boss, which isn’t unique, but you can start to whittle them down right away if you want, which isn’t always the norm. I like the breach system for casting spells. You can open up more breaches for your character and cast more spells per turn when you do that. And what really makes this different is that you don’t shuffle your deck. This is the only deck building game that I know of that you don’t shuffle. What happens when you run out of cards, well, you just flip your discard pile and you have your deck again. This means, if you are counting cards, you can set-up turns for yourself. You might want a turn with no spells just because with a lot of purchase power you can buy a better spell, or maybe you want a good mix so that you never have a turn where nothing happens. What also is interesting is that turn order isn’t set. The nemesis, monster you’re fighting, will have 2 turns for every six player turns. But you have a turn order deck that is shuffled, and in a two player game where are two player one cards, two player two cards and two nemesis cards. So the nemesis could go twice in a row at the start, then four player turns, you just don’t know. It makes the puzzle feel harder that way, but also can set-up some moments of calm.
Last Year: 16
23. Criss Cross
One of my top roll and write games. Criss Cross is very simple but so much fun. In this game everyone is playing at once, trying to place symbols rolled on dice adjacent to each other in rows and columns on a 5 x 5 grid. That doesn’t sound too bad, but you need to treat the two dice rolled each round as a domino, basically. That means if the symbols rolled are a circle and a triangle you need to place the circle and the triangle adjacent to each other on the grid. You need to also make sure that you don’t leave yourself with a single spot separated from everything else because it means you won’t be able to fill that spot. The game is super fast and very fun. Scores can and will vary wildly based off of how things are rolled, but it is fun crossing your fingers hoping that the write combo is rolled. I like that you are scoring both the rows and columns too, and in the expert version the diagonal, so you can’t just focus on rows or columns and expect it to go extremely well.
Last Year: 23
This game, why isn’t this game out yet. It was so amazing playing at GenCon last year that it is on my list because I got the full game experience there. It should, fingers crossed be coming out yet this year, I have a preorder in for it, and it might, just might, be coming out this month, October, still. Which would be perfect because this is a horror adjacent game. In this game you are spending time and moving around trying to get rid of your curses and be the first player to get out of the town. The issue is the town is keeping you trapped in as long as you are cursed and there are monsters roaming around. Plus, the other players, they don’t mind if you get attacked so they might be encouraging that. And they might be deranged and attacking you themselves. This game has nice card play for determining what actions you are doing and how good they are. And then if you’re deranged, you flip the card upside down and use a similar but different set of actions. The game is just clever and while not short, turns play pretty fast. So much fun in this game and has a good theme that I like.
Last Year: 17
Some games have a fair amount of alpha gaming in them if they are a cooperative game. That is to say that one person tells everyone what to do on their turn. The Lost Expedition is a game that has, built into it’s mechanics, ways to prevent that from happening. Players, without communicating, place down cards for both a daytime and evening hike as they work their way toward the lost city of Z, so no one knows what the other people are going to play. In the day, the cards are then sorted into numerical order and you’ll have to navigate them, and even the evening, they are played in whatever order they come out. And most of these cards don’t do good things. So no one can tell other people what to play, then collectively as a group, you decide how to spend resources and what actions to take, of the optional actions on a card. Sometimes it’ll be good like giving you more food or bullets, but most of the time you are hurting yourself as spending resources from your guides, from your food supply, or bullets, and if you run out of life on your guides you lose the game. The game is very clever and plays very fast. There’s always discussion around the table as you try and map out the best route of using and gaining resources and advancing closer to the Lost City of Z.
Last Year: 32
This is an odd section of the list because two of these games are still really high after mainly just playing them at GenCon last year. Deranged isn’t out yet in the US, I believe mainly because of Covid delays, but I had so much fun with it, I had to make the list when I have played it. I have it preordered, I’m just waiting for it to eventually come, I suspect that Deranged will end up moving higher the more I play it.
What is your favorite from this section of the list?
It’s that time of year again, and I’m going to talk a little bit about what I’m doing and when I’m going to try and consistently do it from here on out. We’re doing my Top 100 Board Games of ALL TIME! Now, this is …
We’re back for a special edition of Back or Brick as I look at the expansion for the superhero fighting cooperative game based off of the Brandon Sanderson series, The Reckoners.
- Amazing Theme
- Amazing Components
- Cooperative Game
- Can get Base Game as well as Expansion
This is a company that has run successful Kickstarters before, and you can tell that in this page. They have a really nice blurb at the top to kind of sell you on the idea of the game. They show you how it’s played in a video by Watch It Played and Rodney Smith, they have quotes and their BGG rating for the base game listed.
Then they do a good job of showing you what’s in the expansion and the new things that are added to the game. I think this is a pretty standard Kickstarter page, but that means that it sells the game well.
There are a couple of knocks I have on it, they again do most of their text in and on images. This isn’t accessible, and while they do a great job of keeping the font and text fairly large, it doesn’t scale perfectly for phones. I know it might not be graphic design 101 to not have text on images, but it’s web design 101, and this is on a website. The other thing is that while we have a video on how the base game is played, the information on rule additions or changes from the expansion aren’t laid out.
Let me start out by saying, I have the base game. So for that reason I’m interested in the expansion.
But I do like what the game does. I like the dice rolling to see what actions you can take and even if an action isn’t ideal you have things to do. I like that the actions are extremely thematic to the books. In them you have to research an epic and that’ll make it easier to defeat them. There’s just a lot of the theme that works for me.
From what I know of the base game, it is extremely challenging but generally a lot of fun. I haven’t played my copy yet. And this expansion helps dial that back a little bit by fixing a few of the extremely tough Epics (superheroes) in the game. Plus I like that the expansion is modular so you don’t need to use all of it if you don’t want.
Back or Brick
For me, when I heard about this a few days before the launch, I knew I was going to be very interested in it because of how much I love the book series and for that fact that this isn’t going to hit retail. Now, there will still be opportunities to get the expansion at conventions or directly from the company, but I wanted to get it this way if I could. So for me this is a Back. I think that the stuff it adds, from what I can tell, seems fun and adds more to the game but isn’t necessarily adding more complexity, in fact might make it easier. And I’m really excited for the new bosses to face because there are three in the series and just to deal with them.
How about for you, is this game a back or a brick for you?
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