But you all wouldn’t listen. You all thought I was over-exaggerating. You all thought I was being overdramatic. Well, you were all wrong. There will be no Scramble For Africa.
It’s coming to this, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s going to get worse because ‘reeing’ over stuff like this has become normalized. Saying it shouldn’t be made because it’s “insensitive” has become normalized. And when something like this becomes normalized, well, there are plenty of board games about fighting against communism either politically (Twilight Struggle) or militarily (take your wargame pick from WWII and on), or anything themed against Orwellian-like stuff like Euphoria.
Guess this all means board games utilizing the theme of colonialism are no longer ok. Unlike games out there where you can play fantasy characters who obliterate their enemies with swords, arrows, and magic; or space 4x games where you can obliterate ships and people and aliens by the thousands; or wargames where you can kill whoever from whatever side; or dungeon-crawlers where, you know. Quite frankly, I’m amazed at this point that Endeavor managed to get released without caving in to similar outcries (a game I’m glad to have in my collection).
Solid standards, with no ounce of hypocrisy or irony to be found. I’d argue more, but it’s already all been said. And what’s the point? Most of those who disagree won’t listen to reason anyway. Because feelings outweigh facts.
So a while back I mentioned I was working on a couple projects, that I would eventually get around to making a post on one of them. Well, it’s time.
Rating: 5 / 5
It is meant to be a complete fantasy world so full of variation that the players have real choices to make, so full of diversity that no matter how many times it is played it can still surprise you with its situations, and so filled with detail that the illusion of a complete world is created. All of this is derived from the annals and possibilities of adventure fantasy. — Richard Hamblen, The General, Vol. 16, Issue 4
I backed this game on kickstarter, and I believe I can say this could turn out to be my favorite kickstarter backed game next to The Lord of the Ice Garden (which also originates from Poland, along with the novel series which that game is based off of, which currently doesn’t have an English release, sons of bitches). There are expansions that are coming out for this, which last I checked are still being tested and developed, let alone not released yet. I have played the core set 10 times at all player counts (though have only done a 4 player game once), and can safely say the game plays well whether it’s with 2, 3, or 4 players (though it does play best with 4).
The first thing that attracted me to the game was the theme (which is the main thing I tend to go for in games now, as my collection is covered in the gameplay department at this point, for the most part). It’s not enough that this takes place in Ancient Greece, with the mythological heroes, gods, and monsters present; they had to make it sci-fi too. Which I think is awesome, and something to consider next time they release a Cthulhu-based game by making Cthulhu turn his tentacles on his face into missiles that shoot out and blow shit up (or something like that). Certainly makes it more unique, as I don’t think I’ve seen this done before. Not only is Hercules (or Heracles, as this game likes to spell it) still strong and buff, but he’s also enhanced with cyberpunk technology, enhancing his strength.
The second thing that interested me, and this is what sold me on it (as it should any serious gamer) is the gameplay. Having multiple paths to victory, and none of them involving accumulation of victory points. Because let’s face it, games that allow for winning a competitive game in a manner that doesn’t involve victory points doesn’t happen often enough; same thing with games that have multiple ways to end the game. In this game, you can win by traditional area control (control 2-3 lands), by gaining control of specific regions (control 5 temples), by killing 3 mythological beasts (kill 3 monsters), or by controlling a region with a fully-built monument. Not to mention you get a choice of 4 unique characters, with unique starting conditions and unique abilities.
It reminded me of Runewars, which plenty of users on boardgamegeek.com have mentioned. It’s similar in that controlling regions can net you certain resources to help you win (in this case, controlling temples can get you priests which can upgrade your hero, and in essence your army), but the main similarity comes with the heroes. In both LoH and RW, heroes are sent to go on quests, and gain artifacts/treasures that give the hero and/or army special advantages. However, heroes play a more prominent role in LoH compared to RW. In RW, it’s perfectly playable if heroes are removed. In this game, heroes are mandatory. They’re needed to allow hoplites to moves around faster, so it becomes easier to gain control of regions, and to reorganize to defend your borders against other player’s hoplites. In RW, your army operates optimally regardless of what the hero does (though the hero does allow for a minor impact in combat in that game, plus some items they gain can help you win, but it’s very downplayed in that game compared to this).
However, upgrading your hero’s leadership to allow more hoplites to move isn’t the only option. It’s not always that easy. There are 2 other stats to upgrade on your hero, strength and speed. So sure, you can focus more on hoplite area control and focus primarily on upgrading leadership (you can move 1 hoplite per leadership point your hero has). But then you could upgrade your hero’s speed so he can move around further, and thus get to quests and monsters faster, or in the case of Athena and Achilles, move to a strategic position to prepare for or dissuade combat from happening in a region. Or you could upgrade your strength so you can draw more combat cards when facing monsters. What you may want to upgrade depends on the hero you choose, and the current state of the map (and how the other players are threatening to win).
The other decision-making point comes in where you wish to start off on the map. At the start of the game, you place your hero along with 2 hoplites in one region. From what I’ve seen, it’s best to start in a region that you can immediately gain control of, as in a region that only requires 2 hoplites for initial control. There are choices of whether you want to start in a region where a temple can be built, or a region that has a city. If you start off in a region (and control it) where a temple can be built, you can build a temple early on to get a priest who can be sent off to a monument to pray and upgrade one of your hero’s stats. On the other hand, if you start in a city, it becomes easy early on to gain hoplites (especially if you get control of a second city on your first turn, and then use the Recruit special action on the next turn to recruit multiple hoplites in each of those cities). Both are good options, and your threat level for winning will increase either way. And, once again, it depends on the initial state of the board and your hero when determining what the best path to take is. And it will take multiple plays to figure that out. ‘Cause, you know, replay value is a nice trait for a board game to have.
I had a few concerns with this game prior to playing it. The monster combat. Now, one of the other things that attracted me to this game was card-driven combat. No dice. There is only 1 die in the game, and it’s only used for monster movement or attack (or doing nothing), which I’m fine with. However, I worried that battling monsters could get too easy. Each monster has a sheet with wound slots on it. Each monster varies, some having only 5 wounds, others have as many as 8 (sometimes more if they get upgraded due to an event). Each combat card you have (save for 2 types, one of which is a wild card) has a symbol on it, indicating what type of wound it can deal to the monster. Each monster takes different types of wounds. So you can get involved in a hunt by prepping ahead of time by building up your combat hand until you have combat cards of the right type (each card representing a weapon; heroes have to go through a lot of weapons to take these beasts out), or go in without the right cards but hoping you’ll draw the right ones. But you’re limited to a hand size of 4, unless you get a blessing that increases it (more on that later). At the start of a hunt, you draw cards into your hand equal to your hero’s strength (that’s why that attribute matters), going over your hand limit, which is legal during a hunt. So the more strength your hero has, the more likely you’ll draw cards of the right type to discard against the monster and kill it before it has a chance to counter-attack.
From my experience, monster hunts actually work better than I anticipated. Assuming you do wind up with the max strength of 5 and draw that many cards into your hand, and holding 9 cards in total, even then, there’s a chance you might not win the battle. First, there’s no guarantee that you have all the cards needed to deal all the wounds. Second, while most monster attack cards tend to be 3-5 strength, indicating you must either discard a number of combat cards which strength number adds up to that amount or greater to block the attack (which results in you adding 2 more cards into your hand, giving you extra incentive to block), there are a few curve-ball cards in that deck to make sure victory isn’t guaranteed. For example, there’s a card who’s strength is greater the more cards you have in your hand, or one that is stronger when there’s less wounds on the monster, or stronger when there’s more wounds on the monster. That being said, more often than not, a hero with a strength of 5 who has the right type of cards in hand initially prior to the hunt is usually going to win.
On the other hand, it’s also possible for someone who doesn’t have max strength, or even a max hand size, or holds cards of the right type(s), to still defeat a monster when starting a hunt against it. At that point, it becomes a push-your-luck battle. Sometimes a player may want to defeat the monster, in which case he must consider which cards to discard for dealing wounds, and which cards to hold onto so that he can brace for the monster’s counter-attack. Battles can be prolonged by successfully blocking attacks with 1 or 2 cards, which allows the player to add 2 more combat cards to his hand for the next round, thus making for an interesting back-and-forth feel. Alternatively, a player may just start a battle just to deal specific wounds which could allow him/her to gain a priest or artifact (each monster has at least 1 wound slot of that type), thus providing another reason to fight a monster outside of just defeating it (though another reason for defeating it could be so the monster stops messing up their army by killing of their hoplites, that can get annoying). And then there’s the 3rd reason to fight a monster, though this isn’t something used often (most games I’ve been in went by without anyone doing this): starting a hunt just to draw combat cards in preparation for a battle against other hoplites, and having no intention of using any cards to wound the monster. Sure, this results in the hero taking a wound (which happens at least once when a hero fails at a hunt), but it is worth it if it helps out the hero’s army. Let alone going after a monster so that another player trying to win by monster kills has one less monster to kill, assuming you wipe out the monster. Because if you fail to kill a monster and deal plenty of wounds to it, those wounds stay, making it an easier target for every other player/hero in the game. Plenty of reasons to engage a monster, and plenty of tough decision-making to go along with it.
There are ways to slow a hero down when it comes to accumulating strength. Each monument only has 2 slots to place a priest. Once 2 priests are on a monument, no more can be placed there until things basically “reset” via the Build Monument special action. So having other players dogpile on the monument can prevent a potential monster hunter from gaining the strength necessary to make hunting monsters an assured way of winning the game (yet another reason why I recommend playing with 4 players, greater chances of blocking off priests at certain monuments). But that’s not the only way to slow a hero down. You can also intentionally start combat against their armies, forcing them to play combat cards they may have wanted held for hunting monsters and using them to help their armies win instead (a great game design example of having cards with multiple uses). After all, controlling lands/temples is an alternate way to win, and you can’t just let a player run away with victory via land control anymore than you should allow someone to run away with a monster kill victory. And lastly, there’s the Zeus monument artifact, which can be used to wound a hero who is in the lead. Thus the early-mid-game is a very important part of the whole thing. How you start out, and how you choose to slow the others down while attempting to get ahead of them, is all part of the game. Thus you shouldn’t allow a player to get their hero upgraded too far too fast (easier to do in a 4 player game).
Regarding the monument control victory, this one doesn’t happen very often, and it especially doesn’t happen if all players know what they (and their opponents) are doing. It mainly exists if all players are at a stand-off, unable to gain victory via monster kills, and very good at preventing the taking of certain territories. Thus getting a monument built triggers a sort of end-game timer, where whoever controls the monument at the end of a certain number of rounds wins the game. One way in which this can become problematic, indicating a broken system, is with the Glory tokens, which can be gained by killing a monster or completing a quest (thus you gain the glory token that matches the color of the regions you completed the quest or killed the monster). When a hero has a glory token, they can do the Usurp special action to immediately take control of a region, and recruit a hoplite in that region, and force any enemy hoplites there to retreat to an adjacent region. If the player who built the monument has the glory token for the land the built monument is in, then victory seems assured assuming no other victory condition is met up ’till then.
However, as I’ve learned from experience, one shouldn’t attempt to rush towards the monument victory. Because this causes more and more events to get drawn, and thus allows for more quests and monsters to appear, which provides opportunity for a quest/monster to appear in the region with the built monument, which provides opportunity for another hero to complete the quest or kill the monster, and thus steal the glory token from the player who had it. And that’s assuming you don’t cause more monsters to appear for someone attempting to win via monster kills. And the more often you do the build monument action, the more opportunities you give other players to upgrade their heroes and do the same special action multiple consecutive times. On top of that, the monument build action can be utilized by other players for the purpose of drawing more monsters/quests and adding them to the map to gain glory, or just to move a monster into the land with the monument, kill it there, take the glory token from the player, and use his own strategy against him. Thus the monument victory doesn’t seem broken either, considering the dangers of rushing it, and the risk factor of usurp. It’s more of a long-term plan, just in case all else fails.
As for the other 2 conditions, controlling 2 lands or 5 temples, those victory conditions can be pulled off suddenly and surprisingly with well-executed maneuvers. You have to keep an eye on players who control 1 entire land and a couple regions in some other land, and keep an eye on players who control 3 temples (and when there’s at least 5 temples built; you built temples to get priests so they can be sent to monuments to upgrade your hero in case you’re wondering). Because if you overlook that, then they can use a combination of normal hoplite movement and a march action to take the regions needed to win the game. While these victories can be the most surprising, they are also the ones players can most often see coming if they’re paying attention.
I’ve noticed that the easiest way to win via controlling 2 lands is in the lower lands, the green and brown lands, both of which are adjacent to each other. The reason this allows for an easy victory is two-fold.
1.) The city of Sparta, where 4 hoplites can be recruited there at a time rather than the regular 2. Thus your army can be built up faster if you control the region with that city.
2.) The brown land only has 3 regions, while all other lands have 4 regions, thus requiring more territory to take in order to control the entire land.
So one shouldn’t allow Sparta to be taken too easily, else they risk the player controlling it to build up forces quickly and start flooding the lower regions with troops. However, this can be mitigated, as invading from the blue and yellow regions can allow for territory takeover. It also helps that each player has a limit of 15 hoplites, so you won’t have an insane amount of hoplites on the board to flood territories, which helps out against whoever winds up controlling Sparta (assuming they don’t lose it via Usurp, or a regular battle). That’s why region control markers are necessary, so you can maintain control even when you have no hoplites in the region (heroes can’t control regions). However, if you leave a region vulnerable like that, all it takes is for 1 hoplite to move in there to steal the region, or have an opponent’s hero move into there to do the Prepare special action and recruit a couple hoplites into the region to steal control that way. And on top of all that, even with the high number of troops, if they keep fighting multiple battles, sooner or later, that player will start to get drained of combat cards.
Despite the fact that this game was still in-development and being play-tested during the kickstarter campaign (and I believe briefly after the campaign ended too), it has turned out remarkably well. The game developers responsible for this game (Marcin Swierkot, Adam Kwapinski) seem to know what they’re doing. This game isn’t just good looks, there’s some real depth to it. How deep it goes, I’m not sure. But what I do know is that the base game is this good, and there are expansions on the way, which will definitely increase the replay value. Each time I think there’s a way to break the game, I discover some strategy/tactic that proves me wrong. And while it does play best with 4, with 2 and 3 players, it still seems surprisingly balanced, even if I question the land change-up for control with 3 players (the blue land doesn’t matter for land control victory; I still wonder why they don’t just make brown the irrelevant region, but it still seems to work fine regardless; but I still need to get more plays to determine the strength of the Sparta city strategy). But most importantly of all, I find the game to be quite fun.
Highly recommended game.
PS: If you’re wondering why there isn’t a monument for Ares, the god of war, I honestly don’t think that’s necessary. Here’s why: war is already being fought all across the game. So Ares is already being entertained by all this, just sitting back, relaxing, and chowing down on his popcorn that’s been dipped in blood and wine (rather than caramel, because he’s too good for cracker jacks) and cooled in his cyberpunk refrigerator, and enjoying the whole show.
Prior backing this game on Kickstarter nearly a year ago, my impression was that this game had artwork that was better than it, or any board game for that matter, deserved. This isn’t artwork that belongs on playing cards, this is artwork that belongs on posters to hang up on walls, framed, and meant to be gazed at in wonder and fascination; probably even better if you’re doing so while puffing the magic dragon or munching the eddies. The artwork is nothing short of amazing.
That being said, like most games, you tend to forget about how good it looks and look past that to focus on the gameplay. And to make the gameplay better, the component quality needs to be good, with easy to learn/understand icons, pieces that are easy to handle and move around without accidentally knocking something out of its place, etc. In all honesty, I have yet to play a deep fantasy board game that wasn’t fiddly to some extent, and this one is no exception, even more-so if you’re playing with more than 1 player/hero. That being said, it is less fiddly than Mage Knight and Magic Realm (good Lord, what isn’t less fiddly than Magic Realm?). It plays fine without too much fiddliness, assuming you have the room for it.
Cards are of decent quality, though when I started sleeving them in clear Dragon Shields (I usually never play one of my own games unless I have sleeved everything first, you know, for preservation), I did notice it ever so slightly chipped away at a small bit of the lower corner of the cards. Not all of them, but some of them. Other than that, the card quality is fine. Sturdy enough and thick enough to be considered standard.
So aside from the cards, there’s also Zelda hearts for health, black corrupted devil hearts for action points, clouds for obstacles, trees for hiding, sand timers for fate (what, no fate cards from Atmosfear?), Mario coins for gold, and solid sturdy chits for loot and marking enemies.
So this is where games either excel or fall apart, or somewhere in-between. In the case of this game, it’s in-between. You start out as a hero who seems too weak to beat the game as is. But once you complete the first part of you Saga (a 5 part story that you choose at the start of the game), and you level up, that’s when things start to get rolling. Basically the number of actions you can take is equal to your health at the start of the day. You start with 4 health at the start of the game, so you can take 4 actions. When you level up, you get another health, and thus another action point, allowing you to not only do more stuff each day, but also take more damage in combat.
In order to level up you need to acquire cards of certain types, whether they be Quests, Titles, Places, Spells, Strangers, Villains, etc., they are all represented by cards. You can only acquire these cards by traveling around and having encounters in various locations, hoping that the card you draw will be the type you want. And then you have to go about getting the card in the same way you do anything in the game that involves acquiring cards, rolling dice.
You see, when you move to a location where one of these cards is at, or if you move to a location with no encounter and one shows up when you move there, they each have a stat to roll against on the left side of the card. Depending on the card type, you can go for a Fight, Study, Sneak, or Influence test. For each test, you roll a number of dice equal to how much of those values you have (ex: if you have 3 Study, you get to roll 3 dice for Study tests), and get a success on a 5-6. Aside from Fight tests which pretty much mean you’ve entered in combat against a stranger or enemy, the other tests you can try multiple times over the course of a single in-game day until you get enough successes to get the card, or fail to get enough by the end of the day in which case all your successes go away and you have to try again the next day, starting from square one (or rectangle one in this case, you know, card shapes).
And once you get one of these cards, you can do two things with it (aside from getting either gold or loot): either keep the card in your hand as a Rumor for completing Sagas, or exchange the card for an Item, Title, Spell, or Ally (this depends on the card type you exchange; for example only Places can be exchanged for Titles). It depends on what you need the card for. But of course, it’s not that easy. Once you get a hold of a Item/Title/Spell/Ally via rumor-trade, you still have to visit the location depicted on the card in order to get the ITSA. Because it’s just a rumor you heard at the place you visited, from the individual/monster you killed, from the side Quest you went on, etc (thematically-speaking). On the one hand, Items, Titles, Spells, and Allies can give you ability/power boosts to make your life easier. But on the other hand, you can’t fight the final boss without completing your saga, which requires sacrificing these cards to progress on the saga and level up. Personally, from my experience, it’s better to level up ASAP, for at least the first 2 levels, so you can get stuff done faster. After that, it depends on the situation.
So pretty soon it falls into the same pattern. Move to a location, hope you get the card of the right type, hope you have good enough stats to beat it, otherwise move along and try for something better. Once something shows up, keep rolling dice until you succeed. Once you succeed, rinse and repeat until you get enough cards to get what you want/need, level up, do it all over again until the big bad Ancient One from Arkham Horror, I mean Eldritch Horror, I mean Lovecraft Gloom of Killing Forth demons from hell show up that you need to off by cutting it’s head off with a sword, or blowing it away with a spell (if you’re a good enough Arcane aficionado). And how do you do that? You guessed it, the same way you do in Arkham Horror, rolling a bunch of dice and hoping you get enough successes over the course of a few rounds (or maybe you’ll get lucky and only have to do it for 1 or 2 rounds) to take it out.
And you have to level up fast enough to chuck the maximum amount of dice per combat round before the game ends. And at the end of each day, things slowly get worse, with 1 of the 25 locations you can travel around falling into gloom, threatening to suck a little bit of life out of you if you spend the night there. And with each life you lose, you lose an action point. For each life you get back, you don’t get that action point back until the start of the next day. So the game does plenty to slow down your progress to prevent you from leveling up fast enough so that the game doesn’t become a cakewalk.
And that’s pretty much how the game goes. There are different ways to play it, either solo/co-op with multiple heroes, or competitively against others to see who the first hero to take out the baddie is.
This was the one factor I had my doubts on when backing the game, the dice-chucking. But I was willing to give it a shot (and my money) because it looked like there may be enough theme and immersion to where I could overlook most of that. Plus I kind of had to admire how much time and effort Tristan “ninja dorg (because that’s a cool way of saying dog)” Hall put into this thing. Truly worthy of attention on Kickstarter, unlike those other board game companies who would probably do just fine without it, but still use Kickstarter to fund their board game projects anyway.
In all honesty, there is a good amount of theme to it, enough variability to make each game experience different. But the tactical depth is lacking by my standards. A bit too much luck for my tastes. Getting a hold of some ITSAs can be fun, the feeling you get when your character levels up and can do more is great. And the card draws, while luck-dependent, seem balanced enough to where you’ll eventually find what you want (though I’ve only done 1 playthrough so far). But the dice-chucking, man, especially for the boss battle. It’s basically the same reason why I did away with Arkham Horror years ago. All that exploration, adventuring, analyzing the best routes to take and the best course of action to do each turn/round/day. All for it to lead to a nearly mindless dice battle. Sure there are different bosses to choose from, and they hit you in different way, but it all devolves into the same thing at the end of the day.
I guess you could say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. But the thing is, if the destination wasn’t all that great, why would you want to go see it again? Especially when there’s other games in the same genre to fall back on?
Don’t get me wrong, I do intend to play this a couple more times, and with other players, before I decide if I’m going to trade this off or not. Game could be more interesting with player interaction. In fact, that’s what I’m counting on. The whole game boils down to being a race against time, and mitigating luck and planning well enough that you get to the finish line before it all ends. Throw in other players, then it becomes trying to get to the finish line before they do, which can encourage heavier thinking and more optimal planning. Co-op could be interesting (I would only do that solo, but that’s just me), with the way the rules force players to work together, requiring everyone to participate in completing each other’s sagas. But as it is now, too luck-based for long-term enjoyment.
But keep in mind, I’m a very picky gamer. I prefer my games to be light on luck, or entirely absent of it. Or if there is luck, that there be extreme strategic decision making to go with it, or a heavy amount of immersion. The game doesn’t have quite enough immersion or strategy to be a keeper. But it is worth trying out.
This isn’t fair, but neither is life or the outcome of dice. How does it compare to Magic Realm and Mage Knight?
All 3 games are not dungeon crawlers. You travel along landscapes in each of them. It has a Mage Knight feel in that you get stronger the more you do, to where enemies that were difficult before get easier to beat. But Mage Knight has far less luck, and is absent of dice, and has the same working against the clock and optimizing your turns routine, but with deck-building. But in all fairness to Gloom of Kilforth, it handles taking damage and how much that slows you down, and how much time you have to take to recover from it better than Mage Knight. You feel each and every wound you take in Gloom of Kilforth, while in Mage Knight you can tend to shrug them off unless you take a lot of them. It makes you feel more, well, human, more vulnerable. And that’s a good thing, because the last thing you want to feel in a game where the world is at stake is invincible. But on the other hand, Mage Knight is much more tactical with the combat system, giving you much more control and decision-making.
With Magic Realm, well Gloom of Kilforth is much easier to learn than that game, so that’s a big pro. But despite it’s complexity, Magic Realm stays very abstract with the theme. Sure there’s monsters and treasures and stuff, but they are absent of flavor text. That game is absent of a set fictional world that has a backstory. It leaves it up to the imagination. It leaves much of what you do up to the imagination, which ultimately encourages the immersive feel, getting you to think about what is happening and what is going on, rather than trying to show you. Each character in Magic Realm is far more distinct than the characters in Gloom of Kilforth. Not just in their starting stats, but in their starting abilities. In Gloom, it’s more about your starting stats, encouraging you to focus more on fights, influencing, sneaking, etc. Wherever you have the most numbers and can throw the most dice, that’s optimally what you’ll go for. It’s obvious in it’s approach. In Magic Realm it’s much more subtle, demanding many playthroughs before you can even see what strategies to use for just 1 character.
Pros and cons, Gloom of Kilforth is more accessible than either of those 2 games, but in being more accessible it has less depth. Depending on your group, you may not want depth, you may not want to play something that will take 4+ hours. You may want something like Gloom of Kilforth, which provides the fantasy experience at that level. And that’s the niche the game fits in, a medium level game, as opposed to heavy like Mage Knight, and as opposed to driving university professors mad with Magic Realm.
If there’s one thing I appreciate about this game, it’s that it’s not a dungeon crawler. I’m not a big fan of that genre, at least when it comes to the fantasy genre.
So, there’s my thoughts. Take them as you would with any review, with a grain of salt.
PS: Oh yeah, one other thing. It’s extremely refreshing to see a game that uses cardboard standees rather than 3d plastic sculpts.
So I played the game a few more times, once with another player in Competitive mode, too see if the game improves or worsens. Unfortunately, it’s the latter, but there are some nice things I found within the game upon repeated plays.
First it should be mentioned that this game should’ve come with a guide showing the statistics of what is in each region type. It helps with the theme and allows players to formulate strategies.
So this basically means the Badlands is where one would go in hopes of finding Quests, Forests for finding Places, Mountains for finding Enemies, and Plains for finding Strangers. It’s the most optimal, but the other region types also tend to have a decent number of other encounter types. As I pointed out earlier, “the card draws, while luck-dependent, seem balanced enough to where you’ll eventually find what you want”. It’s not quite THAT luck dependent, as keith hunt pointed out (see comments below). The first 2 or 3 Saga chapters just require places, strangers, enemies, quests, titles, spells, items, and/or allies. However, once you get to Saga Chapter 4, it gets a little more tricky. For instance, some cards require a specific keyword like Arcane, Shadow, Villain, Assist, etc. Those cards are more difficult to track down. However, during the course of the game, from what I’ve played, there’s usually enough instances of cards with those keywords showing up that it’s never unfair. I could be wrong, it may be possible that you could enter into a scenario where every encounter/title/spell/ally/item doesn’t have any of those keywords, but it’s never happened with my playthroughs, so it’s unlikely that will happen.
With competitive play against other players, the only real thing that changes is trying to get encounter cards before others do, though it may not matter that much if other players aren’t interested in some cards that are out there while the others are interested. Plus the map is big enough for players to explore and find what they need. Once you get 3 or more players, those special “keyword” requirements are less of a factor in regards to completing Sagas, because of the number of players and because the competition for getting more cards can become fierce (but it never seemed that fierce to me; then again I’ve only done 2 players tops).
In all honesty, the game seems better as a solo game. It plays shorter, and the playtime increases a pretty good amount with each added player. For a single-player game, if the player knows what he/she is doing, the game tends to run at about the time the box says, 45 minutes, maybe an hour depending. Each player does pretty much add on another 50-60 minutes to the game. And a game like this shouldn’t run more than 2 hours. Just my opinion.
In all the 3 times I’ve played the game, I’ve won 2 of them, including my first playthrough. It’s all really dependent on the type of race and class you choose at the start of the game, but the main difference is how often you play as someone who wants to Fight enemies straight up vs. someone who has more emphasis in study/sneak/influence. Fighting is more dangerous, especially early on in the game. If you lose a battle, you lose your gold and a rumor/asset. This sets you back considerably, and can make things hopeless. This is why I recommend the Advanced Variant for Saga completion, where instead of just spending 5 gold per chapter completion, you spend 2 gold multiplied by the chapter number. It makes the game flow better, and fits thematically for the world becoming more challenging to accompany your increasing strength. I’ve beaten the game using the normal and advanced versions of saga completion. There are ways to increase the difficulty, as provided in the files section of BGG by Tristan himself. But as of now, I don’t feel the need to.
I don’t consider the overall game to be fun enough to be worth going into Challenge mode for (or Ancient/Bloodbath mode, as it’s called). Mainly because despite the nice streamlined gameplay, despite the nice artwork, despite what immersion there is and thematic connections between the cards and race abilities and other things, the game is a glorified dice-chuck-fest. If that is your thing, by all means, go for it, it’s one of the better dice-chuck-fests out there. But for others who want more decision-making when it comes to battles, there’s other adventure board games out there that provide that. For everyone else who wants something accessible and dice-heavy, there’s this game.
Introduction (ie addressing some criticisms of the game)
So there are 2 versions of this game. One is the version which has anime chicks in scantily clad outfits doing some implied and ridiculous sexual gesture. The other version is a more historical version with black and white WWII photos. Regarding the latter, where’s the fun in that?
First of all, I own the anime-chick version, not the historical photograph edition. Some would ask why I would buy such a game. I bought it for a simple reason, spite. I despise all you easily offended politically correct gamers with all of my little black perverted heart. Some of which state that no one should play this game because it is vile, perverted, sexist (sexploitation), pro-lolita, pro-nazi, and glorifies horrible people in a horrible war. That revisiting/addressing WWII should be done in a serious/professional matter, and in no other way. And there’s also arguments along the lines of keeping your sexual fetishes in private. Subject matter like this should not be perverted.
“It amazes me that people who fancy a certain fetish can seriously be upset by the aversion displayed by people who don’t share this fetish.” — Simon Mueller
I’m starting to think that political correctness is also a fetish.
You know, stuff like that. It’s less controversial to have a game with images of individuals getting their brains/organs blown out by knives/gunfire/bombs/zombies, but more controversial when there’s any amount of skin shown in any fashion, perverted or otherwise. That’s how it works here in America. Doesn’t help that the girls in this game are under-age.
Some of you may remember in an earlier blog post how I was outraged at the alteration of card art for a game I backed on kickstarter.
Outraged because I was under the impression that the art was changed due to Tristan Hall (the creator of Gloom of Kilforth) caving into the demands of a petty few who took issue with the original artwork. Turns out I was too hasty with my opinion. Tristan has given an update (yes, I’m very late with this, but what can I say, I’m a procrastinator):
So, background. Gloom of Kilforth is a fantasy sword & sorcery setting board game designed by Tristan Hall, a project that was successfully funded on September 27, 2015. The gameplay mechanics and art style interested me greatly, and there aren’t enough board games in that genre that manage to do both (the best fantasy board game I’ve currently played is Magic Realm, made all the way back in 1979). The main thing that won me over into backing that game is the passion the creator has for it. 8 years this has been developed, tested, modified, updated, tweaked, and improved during all that time. No way is someone that passionate over a game that is destined to be weak sauce. The final thing that brought me on board was the fact that this is a kickstarter exclusive game. It won’t be funded any other way, and won’t be brought onto store shelves. It’s a labor of love from beginning to end, with plenty of positive reviews along the way. It gained my admiration and my pledge.
Over a year later, Tristan made an update, stating that the files were sent to the presses, to see if they could begin printing the cards, rulebook, box, etc. But then game one word in one section of the update that took me completely by surprise.