It’s like a Board Game version of Munchkin, with a few twists.
You, as either a Journalist, Captain, Heiress or Proprietor, are travelling in a jungle on a quest to uncover and beat Ancient, Terrible Things. These things can be man made or natural or supernatural.
*Nods* sounds good! It’s not roll to move, so I’m intrigued!
Similar to other strategy games like the GOT Risk and Dead of Winter, you’ve got character decks with attributes unique to your character. Each turn you must travel (instantly!) to a location and battle whatever Ancient, Terrible Thing is there. To do this, you have to either roll the prescribed number on the dice, use ‘Swag’ cards (Tools etc.) and Feat cards (extra potential actions) to aid you in battle, along with tokens for re-rolling.
If you beat the Ancient, Terrible Thing then you get points and clear an extra notch from the Jungle Trail.
I was a little sceptical about this game. In fact I still am, but I’ll get to that.
I love ancient things, and I’m quite a horror fan, what could go wrong?
The game pieces, board, cards, dice, tokens, are all super cool! There must have been so much work go into the design of this game. So, yay, off to a good start ascetically.
Then I hit a few bumps in the road.
It’s complicated. As pretty as all those different tokens and cards and dice and pieces are, figuring out how they all works makes me like them less. This is not the game to try and play if you are tired/feeling lazy/not that interested in playing/inebriated.
It took many attempts at reading the book, by different people, to finally figure out where everything even went on the boards layout, never mind actually understanding completely what each piece did. Like, Courage tokens to perform a Desperate Act, but it was very unclear exactly when you could do that or even what that was. But then I was pretty sleepy.
Eventually, we just decided to start playing and figuring it out as we went and that didn’t go so well for us. Apparently we understood so little of the game that by the third turn we realised we were playing so wrong we would need to start all over again. Hmmmm.
I feel like the concept of this game is fantastic. Although I’ve been told, it pulls heavily on Dungeons and Dragons influence, but without player imagination and narrative, which is what makes D&D fun.
Perhaps if I had started this game thinking of it more as a long drawn out risk style rather than 221B Baker street, then I may have been more prepared and willing to get into it more.
I’ll definitely try again, it seems like it has a lot of potential to be great. On the other hand the abundance of game mechanisms is overkill, taking a few of them out wouldn’t have hurt.
Happy playing 🙂