A Darkest Night Smorgasbord
A couple of weeks ago, I had a cliffhanger at the end of my Darkest Night review. Well, here is the follow-up. All expansions reviewed here at in The Review Section. The short version is that the first and latest expansions are the must-haves, but they are strangely sort of redundant because both completely alter the main quest line of the game. With An Inner Light adds quests to add objectives other than looking for keys and bettering your characters, In Tales of Old adds a slightly different kind of quest (Mysteries) that do away with the keys and have you looking for clues to find Holy Relics instead.
It does actually feel like Darkest Night has sort of been developed as it goes along, I can’t disagree with that criticism. But it’s still a really great game, one of the better big-scale co-op adventure games on the market. I think there is a rumor about an all-in Kickstarter, which would probably be worth buying when it releases to the public. Especially if it sort of irons out some of the seams between expansions.
In the forums I asked the question, “why aren’t you people talking about Undercity”. It really demonstrates a lapse of taste and judgment among the F:AT membership that folks aren’t like “Undercity, whoa”. Because so far, the game is awesome. It’s true that we need a new dungeoncrawler about as much as we need another strip mall with a Chinese restaurant, a nail place and a mattress store. But when the quality is as high as it is in Undercity, it may be worth jettisoning one or more of the also-rans to make room for it.
It’s a very studied design in that it is clearly nicking some of the best bits from other games, and those familiar with the genre will be able to play “spot the influence”. But it comes together supremely well and it manages to bring its own flavor. I love that it is definitely an Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine game and it totally feels like it- on the second scenario, I had a rampaging Warjack show up in the middle of the mission and that led to some of the bone-crunching, body-slamming combat that made Warmachine so much fun. Classes and characters are fun, and the scenario design is superlative- it’s MUCH better than Imperial Assault in this regard with some unique setups and objectives.
It’s all very simple- not much more complicated than D&DAS. I think this may be a real contender, don’t let all of the bellyaching about the bland board put you off from it. It’s actually pretty smart. Setup takes five minutes instead of fifteen.
In contrast, Secrets of the Lost Tomb seems to be a sprawling, unwieldy mess of a dungeoncrawler. There are some interesting things about it, but I dunno. Very iffy on it so far. The high level concept of doing an Arkham Horror/Indiana Jones inspired “tombcrawler” is a great one. But the design is classic Kickstarter in all the wrong ways.
On the more positive Kickstarter end…I requested Xia: Legends of a Drift System from the publisher in December of last year. I got an email last week asking if I still wanted one, the new second printing. So yay, that came in the mail yesterday. I soloed a three player game last night and…hoo boy, I’m on a roll with pickin’ ‘em. This game is GREAT. My knee-jerk reaction was to toss Merchant of Venus into a Big Barnes Sale and possibly put Merchants and Marauders in there as well. I think it is probably better than Firefly, despite losing the specific flavor of that title.
The one thing I love most about is that it looks INSANELY complicated. I flipped through the rules and was like “oh man…” But then I saw that it was really just a very easy to grasp energy management thing with a logical upgrade path for the component types based on what die they get to roll and their size. After the first turn I totally got it, and in a way it feels like a very high-end family game with just a bit more detail. I like the missions, I like the “terrain”, love the energy mechanics. It seems much more like an “opportunities” game rather than a long-term strategic planning one, which I really like because it creates a truly open world environment.
The production is just obnoxious…I scoff at metal coins regularly, but these things are SWANK. And the painted ship miniatures are really fun. Definitely looking forward to bringing this out with a group, but I am really thinking that this needs to top out at three players.
Star Trek: Five Year Mission is probably the worst game I’ve played this year.