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Sleeping Gods Review

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31 Jan 2022 04:13 #330287 by mads b.
Replied by mads b. on topic Sleeping Gods Review
I think that if you've only found one totem in eight hours of play, then the game is more difficult than you feel it is. For me, the point of combat is mostly not whether I can win or not, but how long I'll spend getting ready for the next possible fight. And that's also where risk mitigation comes in. Can I risk this encounter even though my crew is banged up and exhausted? If I go back here to heal and recover, do I still want to pursue that side quest or should I just get along with what I think will give me a totem?

I get your point about tests and risk, and I think you're right. But precisely because the game is so long I like that you will usually not be screwed by a bad card draw.
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31 Jan 2022 12:32 #330298 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
It's important to me that mechanics match up with theme in a game. When they are aligned, rules are easier to remember because they make sense. When mechanics clash with the rules, they are arbitrary and therefore harder to remember or even learn, if the game is complex. For the most part, Sleeping Gods does a great job of wedding mechanics and theme. The two exceptions were the command tokens and the ability cards. The command tokens sort of make sense, in that they represent the ability to give orders that will be executed immediately, but it often felt like we were herding cats due to a limited economy of command tokens.

Ability cards were even more problematic, because they didn't seem to clearly represent anything that made sense. They are equipped to become... temporary skills? That get used up or lost when the event deck is empty? And it takes command tokens to equip them? It felt like considerable mechanics were used to simulate something that doesn't make any sense. So we initially misunderstood how we were supposed to use them, and it took even longer to realize that we should try to avoid equipping ability cards with more than a 3 fate value.
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31 Jan 2022 16:45 - 31 Jan 2022 16:51 #330303 by Dschanni
Replied by Dschanni on topic Sleeping Gods Review

Shellhead wrote: At it's heart, Sleeping Gods has a euro influence that permeates the overall design. Every turn is an efficiency puzzle to solve, centered on gaining resources, spending resources, and managing resources [...]

It may seem like a minor distinction, but it is actually significant because it shifts the emphasis from risk management to resource management [...]

we have never felt like everything was at risk in a situation [...]

I would recommend this game to any reasonably experienced gamer, if they like co-op games with the semblance of a story.


Appreciate that you do not mince your words and talk tachlis.

I have read other reviews on other sites, had similar impressions, but I was still on the verge.

This has been very helpful for me. Keep up the good work.
Last edit: 31 Jan 2022 16:51 by Dschanni.
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06 Feb 2022 09:17 #330486 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
After another six hours of play yesterday, we finished our first game of Sleeping Gods. We never found another totem. We continued to wrestle with remembering un-thematic rules, such as doing a point of damage anyway even if you miss in combat. That rule alone leads me to believe that the game was designed by a millennial who grew up getting participation trophies.

Losing all of our equipped abilities stung badly when we finished the event deck again. The tight economy of command tokens and fatigue felt like an ongoing handicap that kept us from exploring and enjoying the game. We finally lost a couple of battles, which sped up the game because we were playing at normal difficulty. I truly believe that a potentially great game was partially sabotaged here because the designer was unable to fully break free from an obsession with resource management games. Our finale was 50/50 completely what I expected and not at all what I expected. I averted my eyes, but noticed that there were quite a few possible finale outcomes.

I still like Sleeping Gods. It is a complete and cohesive design that largely accomplishes something distinctive, a blend of choose-your-own-adventure and resource management with an original combat system. But resource management is not something I seek or enjoy in my gaming, so that aspect continued to grate, particularly since it involved the least thematic elements of the game. This would be a good game for serious gamers who either prefer eurogames or are open to playing all types of games. A young or inexperienced gamer could also enjoy Sleeping Gods, as long as there is a more experienced player there to help navigate the moderately complex and counter-intuitive rules.
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07 Feb 2022 22:13 #330539 by Virabhadra
Replied by Virabhadra on topic Sleeping Gods Review
So you ended up with one totem at the end of the whole campaign? Sleeping Gods definitely has a learning curve, but I've seen a couple other people gripe about only finding one or two totems in the course of a whole game and I'm not sure it's a matter of difficulty so much as approach.

To that point, someone on TOS recently noted: "With too many MMOs under my belt, my tendency has been to search all the locations in the starting area for quests and then set off in a direction where I have a few, exploring everything on my way. This ends up feeling awfully disjointed and non-immersive, and none of the individual quests I've stumbled upon so far have lived up this game's narrative promise." Does this resonate at all?

The whole campaign has a set turn limit (the Event deck), so your most valuable resource is time. We learned pretty quickly that checking every map location willy-nilly was a waste because you often need a keyword to access the story there - if you didn't lose resources just by visiting the spot, you still lose an action finding out you don't have the right keyword. We noticedthat the cities and homesteads across the map were the best source of Quests and Keywords leading to totems and started making them our primary destinations.

It helps that my girlfriend is so enthusiastic about the story because the mechanics start to grate on me during long stretches of play. We'll be starting our second campaign soon with easily 60% of the world left to explore and we've actually taken break since the last campaign. GF loves it enough that I know we'll end up exploring every nook and cranny eventually. I've had a difficult time landing on how I feel about the whole thing, though.
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08 Feb 2022 10:40 #330558 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
I have a suspicion that our failure to find totems was related to our exploration style. For the first half of the game, we thoroughly explored the initial two-page map, then moved north to the one with the eerie columns and covered much of that area. In the second half of the game, we moved around more, trying to see more of the overall world at the expense of carefully exploring any one area. As a result, we racked up a lot of keywords that never became relevant.
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13 Jun 2022 11:00 #333644 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
Friend ("F") came over with Acquaintance ("A") to play some Marvel Champions. However, I knew A primarily from playing the following games with him in the past: Mansions of Madness 2nd (one of his favorite games), the Firefly rpg, and a couple of other co-op games. I asked A if he was a fan of Marvel comics, and he said that he had only read one comic book his whole life, though he like the MCU movies. F likes to play all kinds of board games. So I showed them Sleeping Gods, and A was very interested in playing, so we set it up and started a campaign. Since I played once before, just a few months ago, I told them that I would take a back seat to any decisions about exploration. To free me up to look things up in the rules, I also volunteered to play just 2 crew members while they divided up the other 6.

It started well. We did really well in our first three fights, suffering minimal injuries while gaining a bit of XP and loot. We stayed very focused on the initial map, so we completed three quests, though got no totems. By a funny coincidence, all three of those early fights took place when I was the active player, even though we were all doing equal amounts of exploring.

Then we pushed our luck too far. We had a couple of unpromising clues (quests) that we followed up on just to be thorough, even though one involved vicious beasts and the other was an isle of demons. The vicious beasts turned out to be a swarm of venomous wasps that chased us back on the ship. The alleged isle of demons led to a brutal fight with four monsters, and we got wrecked. We drew high cards when we didn't need them, and low cards when we desperately needed high cards, and the lead monster kept counterattacking or attacking for 6 damage, when most of our crew member had just 5 hit points each.

Since we were not playing Brutal Mode, our helpless crew went back on the ship and we washed up at the nearest port after discarding six event cards. This made us lose all of our attached ability cards and put us in a fight with the giant deity-hating sea monster. He easily beat us again, so we lost another 6 event cards. But the sleeping gods healed our whole crew after that fight, so we are ready to get back to the exploring. We are nearly broke, short on food, and most of the crew has at least one exhaustion token. We hit a market once, so we have a few decent pieces of equipment, but no new weapons. However, we had just enough XP to buy one of the cheapest XP cards, so we upgraded my doctor's ability to heal people. We decided to take a break for the night, but look forward to continuing next weekend. F is only in town for two more weeks, but I think it will only take us two more sessions to finish the campaign, since we are already 4/9 of the way through the game.

My opinion of the game has not changed. The exploration is fun, the combat is interesting, the resource management is a hassle, and the command token economy is miserly. Both of my friends really enjoyed the game, more than I did, and that's why I wanted to play Sleeping Gods with them. I don't mind playing a game that gives me mixed feelings if I know that my friends will enjoy it.
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13 Jun 2022 12:50 #333652 by Joebot
Replied by Joebot on topic Sleeping Gods Review

Shellhead wrote:
My opinion of the game has not changed. The exploration is fun, the combat is interesting, the resource management is a hassle, and the command token economy is miserly. Both of my friends really enjoyed the game, more than I did, and that's why I wanted to play Sleeping Gods with them. I don't mind playing a game that gives me mixed feelings if I know that my friends will enjoy it.


My family bounced pretty hard off Sleeping Gods last year when we played it (especially my wife), and I have not been able to get it played again. It makes for a very very pretty shelf toad. I do agree with you regarding the command tokens. That was my least favorite part of the game. When you want to do something cool, or use a neat action card, and you can't ... that kinda sucks sometimes.

I'm very curious about Ryan Laukat's sequel Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies. This looks promising, if for no other reason than that it eliminates the command tokens! It looks like the game streamlines a lot of the more clunky, unintuitive rules around skills and combat. If Distant Skies is a more focused, accessible version of Sleeping Gods, that would be amazing. Here's hoping.
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14 Jun 2022 13:37 #333694 by southernman
Replied by southernman on topic Sleeping Gods Review

Joebot wrote:

Shellhead wrote:
My opinion of the game has not changed. The exploration is fun, the combat is interesting, the resource management is a hassle, and the command token economy is miserly. Both of my friends really enjoyed the game, more than I did, and that's why I wanted to play Sleeping Gods with them. I don't mind playing a game that gives me mixed feelings if I know that my friends will enjoy it.


My family bounced pretty hard off Sleeping Gods last year when we played it (especially my wife), and I have not been able to get it played again. It makes for a very very pretty shelf toad. I do agree with you regarding the command tokens. That was my least favorite part of the game. When you want to do something cool, or use a neat action card, and you can't ... that kinda sucks sometimes.

I'm very curious about Ryan Laukat's sequel Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies. This looks promising, if for no other reason than that it eliminates the command tokens! It looks like the game streamlines a lot of the more clunky, unintuitive rules around skills and combat. If Distant Skies is a more focused, accessible version of Sleeping Gods, that would be amazing. Here's hoping.


Every game will have a target audience, a group of the target that will love it, and people who will dislike parts or all of it ... nothing new there. I enjoy a lot of it and the Command tokens is a good mechanic to make the game a bit more thematic/realistic (stops characters being super humans and running around doing everything while quaffing magic potions to keep them going) but many gamers will find this to hard - totally believable and normal, I find many heavy euros to be beyond my abilities to paly it well enough to have fun or even be able to understand it.

And new game companies are seeing this and are watering down their designs to get more of the market (casual, family, new gamers). Awaken Realms is an example (a company whose games I love) - they produce complex and often grindy games but as the feedback from (self entitled ?) gamers saying "this is a crap game because I'm not having fun" meant they have made changes to grab more customers.
First Etherfields has had official watering down optional rules and components included in their 2nd wave shipping (and even calling it 2.0), then ISS Vanguard had the ship management phase watered down (to my and many people's disgust) because test player groups couldn't understand it or said it took too long (even though all the KS channels got it easily) so now I'm getting a less fun game delivered, then Lords of Ragnarok has had a rules/mechanics watering down from the original Lords of Hellas, and the upcoming Tainted Grail sequel is apparently going to be designed differently and also include a Tainted Grail 2.0 version with the project that I'm assuming will be a watered down edition of the original.

And this is all completely OK as they are a business out to earn money to pay it's staff and shareholders, it's just a downer for people who liked the original design elements their games had that were not based on the lowest common denominator gamer.
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17 Jun 2022 09:47 #333764 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
Am looking forward to continuing the campaign we started last weekend, but I got a text message from one of the players yesterday: "V and I had a great time playing SG the other night. Due to our 11th hour mishap, I contemplated starting over and Vince had thought about houseruling out our last TPK."

Based on my detailed description of the game in progress a few posts above, do you think we should:

A. Pick up where we left off.

B. Quit the current game and start over.

C. Houserule away the implications of our last (second) Total Party Kill, which is to lose six turns out of a 57 turn game.

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17 Jun 2022 13:01 #333767 by WadeMonnig
Replied by WadeMonnig on topic Sleeping Gods Review
I'd have them restart.

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18 Jun 2022 10:45 #333779 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
Re-start sounded reasonable, but it turned out that F's long vacation just got cut short due to work situation, so he is flying out on Tuesday. So we opted to just pick up where we left off, and committed to playing as late as necessary to finish the game.

After several decent turns that included a lucrative encounter, followed by shopping and leveling up, we got another TPK. We eventually rallied, then went after another risky situation that resulted in a very close fight that we lost. Between those two encounters, we lost another 2/9 of the encounter deck, so we were down to 3 turns left in the whole game.

We went back to the previous encounter and tried different tactics, with greater success. We won the fight, won our first totem which was also a great weapon. We went back to the nearby town and did some healing and cleanup of status tokens like weakness and madness, and braced for the final turn.

I won't do any spoilers here, but we survived some tense situations in that final turn, saw one of our crew get really killed (not just KO'd and eligible for healing), and got a bittersweet ending. The other players liked the game a lot, and even I am feeling more kindly towards Sleeping Gods. I don't regret buying this game, even if it isn't precisely the game that I hoped it would be.
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20 Jun 2022 10:51 - 20 Jun 2022 10:51 #333804 by ChristopherMD
Replied by ChristopherMD on topic Sleeping Gods Review
What's the verdict on this games replayability? Do you just play through the main story once and seen enough to not bother again?
Last edit: 20 Jun 2022 10:51 by ChristopherMD.

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20 Jun 2022 11:37 #333808 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Sleeping Gods Review
There is a surprising amount of replayability. Aside from a few early encounters on the starting map, my two campaigns went in different directions with no overlap or repetition. 57 turns sounds like a lot, but you lose 6 turns every time you lose a combat, plus even winning a combat can leave your crew in need of multiple turns of healing. So you might only get the chance to explore maybe 20 locations. I would say there is enough world to explore in the base set for at least 8 to 10 games, and then there is an expansion that mainly just adds more map and encounters. Another expansion adds a dungeon crawling aspect, so even more to explore.

I see potential for even more replay, because I plan to play this with a variety of people and let them take the lead on exploration decisions. That way, I can vicariously appreciate their own enjoyment of exploring the unknown, even when the encounters become familiar to me. Maybe that comes from my background of extensive DMing for rpg groups.
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20 Jun 2022 17:55 #333823 by southernman
Replied by southernman on topic Sleeping Gods Review
Yeah, replayability is a lot higher that you'd expect. We have had two campaigns and have only covered maybe a third of the maps, plus I have the expansion whose maps we haven't been on plus the six dungeons that we haven't used.
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