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Blades in the Dark - Review

Board Game Reviews

Tainted Grail - The Fall of Avalon Review

AL Updated September 09, 2020
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
1337 0
Tainted Grail- The Fall of Avalon: Bryan Ferry's out of control Side Project

Game Information

Publisher
Players
1 - 4
There Will Be Games

The true cup of Christ or merely a grail-shaped beacon?

It was twenty odd hours into our quest for the grail. Over several weeks we had sought answers to its riddle amidst the mud and blood of a sundered Avalon, scavenging for sustenance and forging a hardscrabble existence on the fringes as we reluctantly slid into the ill-fitting boots of heroism.

Hemmed in on all sides by a creeping wyrdness, harried by the creatures of the realm, accused and assailed by a superstitious and starving populace. We were weary, we were chastened, we were squabbling amongst ourselves. The task seemed insurmountable, the rewards ill-formed and amorphous. On the precipice of surrender we packed away the remains of the day and wondered if we’d ever see the sun rise on a horizon devoid of toil and pregnant with possibilities. Exchanging a trio of knowing glances we laughed ruefully at the impossibility of it all.

Then we slid the box back onto the shelf and let out a loooong and deeply cathartic sigh of relief.

Tainted Grail 01

Keep your taint off my Grail

If the intent of prolific development wunderkinds Awaken Realms was for Tainted Grail to instil a sense of grinding, desperate privation and weariness in its players then they must surely be applauded for achieving new heights of thematic verisimilitude. After 21 hours divided across seven sessions I truly felt the burden of my avatar’s plight as I fastidiously assembled the components for play- not with relish and anticipation, but with a dogged sense of duty – for my investment, for this review, for the sunk cost and time fallacy that urged me onwards – even as I knew I’d almost rather be doing anything else.

This reluctant admission has swung and twisted as the game played out and my opinions shifted. Had I penned this piece after my initial fleeting forays upon this ancient soil it would have taken on a very different aspect, as initial impressions near enchanted as they flattered to deceive. A luxurious box, an abundance of cards, robust player boards, artfully sculpted miniatures and an intriguingly thick story book, all draped in beautiful art and design work greeted me seductively at first flush.

It was all so ludicrously promising.

Tainted Grail

And as we plunged into the wyrdness it seemed as though they had done it. Lightning in a bottle. An affirmation of big box ambition. Story and play enmeshed tightly in service of the sharpest hook of all- that of possibility. We were giddy as we unravelled its secrets and sat shaded by its dimensions. We were yet to parse that in its girth it not only offered a world, it straddled a contradiction.

To serve two masters

Drawing upon the influence and precedent set by kickstarter darling ‘The 7th Continent’, Tainted Grail is an evolution in the still emerging Exploration and Survival genre which that equally sprawling effort pioneered. It seeks to distinguish itself and iterate upon the formula by imbuing the game with a much richer and more involved narrative element, but in binding these elements together – it has not so much left seams that are visible as much as it has fashioned seams that ruffle to hessian-chafe the skin should this patchwork garment be worn for any real amount of time.

It’s at this point I must confess that my copy of The 7th Continent has been long since traded away. Whilst it promised a thrilling expedition to a lost world that would compel with its struggle to survive, in practice it seemed to embody nothing so much as a glorified analogue librarian simulator, almost causing me to reflexively utter a cautionary “shhh” through pursed lips as I was continuously compelled to flip through the indexed box of cards that would continue the story.

Rather than direct you to a similar dewey decimal indebted repository, Tainted Grail instead presents its voluminous ring-bound tome.  As you traverse the shrouded land, each location will direct you to a passage in the book where you’ll be presented with a choose your own adventure selection of passages, many of which will be walled off by pre-requisites that must be tracked as you visit and re-visit these hamlets, swamps and battlements. The prose is uniformly well crafted here. Real effort has gone into creating a sense of setting and circumstance that draws you into proceedings. Which is just as well, as throughout the course of your travels, you’ll be doing a LOT of reading.

Tainted Grail

I understand the intent. No amount of card art can compare to the vistas conjured in the mind’s eye by a powerful piece of prose, and as writer I am always entirely appreciative of quality fluff text in enhancing the immersion of a thematic game. The issue here is one of scale.

For you see, reading is a solitary exercise. It requires its own pace. A chance to reflect and absorb. Tainted Grail meanwhile suggests that it should be enjoyed by 1-4 players. There are four player minis in the box (with a fifth as a kickstarter add-on). The sheer size of the components and number of variables to track indicates the workload and presence of a group activity. It is described and advertised as such. But having spent time in its company I wish I could now return to that initial flirtatious phase of our courtship and stride in alone. If I had a table big enough that is.

This is a solo game you guys.

More than just the storybook elements-its every conceit tilts towards the solitary, shifting uncomfortably under the harness of cooperative multiplayer. And nowhere is this more evident than in the encounter system.

Tainted Grail

A puzzling parlay with patience.

Another of the game’s boldest innovations, the combat and diplomacy encounters proudly eschew the dice-based resolution one might expect and instead opt for a card based strategic symbol matching system that like seemingly all elements of Tainted Grail, is touched by both genius and madness.

When confronted by an adversary, be it the fanged menace of a wyrdboar or the squabbling rhetoric of a local councilman, players will be tasked with drawing a hand of cards from either their combat or diplomacy decks and matching symbols on the edge of the adversary card in sequences that form escalating combinations. Options are limited by which cards are drawn and so the puzzle becomes an exercise in contingency, requiring forward thinking and optimisation whilst having a keen eye for the various possibilities inherent in different sequences, all while staggering your assault so as not to trigger the most crippling retributions.

It’s a fun and taxing brain-teaser each time as you ponder the possibilities, scrying the cards and playing out the odds in your head as you patiently and painstakingly eke out a victory or succumb to a winnowing defeat. Fun for the player involved that is. For the rest of the table it’s boring as shit.

But wait! You can act as a group! Sharing the encounter means you can each take turns to splay your best combinations on the table, taking advantage of the increased possibility that the greater pool of move-sets brings and cleverly collaborating to set up increasingly elaborate strings. It also means you get to take turns craning your necks and squinting at the miniscule text and symbols sat in front of the primary player, as you triple or quadruple the analysis paralysis of options that assail you and and one by one realise that holy shit this is totally a solo game.

With one player, the encounters become satisfying self-contained puzzles that one can take the time to breathe in and imbibe. As a group they are an administrative and logistical clusterfuck that just as often begets heated arguments rather than any satisfying symbiosis as inevitably someone pivots to quarterback.

In addition to this, the cards themselves have inbuilt character specific combo opportunities. For example- my character, the farmer Arev is equipped with a scythe and thus his deck is festooned with opportunities to ‘Reap’ which sets up a punishing denouement further down the line and ‘Sow’ which triggers said crescendo. However, with a baseline maximum of three cards in hand each turn, drawn randomly from a deck that spirals in depth and complexity as your character levels up- your ability to marshal these cards in the order required is left largely in the hands of fate, as turn after turn you struggle to make the most of your options in a demoralising succession of ‘if only’s’.

Tainted Grail

Heavy is the hand that lights the beacons

What of the exploration then? That initial sense of wonder as you plunged into the unknown and commenced your search, your journey? Intoxicating at first, the possibilities are enough to keep the game spinning latent in your brain of an evening. As you construct the world from the deck of beautifully illustrated tarot-sized cards, each new location entices and enthrals. Each new revelation both fills in the blanks and posits further questions as you seek to follow the trail set by your forebears into the mystery of a twisted and sickening isle. Without a pre-determined path to corral you, proceedings are imbued with a sense of freedom and agency that seems like it identifies your experience as truly your own.

It lends a feeling of authorship and the stones unturned each sing.

And then the menhirs start to fade.

Tainted Grail

Dotted throughout the map are a series of ancient sculptures, each imbued with the power to keep at bay the wyrdness that threatens to engulf everything in its baleful and toxic miasma. Settlements are constructed in the relative safety of these proximal environs and thus the kingdom of Avalon manages to stumble on meekly in the wake of this harrowing new age of darkness.

But the menhirs are fading, succumbing to corruption themselves. To keep them lit is an act of constant vigilance. And guess who has to do it?

Each turn will see a counter signifying the menhirs extant energies ticking down until the beacons are snuffed out. As they succumb to the darkness -so too does the surrounding landscape. In gameplays terms, this means every adjacent card and location is beholden to the fate of the menhirs- as should they go dark, every ancillary space is removed from the table. As your party traverses the world in pursuit of story objectives, their progress and path will be constantly dictated by the state of the menhirs that must be tended to lest they are snuffed and submerged, robbing you of passage. To activate or re-activate a menhir requires a sacrifice of resources – typically food, wealth and stamina- which you also need to explore, interact with encounters and y’know- stay alive. A generous evaluation of this mechanic would say it lends urgency to proceedings whilst ensuring the sprawl of locations never becomes too unwieldy. In practice however it feels much more like padding and busywork in service to that marketing dot-point proclaiming HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF GAMEPLAY.  And even if that may be a stretch-it certainly does have the capacity to make three hours feel like a hundred.

Tainted Grail

Every time you are presented with an inviting new vista, or uncover a compelling new strand of the mystery to unravel, your progress will inevitably come to a grinding halt as you stop what you are doing to farm for resources that you might rewind the dial on one of these static sentinels.

And speaking of the dials. Fuck the dials. They’re one of the most impractical pieces of inscrutable kit I’ve ever had to squint over in my life. Huge pro-tip: replace them with a handful of six-sided dice at the outset and thank me later.

The busywork involved with this beast doesn’t just involve the menhirs either. There are so many moving parts to this game that the administrative side of things looms large over proceedings at all points. It becomes hard to get lost in an already fragmented story when one is keeping track of the myriad decks, dials and counters that signify and measure progression, any of which if fumbled or left untended can send the train careening off the tracks as the cogwheels of mechanism fail to click. It’s…exhausting. A chore. Especially if you’re gathered in a group and conscious of one another’s time.  

It struck me in contemplating this mechanical baggage that not only is Tainted Grail a solo game- it’s a videogame. An ambitious open-world crafting and survival AAA big budget adventure video game spindled and warped in its transition to cardstock and tabletop.

Tellingly, it has already made that transition, and backers have been supplied with early access codes to a PC release that not only tracks the myriad complexities of the game more efficiently, but narrates the story for you, avoiding the spoilers that are prevalent when glancing through the book. And again, tellingly-it’s a solo experience.

I haven’t played it yet however; I still haven’t finished The Witcher.

Tainted Grail

One step forward…

As we become further enmeshed in what is surely and truly the golden age of tabletop gaming, we need to applaud the ambition on display as developers seek to take chances and escape the boundaries of established norms, pushing the envelope in an attempt to stand out, poking their head above the teeming throng that comprises an ever more crowded release schedule. Tainted Grail is more ambitious than most and as a pioneer of sorts we shouldn’t be surprised that it often stumbles.

If my tone throughout has bordered on condemnation then it is only as a reflection of experience clashing with my expectations, and indeed the expectations fostered by the box. There is a lot to love here – some of it even masterful, but it is splintered by a dichotomy that towers over everything like a signposting menhir or the breadth of the gamebox itself.  

This hybrid novelty, this ambitious abomination is too solo for groups and too big for solo.

As a multiplayer game it tests the bonds and the patience of the group. Players are rarely served by splitting the party and following their individual muse and are all too often forced into passive acquiescence or to the role of a passenger.

As a solo game, I think it will shine, perhaps even scintillate. Unshackled to set your own agenda and pace, the solitary pilgrim will find much to soak in as they wend their way through the wyrdness.

But you better have an almost clerical predilection for stat tracking and admin.

And a fucking big table.

Tainted Grail

Insert Roxy Music Reference

In the end, the future of this kind of experience is yet to be written. With the staggering success of this effort we have already seen the first inklings of imitation in the likes of Mythic’s sure-to-be-broken, please-prove-me-wrong ‘Hel: The Last Saga’ and the further videogamification of the hobby seems assured as it strives to capture the same kind of audience and profit margins seen booming in that space. Tainted Grail may yet end up signifying the faltering first steps in a brave new direction, or an aborted evolutionary offshoot, shorn of its plumage by the winter of logistic fallibility. Time will tell. In the meantime, should you crave a story-rich socially-tilted multiplayer tabletop experience- the RPG space is also in the throes of a renaissance you would be well served investigating.

Tainted Grail


Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
3.0
Tainted Grail
AL
1 reviews
Andi Lennon
Associate Writer

Andi Lennon is Sydney based writer, musician and soap dodger. He graduated from Wizbang University with full honours and no teeth. When he isn't feeling conflicted about Morrissey he likes to play indie games with a dubious 80's aesthetic.

You can read more of his work by visiting Mongol Cult

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MarloweSpade's Avatar
MarloweSpade replied the topic: #313864 09 Sep 2020 02:03
Excellent review! As a primarily solo player, the phrase "too solo for groups and too big for solo" hit home, as a lot of games I look forward to end up fitting snugly in this category. The busywork involved in TG sounds like a dealbreaker either way.

Also, the constant use of "wyrd" throughout the game text would bug the everloving shit out of me.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313865 09 Sep 2020 02:12

MarloweSpade wrote: Excellent review! As a primarily solo player, the phrase "too solo for groups and too big for solo" hit home, as a lot of games I look forward to end up fitting snugly in this category. The busywork involved in TG sounds like a dealbreaker either way.

Also, the constant use of "wyrd" throughout the game text would bug the everloving shit out of me.


Yeah, to sit down and dine alone at a table set for four will always be weird. Sorry, 'wyrd'. :)

I'm sure there's a certain fastidious accountant mindset that will adore the kind of upkeep on offer here but oh man am I not it.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #313871 09 Sep 2020 09:46
This is what I kind of expected when reading about it. Storytelling games can occasionally work, such as Tales of the Arabian Nights, but even that, a clearly multiplayer game, is burdened by trying to mesh decent mechanics with an expansive story. (Does anyone really take anything other than 10 destiny and 10 story points?) And I think the comparison with RP video games and actual RPGs is spot on. 30 years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about this excellent game of Talisman I had had with some other friends, describing the ins and outs of movement on the board and fighting each other on the way to the Crown of Command. He was an RPG-only player and was mystified at how stories like that could come out of [dismissive tone] "a board game..." I convinced him to try and he was hooked. There is room there to intermingle the two kinds of approach. But there are limits to all things.

And, yes, the one thing that stuck out to me when hearing about Tainted Grail was "card-based combat." Ugh. Cold fact: There's something viscerally pleasing about rolling a handful of dice, even when you lose. Without this tactile pleasure, GW would have never existed. The difference between card combat and dice combat is that, with the latter, everything is a scenario unto itself. You try to hedge the odds in your favor, roll your dice, and you're done. As you mention, with card combat, it's a series of "What ifs" ("Damn! If only I'd drawn this card three rounds from now!") that are, if anything, more frustrating than a toss of bouncing cubes/tetrahedrons/whatever. In a lot of card combat, you can often see yourself failing and have no way of getting out of it... except for that card you drew last round that would've saved you. Yay? One of the best examples was Runewars. I really like the game and I can see what they were trying to do, but the card combat just grates.

And this sounds not that dissimilar from other Awaken Realms efforts. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Lords of Hellas, but I think that one is (thankfully) restrained by its own mechanics and it seems telling that others have spoken of the various expansions as unnecessary weight to an already solid game. It sounds like the expansions were already built in to Tainted Grail, by dint of wanting to make that sprawling world as replayable as possible. Too bad it sounds like their cup may have runneth over.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #313879 09 Sep 2020 11:31
This is such a good review! One of the better ones on the site.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #313895 09 Sep 2020 14:04
Excellent. A great read. It gave me a lot to think about, not only about Tainted Grail, but also about other games in this space. I think I agree with you, that card board may not be the right medium for these sprawling games.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #313899 09 Sep 2020 14:59

ubarose wrote: Excellent. A great read. It gave me a lot to think about, not only about Tainted Grail, but also about other games in this space. I think I agree with you, that card board may not be the right medium for these sprawling games.


"Should this be a video game?" is a very real question solo and coop designers should ask themselves. I feel the same way about Gloomhaven, but I'm kinda in the minority on that one. I admit I haven't played the physical version extensively, but after playing the computer version a bit I just kinda thought, "there are half a dozen better video games for this."

One thing that video games are also able to do seems to be to crank up the difficulty a bit, because losing a solo or coop board game is more off-putting for some reason.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #313900 09 Sep 2020 15:11
I agree with this review (very well written too), but I don't think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if it was a video game.

By shifting to an electronic format the competition is entirely different. This game doesn't stand out or provide anything really unique in that format.

However, as a tabletop design I get much joy travelling the land and seeing the large cards form a picturesque environment. Additionally, flipping through the book and seeing the choices branch before you hits a choose your own adventure feel I would miss.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #313903 09 Sep 2020 15:43
I have neither played this in tabletop or video game form. But like others have mentioned, I always feel like these kinds of things just can't win. They are too unwieldy in tabletop form, so they would be better served electronically. BUT... at that point there is no real reason to have tabletop-style game play, so now you have a lackluster video game. :/
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #313904 09 Sep 2020 15:48
I tend to like these many-systems-solo-ish games, but what holds them back is when they are a campaign system. My table has multiple uses, so I just can't keep this stuff set up. If I had lots of extra spending money I'd probably get one of those overpriced drop surface gaming tables for these sorts of these games, tbh.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #313912 09 Sep 2020 16:39
TAINTED FAIL should have been the name of this review, LOL. I was surprised to see it got 3 stars after reading it to be honest.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313931 09 Sep 2020 21:15

Jackwraith wrote: And, yes, the one thing that stuck out to me when hearing about Tainted Grail was "card-based combat." Ugh. Cold fact: There's something viscerally pleasing about rolling a handful of dice, even when you lose. Without this tactile pleasure, GW would have never existed. The difference between card combat and dice combat is that, with the latter, everything is a scenario unto itself. You try to hedge the odds in your favor, roll your dice, and you're done. As you mention, with card combat, it's a series of "What ifs" ("Damn! If only I'd drawn this card three rounds from now!") that are, if anything, more frustrating than a toss of bouncing cubes/tetrahedrons/whatever. In a lot of card combat, you can often see yourself failing and have no way of getting out of it... except for that card you drew last round that would've saved you. Yay? One of the best examples was Runewars. I really like the game and I can see what they were trying to do, but the card combat just grates.


Yeah, many are the times we wearily went to the deck wishing for a handful of cool custom dice to clatter whilst making our way through this one. However, i'd say when it's done well- card based combat offers a level of depth and engagement that dice will never match. I thought it was done masterfully in Gloomhaven, each turn a beautiful balance between strategy and contingency as you marshalled your dwindling hand of resources. And I've recently been enamoured with "Judge Dredd:Helter Skelter" which is almost entirely card based combat. With dice it would be puddle-shallow but with cards it's a satisfying but still light series of decisions that engage and give the feeling of way more agency. I think both approaches definitely have their place- in this case as a one player puzzle it kind of works and offers one of the few genuine ludic decision spaces in the game. Unfortunately in a multiplayer session it both slows proceedings to a crawl and is a logistic nightmare.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313932 09 Sep 2020 21:19

Gary Sax wrote: This is such a good review! One of the better ones on the site.


Thank you. truly. As someone who comes from a background of doing music reviews and articles (arguably an even more subjective space) it's been a challenge to balance pieces that need to encompass mechanical and thematic considerations, along with more amorphous factors like ambition and a designer's authorial intent. I think to speak to one's experience is the only real way to go. With a garnish of crap poetry ;)
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313934 09 Sep 2020 21:28

ubarose wrote: Excellent. A great read. It gave me a lot to think about, not only about Tainted Grail, but also about other games in this space. I think I agree with you, that card board may not be the right medium for these sprawling games.


It's difficult to say. I think if the central hook and experience of a game is compelling enough then we're more inclined to forgive a little bloat and book-keeping. I've played more of Kingdom Death Colon Monster in the past two years than almost all other titles combined (with the exception of RPG's) and it can sprawl in a most ungainly fashion. But oh man is it ever unique and compelling enough in the stories it tells to warrant the investment. Having said that-in most instances, be they analogue or digital, I much prefer a tight and focused experience where the agency comes from gameplay and the story or narrative is a strong supporting mechanism. The really memorable moments and tales that linger tend to emerge from gameplay rather than any scripting- and I reluctantly admit that despite being engaged as a writer for games as well as on games. I think games like TG are still finding their feet in an experimental space but as it stands there's a long way to go in making such an experience sing in the way a good session of D&D et al can. TG still feels a lot like you're being told a story rather than telling it together.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313935 09 Sep 2020 21:42

Jexik wrote:

ubarose wrote: Excellent. A great read. It gave me a lot to think about, not only about Tainted Grail, but also about other games in this space. I think I agree with you, that card board may not be the right medium for these sprawling games.


"Should this be a video game?" is a very real question solo and coop designers should ask themselves. I feel the same way about Gloomhaven, but I'm kinda in the minority on that one. I admit I haven't played the physical version extensively, but after playing the computer version a bit I just kinda thought, "there are half a dozen better video games for this."

One thing that video games are also able to do seems to be to crank up the difficulty a bit, because losing a solo or coop board game is more off-putting for some reason.


I've dipped into the digital version of Gloomhaven briefly but it really doesn't capture what makes the tabletop version so special. The cooperative elements don't shine and it can't compete with dedicated SRPGS or TRPGS that dominate the digital space. There are certainly instances where I prefer the digital equivalent of even lauded tabletop games though. There's an unofficial and definitely legally grey app version of Eldritch Horror that I love mashing out on bus-rides. The automation of what is normally some deeply obtrusive upkeep phases means games are shorn from a trying 3+hrs to a brisk clip of around 45 mins. I'm not well versed enough in solo tabletop play to offer any kind of compelling authority on the subject but i will say i enjoy a dip into smaller games like EtDC whilst alone, but sitting down to something like TG or KDM or Gloomhaven etc by myself would just feel weird and overwhelming. Perhaps if i ever have the space for a dedicated table where i can leave them splayed and arrayed to dip into at leisure? It still seems weirdly antithetical to the primary lure of boardgames/RPG's for me though- which is that of a shared social and storytelling experience. I will be examining 'Seekers Beyond the Shroud' soon though, so we'll see how that pans out.

Also, this petite little thing recently arrived, and its mint-tin dimensions feel like more my speed for soloing:
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313936 09 Sep 2020 21:47

charlest wrote: I agree with this review (very well written too), but I don't think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if it was a video game.

By shifting to an electronic format the competition is entirely different. This game doesn't stand out or provide anything really unique in that format.

However, as a tabletop design I get much joy travelling the land and seeing the large cards form a picturesque environment. Additionally, flipping through the book and seeing the choices branch before you hits a choose your own adventure feel I would miss.


True, and I think that will be the downfall of any analogue game that tries to ape the conventions of videogames. They'll always be playing catch-up with one leg tied. The choose your own adventure/fighting fantasy element definitely milks the right nostalgia glands for me too but just doesn't sit right as a group activity. Especially if certain members of the group are too reserved and/or stoic to do the funny voices hahaha
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313938 09 Sep 2020 21:48

hotseatgames wrote: I have neither played this in tabletop or video game form. But like others have mentioned, I always feel like these kinds of things just can't win. They are too unwieldy in tabletop form, so they would be better served electronically. BUT... at that point there is no real reason to have tabletop-style game play, so now you have a lackluster video game. :/


To serve two masters right? It's a bit like singing drummers hahaha. Cool in theory...
(Sorry Ventor)
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313939 09 Sep 2020 21:57

Gary Sax wrote: I tend to like these many-systems-solo-ish games, but what holds them back is when they are a campaign system. My table has multiple uses, so I just can't keep this stuff set up. If I had lots of extra spending money I'd probably get one of those overpriced drop surface gaming tables for these sorts of these games, tbh.


Yeah, as you can see we're playing on the floor which does wonders for the lower back. It does have a fairly functional save system- especially if your sessions are frequent enough that you don't lose the thread mentally but I'd love to have a dedicated gaming table, or even a dining table of sufficient dimensions to leave these things set up to approach at leisure rather than as a dedicated and pre-meditated 'date'. Although if that were the case it would probably be crowded by Dungeon Degenerates or KDM so...

I like the idea of campaign games more than the reality I think. It's great to have an evolving story or circumstance to dwell upon between sessions but for the most part they're just too long. Give me a story (or even 3-4 separate stories) that can be spun through in 4-5 sittings and i'd be chuffed. Pandemic Legacy was a great example of this. A campaign game where the story mostly evolved out of play mechanics and didn't overstay its welcome. I'm looking forward to the KIng's Dilemna for similar reasons.

Actually Machina Arcana does this really well too. Self contained stories that can be played as a continuing arc and I hear the writing in the new expansion is going to be fire! ON KICKSTARTER SEPTEMBER 22!!! :D
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313940 09 Sep 2020 22:02

Msample wrote: TAINTED FAIL should have been the name of this review, LOL. I was surprised to see it got 3 stars after reading it to be honest.


Haha I considered that for about a picosecond but it's way too obvious. Other contenders were 'Coke Fuelled Bryan Ferry Solo Album spirals out of control' and 'WICKED ZOOT!'

In the end the length of the subtitle put paid to any crap witticisms.

As far as the star rating I have to say I reeeaaaally hate having to provide one. I don't think anyone is served by condensing analysis into an arbitrary binary metric. In awarding it three stars i was accounting for the quality of components and writing, the ambition and the fact that i acknowledge it may well work better for others than it did for me. You'll see me hand out a lot of three star reviews! But the text should do the talking :)
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #313941 09 Sep 2020 22:12

Andi Lennon wrote: As far as the star rating I have to say I reeeaaaally hate having to provide one. I don't think anyone is served by condensing analysis into an arbitrary binary metric. In awarding it three stars i was accounting for the quality of components and writing, the ambition and the fact that i acknowledge it may well work better for others than it did for me. You'll see me hand out a lot of three star reviews! But the text should do the talking :)


I feel like a 2 star rating might have the unfortunate effect of having people skip the review entirely. "Oh, this is bad? I guess I don't need to worry about it then." A 3 is more like, "tell me more about this almost-there game." It definitely seems like you wanted to like this one.
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Andi Lennon replied the topic: #313942 09 Sep 2020 22:34

Jexik wrote:

Andi Lennon wrote: As far as the star rating I have to say I reeeaaaally hate having to provide one. I don't think anyone is served by condensing analysis into an arbitrary binary metric. In awarding it three stars i was accounting for the quality of components and writing, the ambition and the fact that i acknowledge it may well work better for others than it did for me. You'll see me hand out a lot of three star reviews! But the text should do the talking :)


I feel like a 2 star rating might have the unfortunate effect of having people skip the review entirely. "Oh, this is bad? I guess I don't need to worry about it then." A 3 is more like, "tell me more about this almost-there game." It definitely seems like you wanted to like this one.


I really did man, especially after how much I spent on it and how long I waited for it to arrive.

A grim themed adventure game with CYOA elements and tactical combat? HOOK IT TO MY VEINS!

Alas, a cautionary tale.