Friday, June 2, 2017

Tabletop Friday: Dark Souls The Board Game

Did you know there was a Dark Souls board game that was recently released?

Just as with the game, prepare to die, a lot, as you and your party explore dark dungeons filled with monsters and traps that will DESTROY YOU. When it comes to capturing the feel of a digital game in tabletop form, Dark Souls nails the aesthetic and ever-looming sense of dread. Unlike the digital version of the series, character creation is significantly streamlined letting you jump into the game within 10 minutes of pulling it out of the box.

Each class has a whole suite of specific cards detailing equipment and skills, with no gaurentee you will ever come across all of them during a single game. The random factor between set-up and the "AI" player's dice rolls (this can be an actual, fifth player or just the four of you trading off) makes it so that every run is different. To a point. Play it enough times and you'll eventually get a good feel for the usual flow of the game. During my first game session, as a Warrior, I basically figured pretty quickly what would and would not kill me. The ever fickle dice can still cause catastrophe. Helping to offset the pain of random events is the playing pieces, which are gorgeous minis that alas, you need to paint yourself: 

Between the cards, player boards and pre-built minis, set up really is quick and easy! The board gets filled in with interlocking tiles as you explore, so there is no need to spend 30 minutes laying down 20+ playing pieces. The "Endurance" system only lets you get away with actions until you start to get too penalized to continue without resting, which sounds annoying, but in practice? Created a good pace and forced strategic thinking over when to attack, when to defend and when to run the hell away. 

Alas, within the span of just a few encounters, the strategy of "send the tank in first to aggro" was deployed and made progress a breeze until The Executioner turned up. Boss Monsters have their own deck of skills, and they will kill you. A lot. Dying may not be the end of the game (which is good!) but it significantly increases playing time well past the 2 hours on the box. This wasn't much of a problem for the group at the Friendly Local Gaming Store (Funtertia in Valdosta, Georgia!), but it could drain the will to play real quick depending on your players. 

Just like the actual Dark Souls. 

That becomes the biggest with Dark Souls: The Board Game. It's just like the digital Dark Souls games. For better and for worse. Personally, I had a blast, and while the game is pricey ($120), it easily offers up a Game Night's worth of entertainment and can actually serve as a way to get people interested into the wider Dark Souls franchise. 

You can pick up Dark Souls: The Board Game from your own Friendly Local Gaming Store, or from this handy Amazon link:

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