Forgotten Souls

Forgotten Souls. FFG, 2014. $14.95. Design by Jonathan E. Bove. Graphic Design by Chris Beck. Cooperative expansion for Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition). 32 cards and 1 Tracking sheet. Warning: rules not included (must be downloaded from FFG website). 2-4 players. 3-4 hours. Ages 14+.

First of a series of cooperative adventures released for Organized Play events, Forgotten Souls provides Descent players with a fully cooperative (no one plays the Overlord) experience. The Track Sheet is marked with Fate and Doom tokens that march toward each other as bad things happen and when heroes get defeated. If too many things go wrong, the markers will meet and the players lose. Three numbered “main encounter” cards are stacked in order with random cards to create a semi-random exploration deck that also provides a story line for this adventure. When doors are opened a new area is explored and an Exploration card is drawn and new tiles and challenges are set up and described.

The Overlord phase works really well to provide a great challenge. First, the active Exploration card directs an action based on the location. Then, if there is no active Exploration, Fate advances and a Peril card throws a random nasty event at the group. Finally monsters activate based on special Activation cards that in our experience play really well. The result is a fast paced adventure full of surprises. And all without one player having to take on an adversarial role.

A printed copy of the rules not being included and not mentioned on the outside of the packaging was a shock, but easily remedied by printing them out from FFG’s website. While the first play through is exciting and new, after several plays the adventure and cards are well known and begin to seem repetitive. This adventure is also very challenging, so expect to lose the first time or two while figuring out the best approach to the challenges.

Forgotten Souls is a wonderful, inexpensive addition to Descent. Only the core Descent game is needed to play. The experience is fully cooperative and the system created for running the Overlord phase works amazingly well. The adventure can feel like a bit more like a race than an adventure due to trying to avoid Despair cards by keeping moving. In truth, Forgotten Souls simply makes me wish for more of this type of cooperative adventure.

Though I believe this review to be fair and objective, I feel obligated to provide the following information. This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. I have a long standing relationship with Fantasy Flight Games as a freelance contractor including as a play tester and paid editor for Descent expansions. No compensation for this review was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards

Blueprints

Blueprints. Z-Man, 2013. $30. Designed by Yves Tourigny. Dice drafting game with 32 dice, 24 Blueprint cards, 9 Award cards, 12 Prize cards, 4 player screens, 1 cloth bag, scoreboard and markers. 2-4 players. 30-45 minutes. Ages 14+.

In Blueprints, players are given a Blueprint card and then take turns drafting dice to use in building the design on their Blueprint card. After 6 turns the round is over and the dice are scored. The goal is to gain Award cards by making the most points based on how the various colored dice are used and completing your plan as well as gaining Prize cards based on completing specific goals (such as using 5 dice of the same color). Both types of cards are worth victory points which is tallied at the end of 3 rounds to determine the victor.

With only 3 rounds and only 6 dice drafted each round, the game is quick yet engaging. Each player’s turn consists of selecting one die from those available, adding it to their building (the plan for which is hidden behind their screen) and then drawing and rolling a new random die. Every turn players are faced with deciding how to increase their building’s point value by choosing the best die by color or number that can be added while also keeping an eye on the possible Prize cards by achieving specific unrelated goals.

The game consists of random dice rolling and those players who don’t enjoy games in which luck plays a large part may not appreciate this game. And while each Blueprint card is unique, they are not very engaging or different. Few strategic plans will last much more than a turn since players must react to the available dice which can be frustrating. There is little player interaction beyond drafting a die your opponent may want.

If you enjoy games where you must constantly reevaluate and develop your position based on choosing the best path in a fast changing, random environment, then you may well like this game. It is quick, portable, and with the right group who enjoy games with lots of chance, a lot of fun.

This review was written based on a privately purchased copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.

c2014 by Richard A. Edwards