Tag Archives: Easy to learn

Undercity

Undercity. Privateer Press, 2015. $95. Design and development by William Schoonover. 4 Character Sheets, each with their own decks of Ability and Feat cards, 1 bland game board with 16 bland map tiles, 22 Event cards, 24 Side Quest cards, 34 Villain Action cards, 11 different Villain Stat cards, 1 rulebook, 1 seven-chapter Campaign Guide, 44 colorful soft plastic miniatures, 8 six-sided dice, and a horde of tokens and markers. 2-4 players. 14+. 1-2 hours play time per chapter.

In this cooperative fantasy board game set in the Iron Kingdoms’ city of Corvis, players take on the roles of four unique heroes who work together as a team through seven quests (“chapters”) while developing their abilities by spending experience points, gained from defeating villains, between each game until the final showdown.

There’s so much to love about this game! The miniatures are beautiful and evocative of the setting. The heroes are interesting and unique, such as Pog & Doorstop. Who wouldn’t want to play a Gobber Bodger & his Steamjack? The seven chapters grow in complexity and story. And Side Quest cards provide additional possible rewards and challenges, while the Event cards throw in occasional complications and act as a timer.

The unique Heroes abilities and Feat cards make the heroes interesting and provide a very engagingly heroic feel. This completely cooperative game has a detailed but easy to implement card and rule driven AI system for activating the villains to challenge the heroes. The combat system is simple but effective and each hero has their own style. There are also rules for increasing or decreasing the difficulty of play so you can tailor the experience to your group.

While the much criticized board is indeed bland beyond belief (which is an oddity in an otherwise so well done artistic game) it is functional. The narrative text for each chapter feels unincorporated into actual game play and is easily skipped. The theme comes through in the game but I wish the story itself was better integrated and more essential to play.

As a cooperative fantasy board games with campaign linked adventures and character development, Undercity really delivers! I just find myself wishing for more adventures and more heroes to vary the replay ability of the game. Hopefully expansions aren’t far away.

This review was written based on a privately purchased retail copy. No compensation was involved.
c2015 by Richard A. Edwards

Fallen

Fallen. Watchtower Games, 2014. $50. Designed by Tom W. Green and Stephen C. Smith. 30 Story cards, 3 Heroes (each with 1 hero card, 10 signature power cards, 9 skill cards), 3 Dungeon Lords (each with 1 lord card, 10 signature power cards, 11 final battle cards), 28 creature cards, 40 core power cards, 24 equipment/treasure cards, 12 omen cards, 16 critical injury cards, 22 custom dice, and 80+ tokens and a rulebook. 2 players. Ages 14+. 90 minutes.

This story-driven, fantasy card and dice game pits a single hero versus a dungeon lord and his creatures in three rounds of adventure followed by an epic showdown.

The hero player chooses one of three heroes, each of which come with a specialized skill deck that allows you to develop using experience gained during play. All characters have a specialized deck of 10 Power cards that they mix with half the generic Power deck to create a unique deck for this game. The other player chooses one of three dungeon lords and sorts his creatures into their three levels and places four to start.

The mechanics are really straightforward and the rulebook is one of the best I’ve ever read being well organized, detailed, and clearly written.

Gameplay revolves around the dungeon lord randomly pulling a story card (there are 30 in the game) and then reading a series of fantasy situations and choices. The hero’s choice then determines which type of challenge will be done.

Challenges are then resolved by both players creating and rolling dice pools modified by various cards, including equipment, power, skills, creatures, treasures, omens, and fortune tokens. The winner gains experience that can be used to upgrade hero skills or creature levels, and both sides may gain additional benefits.

Once three story cards have been resolved (each takes about 30 minutes), then the upgraded hero and dungeon lord face off in a final battle. The challenges here are based on the lord’s unique deck of Final Battle cards, where the first to win three challenges is proclaimed victor of the game.

If you’re not a fan of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games, then this may not appeal. There are only 3 heroes and 3 dungeon lords, and although all of them are unique that is a limited cast to choose from even with so much replay ability from the various card decks.

If you enjoy story-driven games that also deliver a quick playing, card/dice, head to head gaming experience, then, like me, you may find the game so enjoyable that you’ll be wanting more. Luckily expansions are on the way. Highly recommended.

This review was written based on a privately purchased retail copy. No previous relationship with the game publisher nor compensation was involved.
c2015 by Richard A. Edwards