Claustrophobia. Asomdee, 2009. $70. Designed by Croc. Rulebook, 17 pre-painted miniatures, 36 dungeon tiles, assorted tokens and cards, and 13 dice. 2 players. 45-90 minutes.
In this thematic dungeon delving game, one player takes the role of the Redeemer with his band of Condemned henchmen while the other player assumes the guise of a demon with his horde of troglodytes. Players select a scenario that provides goals for both sides and setup instructions. Each round starts with the Human player rolling dice and assigning one to each warrior. The die chosen determines that figure’s movement, combat and defense for the round. Then each warrior moves and attacks (or attacks then moves). The Demon player then rolls his dice (usually 3) and assigns them to the Board of Destiny which provides various effects including gaining Threat Points which are spent to bring troglodytes and even demons onto the board. Finally, the Demon player can move and attack (or attack then move) with each of his figures.
The game rules are deceptively easy, though it takes a few rounds to understand how to assign dice to each human warrior’s stand or the demon’s destiny board for best effect. Before long players are immersed in the action of moving through the beautiful dungeon tiles of rooms and corridors while the heroes are slowly whittled at by the troglodyte nuisances until suddenly the demon menace appears for the coup de grace. Each scenario builds to a climactic point where the humans, having been wounded, are in peril of their lives while the demonic hordes, having steadily been growing stronger, suddenly cause the quest to be in peril!
Claustrophobia does not have any mechanism for developing characters for either side between games. Each scenario starts afresh, though each does offer certain gifts or items (cards) at the start and objects may be found during the scenario. The combat and movement are simplistic but thematic. The game is reminiscent of Space Hulk, with its opposing sides, hordes of monsters versus a small band of heroic warriors and differing scenarios.
The ease and speed of play with the beauty of the artwork and differing scenarios (even more of which are available on their website (http://www.claustrophobia-theboardgame.com), and cards providing different demons and gifts for the Redeemer make this a highly enjoyable dungeon romp and will leave you wanting more. Highly recommended.
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
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