Tag Archives: Solitaire

Shadows of Malice

Shadows of Malice. Devious Weasel Games, 2014. $60. Designed by Jim Felli. 5 map tiles, about 200 cards and 200 tokens, 100+ plastic “Soulshards”, 24 6-sided dice, 1 reference card, 1 rule booklet. 1-8 players. Ages 14+. 1 hour plus 1 hour per player/map tile used.

In this cooperative fantasy board game, players are Avatars who move around the world to find mystics and cities, and gain treasures and Soulshards by combat in monster infested Lairs. After they improve, they must defeat the Stronghold Guardians in hope of revealing all the Light Wells before the Shadows (run by the game) grow and escape Shadow Realm trying to also find a Light Well and use its power to call forth Xulthul! Once this evil is summoned, the heroes’ only hope is to defeat Xulthul in combat before it can extinguish the last Light Well, destroying the world.

The game is very thematic. Each Avatar has a unique Mastery card granting it two abilities, one of which requires a “Soulshard” to power. While movement is dice-based, you can always move at least one hex. There are several types of cities and mystics to reveal, and monsters are randomly generated (Stronghold Guardians are fixed) making it impossible to know exactly what you’re going to find in any given Lair.

There is a lot of dice rolling in combat. Combat is done in rounds with a simple 1d6 for both sides, but modified by several factors (potions, treasures, abilities), some set, most random, each of which may require its own dice roll. A single combat round might require half a dozen or more dice rolls. And there will probably be multiple rounds.

In truth, this system can build quite a combat narrative! My sword roll fails but my amulet roll helps guide my blow and if I hit, my potion roll might add damage. If I’m hit, my shield rolls might stop extra points of damage. The variable nature of item rolls can make each combat exciting or tedious depending on how you view dice rolling.

The artwork is minimalistic, with tokens, not miniatures, but this does not detract from the depth of game play.

Overall, I find Shadows of Malice to be a great solitaire and multiplayer cooperative fantasy adventure game. The rules are well written and the game play straightforward. A complex but not complicated game. Lots of strategic choices from whether to band together to assault a Stronghold before the Shadow gets there, or to split up and go after separate goals. If you’re looking for a solid cooperative or solo fantasy adventure, Shadows of Malice is highly recommended. And there’s an expansion, Seekers of a Hidden Light, coming soon.

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

Tiger Leader

Tiger Leader. Dan Verssen Games, 2015. $90. Designed by Rick Martin. 1 tactical display sheet (mounted), 1 headquarters sheet (paper), 1 rule book, 240 cards, about 400 counters, 12 terrain tiles, 1 player log sheet, 1 10-sided die. 1 player. 30+ minutes for a single battle, 2+ hours for campaign.

In Tiger Leader, a player creates and commands a combined arms German World War II Kampfgruppe. Starting with choosing a campaign (out of 9 ranging from the 1939 invasion of Poland to the final days of Berlin in 1945) and objective, players build their KG by using “Special Option” points to pick specific types of units available in the campaign time period. Units include infantry, armor, and artillery and range from Panzer I to King Tigers. Each command has cards representing six skill levels from recruit to ace.

Your enemy, played by the game system since this is a solitaire game, is represented by battalion cards. Your goal is to gain victory points by reducing or destroying as many enemy battalions as you can with the force that you have in the time allotted by the campaign you’re playing.

Each week of the campaign, you’ll assign units and commanders to attack specific enemy battalions. Then you setup a battle, including special conditions and events and a small board created from randomly drawn terrain hexes that can be used to create desert, European or winter landscapes. Units are represented by counters on the board. Battle turns then play out the action as the game’s AI uses the allied units to move and attack while you counter with your German units which may be damaged or stressed, decreasing performance.

After each week, your units and commanders have a chance for repair and recreation as well as spending experience points to improve before the next week’s assignments.

With so many campaigns, objectives, enemy battalions, units and commanders, each campaign may be highly varied which gives this solitaire game high replay ability. The artwork on the numerous cards and the level of detail give the game a good “feel” for commanding your force and it’s easy to gain stress yourself over your favorite commander being wounded or killed.

The tactical battle game is very simplified. There are few differences between units of different enemy nationalities. And allied units of the same type within a single nationality are classified the same (a tank is a tank) though they may sometimes be modified in different campaigns.

The AI is very random and sometimes feels like it’s not making the best move. Specific questions have arisen concerning details within the game rules and there is word that DVG is preparing errata and/or an expansion to improve the rules and the tactical game.

Overall, this is a fitting addition to DVG’s Leader series. The campaign concept and creating and managing your Kampfgruppe provides an interesting challenge. Unfortunately the tactical system seems very light and sometimes confusing. With rules being discussed in online forums and hopefully being changed and improved, I wish I had waited for a revised edition.

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