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Myth: Dark Frontier» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Detailed Review of the Gencon 2016 Demo rss

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Josh Derksen
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I played Myth: Dark Frontier on Sunday at Gencon with a couple other experienced Myth players. I have been playing Myth since the first KS, and have pretty much everything that has been released to date.

TL;DR
It's a very solid co-op tower-defense game that translates some familiar Myth mechanics well and that plays 1-4p in 90-120 minutes (though ours was more like 150 minutes). The rulebook is very tight and easy to learn the game from - they've definitely learned from the days of Myth 1.0.

I will be backing Dark Frontier on KS when it launches, which according to Brian will be Q4 2016.

Components
What I played was a pretty good quality print and play version. All components were on appropriate weight cardboard, all art was in place, and there was a fully laid-out rulebook on hand.

The game comes with the minis for the Myth alternate gender Heroes, and you get the Brigand, Soldier, Acolyte and Apprentice. Brian told me the Archer and Trickster will be part of the KS/offered as an expansion later. Each hero has a small deck of five action cards, and a reference card with basic stats.

All of the monsters are round punchboard tokens, but they're in the 20/4/1 ratio that all of the existing Myth products use, and there's a note in the rulebook about using your existing Myth minis with the game. The demo copy had a nice army of painted grubbers (orcs). The stats for each monster type (minion, captain, boss) are on a punchboard, along with tracks that increase as they attack the city, and that will eventually summon the boss to finish the job if left unchecked. More on this later. Each race of monsters also has a unique Darkness deck of 5 cards.

The city of Farrenroc that you are defending will be a really nice model. They had a 3d-printed resin version of it included in the demo, and even that one fit together pretty well. It's made of 10 pieces that interlock in a specific way, but there's a really helpful diagram of the whole assembly in the rulebook. You could kind of tell from the prototype, but they told me the final version will have more explicit pegs with numbers and that should be a big help the first time around.

The board is big and bright, and the negative spaces around the edge where there would be half hexes are instead used for various pools of resources or to mark where cards are placed. The center hex of the board will have indents to hold the Farrenroc mini in place.

The game uses the standard Myth d10s and Fate Dice (now in colour) as well, though the combat mechanics are different. Fate dice are still used to trigger abilities on cards, but the 5 fate dice are now a shared pool to be used by any/all heroes. The catch is, that the Darkness also uses Darkness results from this pool, and any time a result is used, that die is rerolled and then returned to the pool. The Acolyte can help with this by allowing additional rerolls.

Gameplay
Dark Frontier has a number of mechanics that work together in some interesting ways.

The overall goal is to either defeat the boss of the attacking enemy army (the base game has Orcneas, Master of Masters, and his army of Grubbers), or accomplish four objectives - three primary ones and then a final objective that is revealed when the other three are complete.

Each round represents a day, and is divided into three phases: Morning, Daytime, and Night. At the start of the round, each player programs an action for each phase, by placing their cards into these piles. The Darkness also adds one card to each pile. Then the three piles are shuffled individually and the Morning phase begins. As a result, the Darkness and each player will do something during each phase, but you don't know the order. When all three phases are complete, a persistent effect shown on the top-most quest card activates, which can cause bad things to happen if you're not prepared for it (you know about it when planning, but it can change mid-day if someone completes that quest).

The actions that heroes can program are partially unique. Each of the four heroes has a card for Battle, Travel, Quest, Encounter, and Fortify.
These cards show the primary action in a black bar with one or more fate recipes above and/or below - and each hero does different things with different fate dice to activate bonus abilities. They all have a unique mechanic similar to the way they work in Myth. For example, the Brigand is all about spending his Shadows token to do things, and then spending Guile Fate Dice results to get it back.

Battle lets you fight enemies in your hex by rolling a pool of d10s - one for each enemy present and bonus dice from any equipment you find. Each die result that is higher than the enemy's defense deals them 1 blood (kills a minion. Captains have 3 blood as usual). Each die result that is equal to or less than the enemy's to-hit number deals YOU a blood. If you're killed, you get back up at the end of the round (after the night phase).

Travel lets you move 1 hex around the board, often more with a specific kind of Fate Recipe. The soldier can also Battle.

Quest lets you make a skill check against either the face-up quest card and/or one of the objectives if you're in the right kind of hex. Quests get you a small reward and the objectives are needed to advance the game and win before Farrenroc is destroyed. Heroes have different ratings among the 4 skills, and the Brigand has the ability to use Shadows to attempt a Quest even if he's in the wrong place.

Encounter lets you find stuff. Each of the types of hexes on the map has a deck. When you encounter, you draw the top card of the deck and make a skill check. If you succeed, you get the positive effect (keeping an item, gaining an ally, resolving a good effect). Failure has its own effects. This is the primary way that heroes get loot and become more powerful.

Fortify lets you build an outpost outside of Farrenroc. At the end of each day, each outpost produces a resource that you'll need to spend to complete the objectives. There are other ways to get these (Quests, Encounters), but this is probably the most efficient.

What can (and will!) happen however, is that the board changes between programming your action and gettng a chance to resolve it. Enemies move away (toward Farrenroc), other players may need to spend Fate Dice you were hoping to do combos with, and so on.

The Darkness cards that are mixed in do similar things to each of the Hero actions, including destroying your resources and spawning more minions and captains. They also do additional nasty things if there are any Darkness results in your Fate Dice pool, so removing those is a priority.

Conclusion

There are some other minor aspects to the game, but that's just about it. There are a number of factors to juggle and the planning phase creates some really interesting decisions. Managing and sharing the fate dice pool is fun. The combat and character abilities feel like Myth, and each hero brings something unique to the team. It's a tough game (I don't think we were going to win), and it's got a lot of opportunity for expansion with other heroes, monsters, encounters, objectives and quests.

I can't wait.
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Judy Krauss
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Do you think the game will work well solo (using 2 or more characters)?
 
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Brian Torrens
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How much of a "pressure cooker" was it? Was there a constant threat of losing the game?
 
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Josh Derksen
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Jude wrote:
Do you think the game will work well solo (using 2 or more characters)?


Yeah, I think it will be just fine solo. Most of the twists come from the random (and unknown) turn order in each Morning/Day/Night phase, and what resources are available in the Fate Dice pool at a given time.

Brian T wrote:
How much of a "pressure cooker" was it? Was there a constant threat of losing the game?


I think it comes and goes. Certainly things begin at pretty high tension because Farrenroc is surrounded by grubbers in all the adjacent hexes. If they enter the city and are allowed to activate once inside they "seige" and each deal it a damage. Depending on how the Darkness cards fall, this is difficult to prevent without significant setup. You had better hope somebody planned to Travel or Battle later in the day, because trying to fight enemies that end up in Farrenroc when you weren't planning on being there is difficult to fix quickly.

There seem to be a lot of situations where you may be made to discard resources or exhaust allies as a penalty, and if you cannot your characters or Farrenroc can suffer damage. There's also a cap on the number and type of enemies that can be inside the city and if too many enemies try and enter at the same time, the city automatically takes some damage instead.
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Shane
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armoredgear7 wrote:
If they enter the city and are allowed to activate once inside they "seige" and each deal it a damage.


If 1-3 grubbers are in Farrenroc and the "March" card comes up, the Assault action on the city causes it to lose one Stability; not one per grubber.

If a March or Overrun causes more than 3 grubber to be in Farrenroc, the number of grubbers is reduced to 3 and the city loses one Stability.

Because an assault can occur first and remove one Stability, and then a March can cause the city to be occupied by more than three grubbers removing another Stability, two Stability is the most Farrenroc can lose in a single enemy action. Grubbers are Delayed (laid down to show they may not act) after an Assault, so they cannot move in to Overrun. Therefore a single March card will only cause one Stability damage to Farrenroc.
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