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Dark Deeds» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Roll to win... and nothing more rss

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Denis Maddalena
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Nottingham
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Being an old GW fanboy, the names Andy Chambers and Mark Gibbons brought up a lot of great memories. I started with 2nd edition 40k, which was layered deep with Gibbons' art, and you couldn't flip through a White Dwarf without Chambers giving you an orkish leer. I've grown up a bit, tastes have changed... had this game been produced in the mid 90s, it would probably be one of those nostalgic classics.

What I mean is, the game feels old.

Enough intro! Let's get to it:

Components, Art, Design: 8/10

Despite being a little box, there's some weight to this thing. Mostly it's because of a custom numbered coin inside, something like any memorabilia coin out there.

Cards are decently thick and nicely illustrated. Layout is clean, text maybe a little small here and there. The two decks come in card boxes, though if you're a sleever, you won't fit these and the cards back in the box. For me, this is a negative.

The box is pretty nondescript, more like an old NES game box that's describing a plot more than gameplay. Unfortunately, they chose to use tape to seal the box rather than cellophane, so while I didn't get any art peel, the tackiness was such that it left a "blister" on the back of the box. This was a second point off.

You get a small pile of laser engraved coins inside a smallish potato sack, which is convenient enough. I'm not sure there are enough coins, though. I ran out partway through the game.

The game comes with a nice, thin playmat that only accommodates the Street cards. It's a nice touch, but likely a big part of the hefty pricetag, so would have been better as an optional purchase.

Gameplay: 3/10

After a quick layout, players roll a die and become the Most Suspicious (and first) Player.

This title is kind of important, and changes hands a lot. Mostly it means you're likely to get something stolen from you.

At the beginning of your turn you'll draw one of two face-up Tavern cards and replace it from the top of the deck, or blind draw one from the deck and discard both the face-up cards, replacing them. This isn't a bad bit of choice, as you can try to actively get rid of something visible that could hurt you... but you might leave yourself open to another card coming up, while opponents doing blind draws means you don't really know what to expect.

The Tavern is filled with Loot, Dark Deeds, and Plots. Loot are semi-permanent items you can play after successfully attacking particular citizens; Artisans give Artisan loot, Merchants give Merchant loot, etc. Loot usually gives you a bonus to either Strength or Cunning, which helps to consistently take down bigger guys or boost your chances for good loot. Dark Deeds are goals to achieve for additional victory points, primarily by killing X, sometimes under Y circumstance, and if you fail to perform, are worth negative points at the end of the game. Plots are one-shot effects that are the primary means of interacting with your fellow players. They let you steal from them, shove suspicion onto them, counter an opponent's plot, and a few other things.

Having drawn a Tavern card, you'll examine them and look at the six Street cards laid out. The Street cards come from a deck that fills left to right, and are either Citizens, Nemesis, or Guards. You can choose to attack any card on the street. Generally speaking, to attack one you'll roll a d12, add either your Strength or Cunning, and must equal or beat their level to claim the card. Universally you'll also gain points and Suspicion equal to the point value in the lower right corner.

Citizens are the ones you need to hunt to get your Loot cards into play. After rolling and adding Cunning, subtract the citizen's level from your total and you can play a Loot with value equal or less than this difference. If you score less than the Citizen's level, they don't notice you, and if you do roll equal to their level but not high enough to play a Loot card, you only get Suspicion for your trouble.

Nemesis are usually the targets of your Dark Deeds cards. By rolling a d12 + Strength you'll kill them, and if you have the correct Dark Deed in hand, you can discard it for additional points. Interestingly, if a Nemesis "scrolls" off the Street during the refresh phase of your turn, they sit in front of you and only you can attack them from that point on. They don't go anywhere until you kill them or the game ends. If you fail to kill one in front of you by the end, Nemesis are worth negative points.

Guards are mostly concerned with impeding your progress. Your attacks are made by moving in from the right side of the Street. For each Guard in your way you'll need to sneak past them by rolling a d12 + Cunning and beat the Guard's Perception. If you fail, your don't reach your target and the guard starts chasing you, similar to how the Nemesis sits in your play area. If you have 10 or more Suspicion when a Guard chases you, you get arrested, losing all Suspicion and Guards, but also any Loot you picked up. If you aren't quite suspicious enough, they'll sit in front of you, and every time you attempt a Street action or try to kill a Nemesis in front of you, you have to sneak past them first. You can also attack Guards by rolling d12 + Strength, whether in the street in your play area.

Finally, if you've got too much heat on you or you fail a Sneak, you can Lay Low, discarding a Loot and as many Suspicion as the value of that Loot.

At the end of the turn, if the slot furthest from the Street deck is full, that card is discarded (unless it's a Nemesis, which attaches itself to the current player). All cards get shifted down and empty spaces are filled in.


This continues until the Street playmat is fully empty. Players add up all points in their discard, subtract points equal to the Dark Deeds in their hands and Nemesis in front of them, and someone is the winner.

Final Thoughts:

Well, like I said, the game feels old.

Roll-to-win is the style here, with every success dictated by your ability to roll well. Useful loot is often 4+ value, so you'll need to roll a 5 to get something basic like a Crossbow from the lowest dregs of Citizenry, while a slew of 5 value dudes means you better hit than 9+. And while the rulebook is quite clear, it feels weird to me that the best loot is most easily acquired from the 1-value peons.
If it can acquire some Loot early on, you'll have a significantly easier time on your robbing/murdering spree.

Interaction is rare and hardly effective. The Tavern is littered with Sod Off, which causes another plot targeting you to fail. If you do get these things off, they might transfer 3 suspicion to the other guy, or steal one of his Loot... nothing particularly noteworthy, and in some cases, just screws someone having poor dice rolls even harder.

Tavern cards are pretty repetitious, with several of each card floating around in the deck. If you missed your chance on the Master Sword earlier, don't worry... it's bound to show up again. While redundancy is kind of good for balance, the limited variety means it gets repetitive really fast. It feels pretty out of place in a game this light.

Thankfully the game is quite quick, as you're cycling at least one card every turn, and more if you attack something that isn't about to fall off the board. You can use the card cycling to your advantage if you want to get a Nemesis to target you or a particular opponent with some decent guesswork, which is probably the most interesting thing going on here.

At the end of the day, it feels like this would appeal to that same audience who likes Boss Monster for more than the theme, probably more those 30+ dudes who quote a lot of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and are more into RPGs and/or miniatures than board games. It plays in 45 minutes, give or take 15, so you can slap it on the table and off again way faster than Munchkin.

But the price tag is a serious hindrance here. For the same price you could afford a "real" game, or 2+ Iello small-box games that are universally better and smarter.

So let's revise the target audience a bit:

If you're one of those guys who thinks the original Warhammer Quest is still incredible by today's standards, and would be willing to pay current aftermarket prices, Dark Deeds might be up your alley.

For everyone else, there's better and cheaper beer and pretzels to be had elsewhere.

Final Verdict: 5.5/10 (mostly because it's pretty)
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Brett Smith
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I played this the other weekend and agree its very much a luck fest of a game no real strategy to be had, I feel like the game designer said instead of play testing this game lets just balance it out by adding luck on top of luck on top of luck....
 
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Nick Johnson
United States
Coon Rapids
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eypyeash wrote:
those 30+ dudes who quote a lot of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and are more into RPGs and/or miniatures than board games.


I resemble that remark.

After one play through I would have to agree with your review. It felt more like a $20 game in a $60 box. They should drop the production and make it more affordable.

Also the "Game Mode" card was dumb. Basically giving name to the number of players in the game. Nothing was different it was just the same game with a different number of players.
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Denis Maddalena
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smith2332 wrote:
I played this the other weekend and agree its very much a luck fest of a game no real strategy to be had, I feel like the game designer said instead of play testing this game lets just balance it out by adding luck on top of luck on top of luck....


Eh, I think it was one of those cases where the game is a reflection of intent and/or design mentality. When you reach back to the "good old days", dice rolling with such a pass/fail approach was more acceptable. You used these sorts of games just to slap each other around a bit, call each other names, before you get into the chit-and-counter or tabletop wargame stuff.

This little remark at the bottom of the official webstore entry, "Dark Deeds is a next generation premium quality game," feels ridiculous at a time when fresh gameplay is flying in from all directions.

Grodd1016 wrote:
I resemble that remark.


Heh, I figured I'd find a few of you out there.

I think the only reason the Game Mode card exists is to say "try it with different numbers of players, totally different experience!"

By the way, the various convention-exclusive content items do add to the interactivity of the game (flipping a coin to potentially shove suspicion onto someone quite often), though does nothing to solve the core gameplay issues.
 
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Nick Johnson
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Coon Rapids
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One thing we found in our game was that getting arrested could actually help you if you didn't have any loot. One guy had 14 suspicion and no loot so he just let the guard arrest him to clear the suspicion. It seems like there should be more of a consequence for getting arrested. We talked about making a house rule that you also lose your highest VP card, or 1/2 your VP. Then you have to deal with the guards before they leave the street.
 
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Denis Maddalena
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Grodd1016 wrote:
One thing we found in our game was that getting arrested could actually help you if you didn't have any loot. One guy had 14 suspicion and no loot so he just let the guard arrest him to clear the suspicion. It seems like there should be more of a consequence for getting arrested. We talked about making a house rule that you also lose your highest VP card, or 1/2 your VP. Then you have to deal with the guards before they leave the street.


I kinda think it was developed as a way to clear suspicion faster than Lay Low, and is "easy" on you in case of the guy who gets hosed by bad dice all game.

I thought it was also weird you could use your crossbow to shoot past guards, but use your full Strength bonuses... stapling your Master Sword to a bolt, I guess? Killing a Nemesis like the Prince this way gets you auto-arrested shooting past a guard, but like you said, arrests aren't too huge a deal. It's worse if you've already taken out a lot of the little guys and need to roll really high to get any more gear out.
 
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Dennis Engilis
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A friend of mine who owns an FLGS played his demo copy. The next day at the store he had his employees mark it down from $60 to $40 and the two copies he ordered still sit on the shelf unsold. I thought he loaned me his demo copy and a few days later when I asked him when he wanted it back he said, "Never!" It does have some nice art and components. I'll give it that.
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Chad Denton
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Grodd1016 wrote:


After one play through I would have to agree with your review. It felt more like a $20 game in a $60 box. They should drop the production and make it more affordable.


I picked up a "used" copy at my FLGS for $20 today. I say "used" because while it was open the mat was still sealed so I'm not sure if it was ever actually played. I hoped it's worth that, or that I can at least break even if I decide to unload it.
 
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Denis Maddalena
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So long as you're expecting a slap fight and nothing strategic, 20 bucks ain't bad. The art is fantastic, at least.

Common_Hero wrote:
Grodd1016 wrote:


After one play through I would have to agree with your review. It felt more like a $20 game in a $60 box. They should drop the production and make it more affordable.


I picked up a "used" copy at my FLGS for $20 today. I say "used" because while it was open the mat was still sealed so I'm not sure if it was ever actually played. I hoped it's worth that, or that I can at least break even if I decide to unload it.
 
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