Leon Scheuber
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In this thread I try to give a comparison between the old edition of the Catacombs and the brandnew one. I will be doing that mainly from a gameplay perspective and not so much about the new look and feel (spoiler alert: it is amazing).
In this post I'm only going to compare the original base game with the new one. Since the new base game includes most of the old Hordes of Vermin expansion I'm giving a comparison of this as well. Cavern of Soloth content I will leave untouched here and maybe will post a comparison for that in another post. I won't talk much about the Kickstarter exclusive content, only when I think it's necessary for the comparison.
Naturally there will be a lot of spoilers ahead so if you don't already own the new edition and want to be surprised when you open the box, maybe you want to stop reading.
Disclaimer: I'm a Kickstarter backer of the new edition and went all-in. I only played and owned the base game of the first edition, not any of the old expansions. If I make any comparisons to the old edition's expansions it is solely based on research I did here on BGG and on the Elzra website. I'm going to use the terms old edition and first/second edition interchangeable. Note though, that I owned the second edition.

Short statement to new look and feel
Well, Kwanchai's art polarizes and this is a good thing. For me it is the better looking edition in every way you can think of. It gives the whole game this whimsical feel, while still not becoming cute. The best thing about the art is that everything has it's own look now and in color which makes it MUCH easier to differentiate.
The boards are of high quality and the barriers fit perfectly in the holes. And they are big, so the chance of flicking the pieces of the table is less and even lesser because there are walls now! The walls are phenomenal. Never again you have to pick up the pieces from the ground, but with it comes in my opinion also a subtle gameplay change. Now it is a very valid option to flick as hard as you can to get some result, because the pieces stay on the table anyways. During my plays with the old version of course that happened but most of the time we tried to stay on the board.
The new player mats are just great, although holes for the health tracks would've been great.
Actually it would be nearly perfect component wise but I have one minor nitpick: The cards are kind of thin. I'm not sure why they decided to go for such thin cards. It's nothing major, because you don't shuffle the cards so often, but still...
One more thing: This game is a devourer of table space. I have a fairly big table but some problems to get the game onto it. Everything got bigger, which is good gameplay wise, but beware that you need a big table now.

Content
So new edition of Catacombs! The most obvious change is the art but what about the content?
The old Catacombs had 4 heroes, 4 Catacomb Lord, 13 Monsters, 9 items, 12 Wizard Spells and 38 room cards. There was already a ton content in this box and countless combination, but it is merely foreplay to the new edition.
The new 3rd edition of Catacombs boasts 6 heroes, 4 Catacomb Lords, 26 Monsters, 15 items, 15 spells, 34 room cards and a mysterious Antient.
This is everything you got with the old version plus a ton of extra content. Content previously included in the expansions as well as backer created monsters and new content especially for this edition.
So actually you get more of everything, except for Catacomb Lords which stayed the same and slightly less room cards. Other than that there is an increase on all fronts. Part of the Vermin Family and their respective poison which was exclusive to the Hordes of Vermin expansion as well as the long awaited walls you can now find in the new base game.

Room cards
I will argue that the biggest change introduced in the edition are on the new room cards. While there are less cards than in the first edition they are kind of more varied because they sport a new mechanic: Monster Metres. While in the old edition everything was fixed for one room, except for the occasional wandering monsters, now many rooms have monster metres. These things only tell the Catacomb Lord which level the monster he wants to use has to have. Other than that, the CL is not restricted. This especially weighs in the number of units he can use. If there is for example a monster metre for the 1. Level, it means he could choose the Sewer rats and has 5 units to command. In my opinion this give the Catacomb Lord a big advantage over the heroes, especially because many monsters were buffed by the change of the icons (see below). Room cards also don't tell you anymore which board you have to use. Only the boards for the Catacomb Lords are fixed.
Also new in the base game is the Amaranth Inn and the Alewife Tavern. The Inn lets you hire an unused hero as an ally, a mechanic which was introduced in the Cavern of Soloth expansion for the first edition. In the tavern you can gamble for some items and healing. The recommended configuration is still first the merchant than the healer but it is nice to have the possibility to mix the other rooms in.

Icons & Language independence
Another big change is the replacement of nearly all the text on the cards through icons. The whole ruleset was streamlined and exception were made much rarer. On the one hand this restricts some of the thematic attachment in my opinion, but on the other hand it made the rules much cleaner and more consistent.
The language independence comes with a price- a lot of different icons. There are around 35 different shots if you include all the different modifiers, the base game uses around 30 of them. Of course there are the basic shots which are easy to remember: Melee, Missile and now new and very helpful the non-harming rush shot. Each of these basic shots has some kind of color coded modifieres and on top of that you have different special shots like Fireball, Ice, Devour shot and even the teleport and summon action is replaced with a symbol. Another example would be that before the keyword Lethal would mean: draw 2 poison cards instead of one. Now it is symbolized by a little poison card on the poison shot for how many cards you have to draw.
Don't get me wrong I like the new symbols and I think in the long run the game system will only benefit from that but in the beginning it's quite an handful to remember. The designer knew that and included a very handy shot reference sheet, which is very helpful and very clear.
All in all I'd say the complexity is similar to the complexity of the original edition.

Items
There are new items and they ditched most of the class requirements of the various things you can buy. Instead every hero rules card show either or both an axe and a magic tome. These icons tell you if your hero is able to wield weapons (axe icon) or if he is a spell caster (magic tome icon). This determines which items you can buy. Some are buyable for all heroes and 3 have special requirements: The Berserker battle axes need a starting health of 11 or more which make them effectively only buyable by the barbarian in the base set and the barbarian starts also with 2 of these axes which replaces his rage ability from the old edition. The magic quiver is the only item which is class restricted in the base game and only buyable by the elf.

A new mechanic: the Antient
There is one item which is special and unique to this new edition. Vaiel's Urn, which you can buy for 4 gold lets you summon the liquid antient. Antients are a new gameplay feature. Antients are first summoned by the heroes and can be used as another disk to flick but after the heroes have used them in their turn, ownership goes to the Catacomb Lord and he can use the Antients in his turn. This is creating interesting decisions because these are powerful characters but they can harm you as much as they help you.

New shot types
There are some crazy new shot types introduced in the new edition of Catacombs. First of all we have the Gelatinous Cube, an actual cube, which changes it's shot every round by flipping to the next side and can do very powerful shots. Then there is the new roll shot. Put the disk on the side and roll it across the board! I found that a bit tricky but when you pull it off it is just great. The bite shot is a stun shot + damage over time. The summon shot is also kind of new. Now it is a regular (with an icon) shot where you flick the summoned disk which can harm the opponent. The summoned monster or Antient is active the same round which makes the summon shot very powerful.
The regeneration keyword of the old edition was reworked into the new regeneration shot which harms the opponent and heals yourself.

Minor stuff
There are cards for the Devour and Teleportation action where you can place your disks while they are in someone's stomach or in limbo which is a nice thematic touch. The gold cards are replaced by wooden tokens in two colors which has a nice tactile feel to it, though I'd wish that they also included sticker for that. Maybe this could be part of an sticker and disks expansion, because I would love to see stickers for the variant monsters, too!
The story is a bit more fleshed out. For Kickstarter backers there is even a (very challenging) campaign, but also for buyers of the base game there is a bit of backstory and a nice map which shows the town and the catacombs where the game takes place. You can look on the map where you are depending on the room card you draw. I think this is a great starting point for homebrew campaigns.



The comparison
Some terminology has changed. A brief overview to better understand what is coming now. Left is old, right is new edition.
Non-harming Melee shot = Rush Shot (new symbol)
Missile shot = Ranged Shot
Wandering Monster = Mercenary
Special Action of heroes are replaced by new abilities written on cards.
Incorporeal = Shadow Monster


The Heroes
All the heroes have names now and the story is definitely more developed than in the first edition. Gameplay wise the heroes are very similar to the old edition and not as buffed as the monster are. The only one who has more to do is the wizard as he has new interesting spells to mess with the Monsters.
There are two new heroes- Roosan, the Chicken Champion and Marorg, the Skeleton Explorer.
While the immunity to poison of Marorg makes him a good hero for beginners (poison is very deadly!!), Roosan is more for advanced players. She can't equip most items and has the ability run around like a headless chicken (4x rush shots). This can help to push heroes in the right direction, but it needs a bit of skill at flicking.

Elani, the Thief
Old: 10 Health, One melee shot and if she didn't hit a monster she may perform another Rush (non-harming) shot. If you kill a monster with her get 100 gold extra.
New: 10 Health, Melee and Rush, Special Rules: 1 gold coin bonus for each monster killed, can wield weapons

Oleira, the Elf
Old: 8 Health, Melee shot, Special Action: Twice per room she may fire an arrow (missile shot)
New: 8 Health, Melee shot, 2x Ability: Elven arrow (ranged shot), Spirit familiar (which can make a rush shot and nullifies ranged shots and fireballs), can wield weapons

Xoric, the Barbarian
Old: 12 Health, Melee shot, Special Action: For 1 Rage point he can do 4x Combo Melee and is incapacitated afterwards. He starts with 2 Rage points and can have up to 3.
New: 12 Health, Melee shot, Special rules: As an ally the barbarian starts with 5 health points instead of 4, 2x Berserker Battle Axe, which is basically the same as the the old action (4x Combo Melee) as an item, can wield weapons

Varesh, the Wizard
Old: 8 Health, Melee shot, Spells: 2x Drain Energy, 3x Fireball, 1x Heal, 1x Magic Missile, 2x Shield, 2x Summon Skeleton, 1x Teleport Hero
New: 8 Health, Melee Shot, Ability: Fireball, Spells: 2x Cure Poison, 2x Drain Energy, 2x Fireball, 1x Heal, 2x Ice Blast, 1x Magic Missile, 2x Shield, 1x Teleport, can wield magic items


The Catacomb Lords
We have the same 4 Catacomb Lords as in the old edition, and like the heroes they got some names, too! Game play wise they are different than their first edition counterpart, mostly because of the change of the icons. Also the Sorcerer which was criticized for having such an oddball hit mechanic got revamped into a „normal“ flick to hit and he is now the easiest of the four.
All in all I think that except for the Sorcerer all Catacomb Lords got slightly buffed. They were powerful before and now they are maybe a tad more powerful but a big part here makes their minions which got stronger.

Phoshar, the Dragon
Old: 8 Health, Pick one of 3 Special actions: 1. Call; Summon up to 2 Fire Spirits. They may act this turn. 2. Breath; Melee and Fireball 3. Charge; 3x Combo Melee. Minions: 4 Fire Spirits, Wandering Monster: Fire Spirit
New: 10 Health, Melee and Fireball and Rush OR 4x Combo Melee OR 4x Combo Fireball OR Melee and Summon Fire Spirit, Minions: 4x Fire Spirits, 2x Flame Wraiths (new monster), 2x Giant Scorpions, Mercenary: Fire Spirit

Hmotha, the Lich Lord
Old: 5 Health, At the beginning of your turn a coin throw determines whether you can summon a Skeleton Warrior, Zombie or Ghoul. They cannot act this turn. Special Action: Melee and Missile, Minions: 6x Zombies, 6x Skeleton Warriors, 1x Crypt Spider, Wandering Monster: Skeleton Warrior
New: 8 Health, Rush and Summon Skeleton Warrior and Melee OR Rush and Summon Zombie and Melee OR Rush and Summon Ghoul OR Melee and Ranged (Summoned Monsters can act this turn), Minions: 4x Skeleton Warriors, 2x Skeleton Archers, 2x Ghouls, Mercenary: Zombie

Vasesak, the Sorcerer
Old: 4 Health, Can only be hit if you draw the right card (1 in 4 Chance, which can get better), Special Action: Stun Melee, Minions: 2x Fire Demons, 2 Giant Scorpions, 1x Cerberus, Wandering Monster: Zombie
New: 6 Health, Shield shot and Stun Melee and Melee, Minions: 4x Zombies, 2x Trolls, 2x Fire Demons, Mercenary: Skeleton Warrior

Shargila, the Gorgon
Old: 5 Health, Critical Melee and Stun Ranged, if stun shot hits an incapacitated hero, that hero is turned to stone (killed), Minions: 3x Centaurs, 2x Minotaurs Wandering Monster: Skeleton Archer
New: 6 Health, Melee and Stun Ranged OR Poison (1) Melee and Poison (1) Melee OR Petrify Shot (instant kill!!) Minions: 4x Zombies, 2x Trolls, 2x Fire Demons Mercenary: Skeleton Warriors


The Monsters
I think that many monsters got a buff in the new edition. And while it is definitely a good choice to have icons instead of texts on the cards and to minimize exceptions, some monsters losing some of the theme they had before. Take for example the Minotaur and his Retaliation keyword. Yes, he is dying but before with his last strength he is going to crush into you.
Another example would be the Zombies and their Feeding Frenzy keyword. Yes you can attack but then they eat what they grabbed from the heroes...
The change to drop the keyword means that now the Zombie is a stronger monster because he can attack next turn.

Dungeon Family
Orc

Old: 2 Health, 1 Gold, Melee
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee OR Shoot, Level 1

Troll
Old: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Melee, Regeneration keyword
New: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Regeneration, Level 2

Giant Scorpion
Old: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Critical Melee
New: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Move and Critical Melee, Level 3

Mythological Family
Centaur

Old: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Melee and Shoot
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Move and Shoot, Level 1

Minotaur
Old: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Melee, Retaliation keyword
New: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Rush and Melee, Mirrors Ranged Shot, Level 2

Cerberus
Old: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee, Shoot, Shoot
New: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Move, Melee, Combo 2x Ranged, Level 3

Infernal Family
Fire Spirit

Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee, Fire Wall keyword
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee OR Transformation Shot (Transforms into Firewall), Level 1

Fire Demon
Old: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee OR 2x Ranged Combo, Unaffected by Fireball & Missile Shots
New: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee OR 3x Ranged Combo, Nullifies Ranged, Ice, Fireball Shots, Level 3

Undead Family
Skeleton Warrior
Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee, nullifies Ranged, Level 1

Zombie
Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee, Feeding Frenzy keyword
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee OR Stun Rush shot, Level 1

Skeleton Archer
Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee OR Ranged
New: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Melee OR Stun Ranged, Level 2

Ghoul
Old: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Stun Melee
New: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee and Stun Melee, Level 3

Crypt Spider
Old: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee, Shoot, Shoot (only stun no damage)
New: 4 Health, 5 Gold, Regeneration OR Move, Stun Shot, Stun Shot, Level 4

Vermin Family (which was part of the Horde of Vermin expansion before)
Armoured Beetle
Old: 2 Health, 1 Gold, Melee
New: 2 Health, 1 Gold, Melee OR Rush Poison (1) Shot, Level 1

Sewer Rat
Old: 1 Health, 0 Gold, Melee, Weak and Swarm keyword
New: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Poison (1) Melee, Level 1

Blood Skull
Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Fear Shot, Incorporeal keyword
New: 1 Health (Shadow Monster), 2 Gold, Fear Shot, Level 2

Pit Viper
Old: 1 Health, 2 Gold, Poison Melee, Lethal keyword
New: 2 Health, 2 Gold, Rush and Poison (1) Melee OR Ranged Poison (1), Level 3

Vampire Bat
Old: 1 Health, 1 Gold, Melee and Melee, Feeding Frenzy keyword
New: 2 Health, 3 Gold, Melee and Poison (2) Melee, Level 3

New monsters:
There is a variety of monsters never seen before in the base game: The gelatinous cube, so many people were hoping for and of course the backer created monsters. In total we have 7 new monsters and 1 new backer created variant for the Ghoul. I won't spoil these for you, other than by saying they are amazing and make the game even better and that they tend to be a bit stronger than the monsters we knew before.
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Thank you so much for this! My boyfriend and I played the original + Soloth a TON and I was really hoping someone would do an in-depth comparison. This is great and answers most of the questions I had about it.

I had been worried about losing some of the flavor with the switch to icons but it sounds like all of the improvements more than make up for some minor losses of interesting enemy/player moves.

The one thing I'm still not clear on is how the Barbarian's two axes are the equivalent to his rage ability. Can he use both axes every turn? Or is there some kind of limit?
 
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Leon Scheuber
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Cheesechick wrote:
Thank you so much for this! My boyfriend and I played the original + Soloth a TON and I was really hoping someone would do an in-depth comparison. This is great and answers most of the questions I had about it.

I had been worried about losing some of the flavor with the switch to icons but it sounds like all of the improvements more than make up for some minor losses of interesting enemy/player moves.

The one thing I'm still not clear on is how the Barbarian's two axes are the equivalent to his rage ability. Can he use both axes every turn? Or is there some kind of limit?


I'm glad that this is of some help
There is definitely some loss of flavour by the switch to icons I think- another example is the Crypt Spider which in the old version does two stun missile shots, which do no damage- because these are web shots of course. In the new version these are two regular stun ranged shots and each makes a point of damage. All in all, the new icon are great and everything is much clearer than before.

For the Barbarian: this is actually something I forgot. Items come in three versions: only usable once and then discarded, usable once per room and always active.
A familiar for example is always active, whila most weapons let you attack once per room (which makes little thematic sense but whatever). The Berserk Battle Axe with which the Barbarian may start with is only usable once per game and is afterwards discarded. So in other words he can use these 2x axes once and has the special combo action twice per game.
 
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Mandy Benanav
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Intourette wrote:
Cheesechick wrote:
Thank you so much for this! My boyfriend and I played the original + Soloth a TON and I was really hoping someone would do an in-depth comparison. This is great and answers most of the questions I had about it.

I had been worried about losing some of the flavor with the switch to icons but it sounds like all of the improvements more than make up for some minor losses of interesting enemy/player moves.

The one thing I'm still not clear on is how the Barbarian's two axes are the equivalent to his rage ability. Can he use both axes every turn? Or is there some kind of limit?


I'm glad that this is of some help
There is definitely some loss of flavour by the switch to icons I think- another example is the Crypt Spider which in the old version does two stun missile shots, which do no damage- because these are web shots of course. In the new version these are two regular stun ranged shots and each makes a point of damage. All in all, the new icon are great and everything is much clearer than before.

For the Barbarian: this is actually something I forgot. Items come in three versions: only usable once and then discarded, usable once per room and always active.
A familiar for example is always active, whila most weapons let you attack once per room (which makes little thematic sense but whatever). The Berserk Battle Axe with which the Barbarian may start with is only usable once per game and is afterwards discarded. So in other words he can use these 2x axes once and has the special combo action twice per game.


Oh cool! That's a nice, clear way to handle limitations on abilities. Thanks for the info!
 
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The axes are items which can only used once per game.

Edit: ninja
 
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Waiting for the inevitable crying about KS exclusive content!
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Waiting for the inevitable whining about perfectly reasonable criticisms of problems created by "exclusive content".
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I traded away the original because I felt it was too stacked in the favour of the Dungeon Master.

Consistently target 1 character until you kill them and then it's a snowball from there.

So as the Dungeon Master I would play to enhance everybody's fun and split my shots around between multiple heroes. But that made it kind of boring for me as the DM.

Has anybody else had this issue? As the owner of the game I got more plays than my other players and therefore more practice. So me being a better flicker may have some impact. If you've had this issue does the new edition make it any better?
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TumbleSteak wrote:
I traded away the original because I felt it was too stacked in the favour of the Dungeon Master.

Consistently target 1 character until you kill them and then it's a snowball from there.

So as the Dungeon Master I would play to enhance everybody's fun and split my shots around between multiple heroes. But that made it kind of boring for me as the DM.

Has anybody else had this issue? As the owner of the game I got more plays than my other players and therefore more practice. So me being a better flicker may have some impact. If you've had this issue does the new edition make it any better?


That's weird, as the DM I found it IMPOSSIBLE to kill a hero until I picked up the Soloth expansion. And even then I usually didn't kill them until the final room. I've heard 3rd ed beefs up the monster substantially.
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I'm interested in a 3e Kickstarted copy if anyone wants to sell.

Please GM me.
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SlikkRikk wrote:
I'm interested in a 3e Kickstarted copy if anyone wants to sell.

Please GM me.


I'd be interested in someone selling him a copy so I can play it and decide if I want it too
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dettmarp wrote:
SlikkRikk wrote:
I'm interested in a 3e Kickstarted copy if anyone wants to sell.

Please GM me.


I'd be interested in someone selling him a copy so I can play it and decide if I want it too


You might be interested in playing my 1e copy, then. It's a great game.
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Patrick Dettmar
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SlikkRikk wrote:
dettmarp wrote:
SlikkRikk wrote:
I'm interested in a 3e Kickstarted copy if anyone wants to sell.

Please GM me.


I'd be interested in someone selling him a copy so I can play it and decide if I want it too


You might be interested in playing my 1e copy, then. It's a great game.


I've been into dexterity games lately; I bought flick em up and dungeon fighter, and this one has been on my radar too
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Thanks for the comparison. For me it just confirms my original thoughts in that I do prefer the new boards/play area. However as I hate the new artwork will be staying clear as the game sounds too similar to the original to justify.
 
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