Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

Darkest Night (First edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Darkest Night: An Exercise in Patience rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Soueki Senno
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
This review is for the base game only.

I've played 4 rounds of this game. Two 2-player games and two 1-player games. I won 2 times and lost 2 times. The first three paragraphs explain the basic gameplay concepts, while the last three are my opinions on the game.

The game has you play as 4 characters who are on a quest to find the holy relics needed to defeat the Necromancer. All of the characters start with 3 powers which are mostly unique to them, with the only shared ones being those that grant extra dice on certain actions. While most of these powers can be used anytime, some are "exhausted" upon use, which means they are flipped over and must be "refreshed" to use again. Furthermore, some require you to use an action to activate. Speaking of actions, each character can perform only 1 action per turn: move to a location in the kingdom, fight the Necromancer's blights or the Necromancer himself, search for items, unlock a chest, hide to refresh powers, or pray at the monastery location to heal and refresh powers. After each of the 4 characters take their turn, the Necromancer takes his. This means that first the “doom tracker” is moved up 1, then a die roll to see where the Necromancer moves, and finally a card is drawn to determine the kind of blight spawned in his new location. Blights are monsters or negative effects that must be defeated in fights to remove from the board. Only four blights can spawn on a location. If a 5th blight is to spawn, it instead spawns in the monastery. Having 4 blights in the monastery at anytime means you instantly lose the game.

As a side note, the only other way for a blight to spawn in the monastery is if the aforementioned doom tracker reaches 30. At this point, anything that would cause the doom tracker to increase, including the start of the Necromancer's turn, spawns a blight in the monastery instead.

There are two ways to win the game: obtain 3 holy relics and place them in the monastery, or defeat the Necromancer in a fight using a holy relic. To get a holy relic, you must first gain 3 keys by successfully searching locations. These keys are then spent unlocking chests which contain the holy relics. Characters can only hold one holy relic at a time. Once you have 3 relics, the characters holding them must be at the monastery location. Once completed, the game is won. As for defeating the Necromancer, a character holding a holy relic must roll a 7 during a fight action. How do you roll a 7? The relic grants you +1 to the highest die you rolled. There are also some character powers that function similarly, but you still must have the holy relic to defeat the Necromancer. But that's not all! The Necromancer is only truly defeated if there are no blights in the location he is fought. Defeating him with blights present means you remove one blight and must fight him again until there are no more.

So how does it all play out? Slowly. Excruciatingly slowly. The two most important actions require dice rolls: searching and fighting. Locations with a high chance of keys require a 4+ roll to succeed, and most blights require a 5+ roll to defeat. More often than not, you'll only have 1 die to roll during these actions, which results in a lot of failures. While it's fine theory, failing a roll can damage your character and waste a power. Health too low? Prepare to spend 1-2 turns moving to the monastery, 1-2 turns praying there to get health back (health regeneration depends on dice rolls), and then another 1-2 turns moving around. Searching for keys? Prepare to spend 1+ turns getting a successful search roll and then hoping the card you draw as a result ends up giving you a key. There are a lot of different items you can get searching, so prepare to spend a lot of turns not getting keys. This can quickly result in long bouts of feeling as if you're doing nothing to progress the game all the while the doom tracker is quickly moving up and the Necromancer is pooping out more blights than you can defeat or safely maneuver around.

By the time you get 3 keys, you'll sigh in relief that the game is finally almost over. But you're wrong. With doom tracker likely more than halfway to 30, the only viable strategy at this point is to give the relic to the character who can consistently roll the most dice during a fight. They'll then spend a few turns in the monastery praying so he stands a chance. Once they're ready, begin the most frustrating sequence of the game: fighting the Necromancer. Remember, you only have 1 action a turn, so prepare to spend most of them chasing the Necromancer around and praying he randomly lands on you or stays in the same location. Only then can you fight and hope for that 7. But don't forget that you can't have any blights around or he'll move away his next turn, meaning another long and tedious chasing sequence.

In conclusion, I find the game highly dependent on luck where being unlucky means spending turns doing nothing significant or exciting. This problem is exacerbated with the more people you have playing, since one player can get stuck doing nothing but rolling searches or fights for most of the game with the only interludes being trips to the monastery where you waste turns rolling heals. Furthermore, nothing in the game feels rewarding. Defeating blights earns you nothing but a smidgen of time to complete the game, getting anything but keys in a search is frustrating as most other items are only marginally helpful if at all. At times I feel like the game is basically grinding, just doing the same set of actions over and over till you maybe win. And even though there is good variety between the characters and their powers, it always boils down to the same strategy to win, meaning there's not much to be gained by going through the game again.

Final score: 4/10.
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It sounds to me like you may not really have the hang of the game yet. The strategy mainly comes in figuring out how to improve your efficiency and combine actions to maximum effect. Playing more efficiently will also make the game feel more controlled. Also, if you're in a situation where you're facing bad odds and just chucking actions at something hoping to get lucky, then you're probably missing something else you could be doing that would help you more. Think carefully about whether there's a way to do it better, or if you should be doing it at all. Often it may be better to just ignore a particular problem and use your actions to do something that's going to yield a more reliable benefit.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Lennert
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
soueki_senno wrote:
But don't forget that you can't have any blights around or he'll move away his next turn, meaning another long and tedious chasing sequence.

Huh? Blights don't affect the Necromancer's movement (except for Gate, in expansion #2).
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Soueki Senno
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
Antistone wrote:
soueki_senno wrote:
But don't forget that you can't have any blights around or he'll move away his next turn, meaning another long and tedious chasing sequence.

Huh? Blights don't affect the Necromancer's movement (except for Gate, in expansion #2).


I meant if you defeat the Necromancer with blights present, he remains on the board, and has a chance to move on his turn.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Allen
United States
Madison
Alabama
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with the OP's assessment. This game just didn't do it for me.
All the failed rolls did really slow everything down.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vernon Evenhuis
United States
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmmm. While I can agree that this game is certainly not for everyone, I don't understand the reasoning behind all of your "chasing the Necromancer around the board". I've played this at least a dozen times and I have never chased the Necromancer around trying to defeat him. I've always brought the holy relic and all four heroes to a location of my choice (hopefully a location with some sort of benefits for me), cleared the location of blights and let the Necromancer come to me. This is really easy since by this point in the game the heroes are down on secrecy and the relic will cause whoever is carrying it to lose more every turn. With all the heroes there, when the Necro shows up and inevitably drops 2 blights, I have a fighting chance by using three heroes to eliminate the two blights and the the relic carrier to deal the knock-out blow.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
White Knight wrote:
I've played this at least a dozen times and I have never chased the Necromancer around trying to defeat him. I've always brought the holy relic and all four heroes to a location of my choice (hopefully a location with some sort of benefits for me), cleared the location of blights and let the Necromancer come to me.


+1. This is a much better way to engage the Necromancer. You choose the favorable spot, and if your Secrecy isn't zero already you can drop it by passing the Relic around. You're usually in control of the timing as well (unless things are going badly) so you should by that point be equipped with some useful items. If not, then you should be planning ahead to acquire them prior to the final showdown.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Soueki Senno
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
dboeren wrote:
White Knight wrote:
I've played this at least a dozen times and I have never chased the Necromancer around trying to defeat him. I've always brought the holy relic and all four heroes to a location of my choice (hopefully a location with some sort of benefits for me), cleared the location of blights and let the Necromancer come to me.


+1. This is a much better way to engage the Necromancer. You choose the favorable spot, and if your Secrecy isn't zero already you can drop it by passing the Relic around. You're usually in control of the timing as well (unless things are going badly) so you should by that point be equipped with some useful items. If not, then you should be planning ahead to acquire them prior to the final showdown.


I was trying to emphasize my two big gripes with the game: it takes too long to do anything, and the consequences of failing actions are too high. It shouldn't take 2-3 turns to remove one blight, and another 1-3 to recover from a fail. Doing so means the Necromancer has dumped 3+ more blights on the board, the doom tracker has gone up 3+ times, and you've taken extra damage from events or have your secrecy too low to remain put.

It's the reason why the game is easy, there is only one way to win efficiently no matter what characters you use: grind out 3 keys, get and hand off the relic, set up your necromancer attack, and win. Anything else is too risky due to the terrible consequences of failing actions.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cann
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Is this review only for the base game? I didn't see any mention of expansion content so I assume so.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Donny Behne
United States
Fate
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
www.punchboardmedia.com/geaux-gaming/
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quests and Necromancer cards vastly improve the experience.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
YM C
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ThaDoc wrote:
Is this review only for the base game? I didn't see any mention of expansion content so I assume so.

Agree. Should mention if only involves the base game, or expansions were added during game play.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Swan
Netherlands
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
To me DN has the perfect player turn time and tension. I like how you can do almost nothing while the world around you drowns in blights. Pulling out the Necromancer at the right place & moment is a game within the game.
Destroying blights helps you tactically, which is reward enough to me.
This game has me thinking about it after every play, so of course I backed the second edition KS as well.
I understand the OP, but I guess I'm a completely different type of player.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Boeren
United States
Marietta
Georgia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
soueki_senno wrote:
I was trying to emphasize my two big gripes with the game: it takes too long to do anything, and the consequences of failing actions are too high. It shouldn't take 2-3 turns to remove one blight, and another 1-3 to recover from a fail.


Probably the most common complaint I've heard about the game is one action per turn make it feel slow to some people. I see this as the core of the game, making you plan out your actions efficiently.

If it takes 2-3 turns to remove a blight and 1-3 turn to "recover", by which I guess you mean to go heal at the Monastery and/or recharge abilities then that just sounds like poor play to me.

While there is luck of course, you should be using your abilities and items to stack the odds in your favor. 1-2 actions sounds right to clear a blight, if you fail more than once on average then something seems off. Again, if the odds are poor there's no reason you can't just ignore a blight. In fact, that's a super important skill to getting better at the game. The more I've improved, the fewer blights I tend to fight over the course of the game. Instead I work on managing my risk and "defeating" blights before they appear by using those actions more fruitfully elsewhere to get to the final battle faster. This requires more of a mental balancing act and taking into account both the Necromancer's current position (to tell where he will drop blights next) and also managing your heroes secrecy to know if he's likely to be lured in a particular direction. Sometimes that might mean luring him intentionally to keep him away from a bad area.

On the recovery side, I typically average 1-2 trips to the Monastery per game total (not per character). It shouldn't be that common. I do recall that I did it more often when I was a beginner at the game and still learning better play though.

Paramount through the game though is that you should never be going anywhere to do anything. Movement is expensive, so any time you travel you need to be setting up multiple turns worth of useful actions which means planning further ahead. So for example, thinking "I'm going to go to this place to fight this blight" is bad. Instead, you should be taking into account what you want to do afterward. "I'm going to go here to fight this blight, then search because I specifically want the sort of item found there, then be in position to use this ability in a useful way, and be adjacent to the NEXT place I might need to do something" is starting to get on track.

This extends to non-movement as well. Don't refresh to get one ability back, wait until you have several. Every action should be justifiable as working towards several goals at once or else stop and think why you're doing it.

The point about expansions is a good one. I use all the expansions and I tend to assume that others are talking about "the full game". Playing without any is more akin to some sort of basic mode, the expansions should be viewed more as completing the game than adding on to it. If you're only playing the base game then please let us know.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Soueki Senno
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
jupiter999 wrote:
ThaDoc wrote:
Is this review only for the base game? I didn't see any mention of expansion content so I assume so.

Agree. Should mention if only involves the base game, or expansions were added during game play.


Apologies, this is only for the base game. I'll update the review to clarify.

dboeren wrote:

Probably the most common complaint I've heard about the game is one action per turn make it feel slow to some people. I see this as the core of the game, making you plan out your actions efficiently.


I understand what you're saying. While you can mitigate failures, the consequences of them are too big. If I fail a roll, and need to head to the monastery, or move to a safer spot and hide, that by the time I'm done, the board state is so different as to make most prior strategies too difficult.

That's why you end up doing as what both you and I said: not moving and grinding out actions. The only efficient strategy is therefore to grind search in a high key chance location, handing out any other items you get to power everyone up, getting the relic and draining all secrecy, fight necromancer, win.

I will say that reading everyone's replies has made me consider getting some expansions. I can see how more to do and more threat other than blight stacking could make the game a lot more interesting. I really do enjoy the character abilities, I just wish they weren't all used for the same strategy.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Niko J
Finland
Turku
flag msg tools
mb
Quests (1st expansion) or mysteries (4th expansion) or both really up the game. Necromancer power ups (3rd) and more varied blights (2nd, 4th too a bit) make it more interesting as well. No need to splurge for everything though. I'd be reasonably happy playing just base game plus 1st or 4th expansion.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
YM C
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
soueki_senno wrote:
Apologies, this is only for the base game. I'll update the review to clarify.

Cool. At least we know the scope of your game play.

soueki_senno wrote:
I will say that reading everyone's replies has made me consider getting some expansions. I can see how more to do and more threat other than blight stacking could make the game a lot more interesting. I really do enjoy the character abilities, I just wish they weren't all used for the same strategy.

Maybe you should add in those expansions as best you can, and do another review based on that.
I do appreciate your opinion, because I'm also on the fence when getting this game, until the 2nd Edition KS comes to live.
Now I'd join a group pledge for this game, but once in a while, I do have these game play or replayability doubts...
I think that's why designer introduce the spark mechanics...
Do play more with reviews as well. Appreciate that.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Evan Duly
Canada
Langley
BC
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Just my two cents but I've had a very low success rate with increasing my enjoyment of a game I don't like by buying expansions for that game. In fact I don't think it's ever happened.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Niko J
Finland
Turku
flag msg tools
mb
EvanDevan wrote:
Just my two cents but I've had a very low success rate with increasing my enjoyment of a game I don't like by buying expansions for that game. In fact I don't think it's ever happened.


I'd say that depends. His biggest gripe seems to be that all you need to do is grind at one place to get keys, which is sort of true with the base game. Throw in quests from the first expansion and you can't afford to just sit 'n grind anymore. That alone improves the game immensely. I might be biased though, I read reviews and when I got the game I did so with the first expansion. I just factored it into the cost and didn't think of it as an expansion per se. YMMV.

Personally, DN is one of those games I really don't recommend with just the base game. But I wouldn't begrudge anyone for not spending yet another ~20$ on a game they're lukewarm to either.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luca C
Italy
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I did the big big error to buy the base game + the frist two expansions together paying so much for the delivery from u.s.a. and now after 4 o 5 plays, the whole big box is just getting dust on dust; I was expecting a very very different experience and I watched also a lot of gameplays before buying it... but the graphics and the theme looked so appealing to me; and now I see that there are even two more expansions to try fix a very very boring game with more and more dozens of little components to increase the prep time even further...I can't believe it!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.