I received the game as a Christmas gift but have had a challenge getting it to the table consistently. I have played it periodically with my son but never moved past the first quest. He has, on a number of occasions as he borrowed the game to play solo and with friends. Recently I decided that it would make a great accompaniment on my frequent work travel, putting together a session replay for those who may still be considering the game and for others who enjoy it.
In the solo version, the player is to take the role of two of the provided characters in the game. Considering it is a fully cooperative game, there would be little issue with using all four characters should one choose, other than a slightly more complicated board state. I decided that it would be best to keep to only two, using the Warrior Priest and the Waywatcher to undertake all five quests in the campaign.
Quest 1 – A Foul Stench
The goal is to fully explore Grump’s Sump but, before getting to that location, three others had to be fully explored. The first two rounds consisted of an aggressive approach, attacking or exploring with seven of the eight actions over the two rounds. The only Rest action was taken by the Warrior Priest so that he could ready his Attack and Explore actions. The huge benefits that Waywatcher brings to the table include her ranged ability and that her Attack action serves to ready the rest of her actions. The next location took a full three rounds to explore with a more balanced approach. Three of the twelve actions over those three rounds were Rest actions, allowing for the needed recovery of wounds. Apart from one Aid action, the rest were Attack and Explore actions with Warrior Priest taking more Attack actions thanks to the Aid of Waywatcher. The third location was quickly explored in one round with two explore options. Warrior Priest did the heavy lifting with a timely Aid action so that the Priest did not have to pause to rest. The quest was successfully completed two rounds later with an aggressive attack, explore approach; the only Rest actions being taken by the Warrior Priest so that his other actions could be refreshed.
During the Settlement Phase both increased their gear capacity by one and exchanged their Basic Attack actions for the Advanced actions. This would help Waywatcher become a bit more effective with two attack dice instead of one.
Quest 2 – Tracing the Toxicant
Like the first quest, three locations had to be fully explored before the Poisonnarium was revealed which had to be fully explored. However, unlike the first quest, all enemies had to also be eliminated before victory could be claimed. Both Warrior Priest and Waywatcher began the quest bleeding and with alternating Peril phases requiring more wounds be placed, it was important to have a slightly more balanced approach than the first quest, employing more Rest and Aid actions to recover wounds and discard the condition attachments that seemed to plague the party. One boon for the party was when Waywatcher gained Armour which gave her more resilience for the current and later quests. This particular quest seemed to bring more enemies and though the Poisonnarium was fully explored in 8 rounds, it took into the 11th round before the last of the enemies were defeated. Three rounds consisted of one of each type of action and through 8 rounds there were more Explore actions taken than Attack actions. It was over the last two whole and one partial round that saw a focus on Attacks to clear out the enemies. The breakdown – (16) Attacks, (10) Explore, (6) Aid and (9) Rest.
During the Settlement Phase both upgraded their Explore actions from Basic to Advanced. In addition, each added gear with Waywatcher gaining and keeping Holy Symbol of Shallya which would prove valuable in the fifth quest with its ability to heal five wounds. Already having Armour (Half Plate) and Medallion of Moor from previous explore options, she appeared to be set for later quests. Warrior Priest drew and kept Greatsword.
Quest 3 – In Pursuit
Examining the boards, it appeared that this was among the more challenging of the quests. Snak Kraggle was the boss enemy and gained strength from the number of enemies in play. The goal was to eliminate him before he could get away but with a defense equaling the number of enemies in play, it was vital to eliminate other enemies first or else the attacks against Snak Kraggle would have little impact. The starting location was Forgotten Armoury so 1 enemy (Clanrat – Elite) was spawned to Warrior Priest and (4) to the shadows (later revealed as Ghoul, Clanrat, Skeletal Horde, Gutter Runner) along with Snak Kraggle.
The goal was to try to win by Round 3. The strategy was to attack aggressively and eliminate non-nemesis enemies in Rounds 1 and 2, while exploring lightly to avoid the spawning of an exhausted enemy from Snak Kraggle. It was helpful that Waywatcher gained Forbidden Tome on Round 1 while exploring which would allow (3) progress to be added at a cost of two health. At the end of Round 2, all non-nemesis enemies were eliminated and (3) Progress was on Forgotten Armory. In Round 3, Snak Kraggle was fully vulnerable. Warrior Priest was up first and with (2) tokens on Soulfire, taking advantage of the bonus and having Greatsword, he delivered (7) wounds on the first shot, suffering none. Waywatcher followed up with Aid, providing (2) tokens to Warrior Priest, readying Soulfire and placing (1) wound on Snak Kraggle. Warrior Priest exhausted Soulfire and rolled (4) successes which was enough even without the tokens to destroy Snak Kraggle without any additional combat needed.
Celebrating the destruction of Snak Kraggle, Warrior Priest upgraded his Rest action and drew a Legendary Fortune – Book of Prayers, a healing gear that would be quite useful in later quests. Waywatcher upgraded her Aid action and added a Crossbow to her inventory.
Quest 4 – Firepower
This quest was a bit different. There was only one location to explore and it could be explored multiple times with each successful exploration allowing the party to gain a Cannon, which would deliver four wounds to an enemy of choice when the character holding the cannon was aided by the other character in the party. It was decided that The Abomination would be best defeated through the use of the Cannon and Aid actions by Waywatcher. The strategy then would be to focus on heavy exploring with timely Aid by Waywatcher, trying to gain the Cannon and deplete it once per round. Attacks by Waywatcher would serve to help keep the other enemies at bay and ready her Aid and Explore actions while pinging away at The Abomination when it was engaged with Warrior Priest.
The first round went as planned but, it became readily apparent that more Rest actions would quickly be needed and were used to recover rapidly accumulating wounds. In the second round, the Cannon was claimed but not depleted until the beginning of the third round. It was recovered before the round was over setting up a recurring deplete and recover sequence in the following rounds. Wounds were heavy and the Book of Prayers was finding regular use along with Waywatcher’s attack ability to recover wounds so long as she defeated one of two targeted enemies. The Abomination was killed at the end of the Hero Phase of Round Five with a Cannon shot. The wound count for the heroes was 14 for Waywatcher and 18 for Warrior Priest.
During the Settlement Phase, Waywatcher upgraded her last action and gained Legendary Gear, specifically Trap Kit. Warrior Priest also upgraded his last action and gained Half Plate which allowed him to take up to four more wounds. Waywatcher continued to hold the healing accessories, one of which would become useful in the brutal fifth quest.
Quest 5 – Waaagh!
The keyword for Garrock Gorelord is brutalize and that about sums up the entire quest – brutal. I was a bit frustrated that I could do as well as I did through the first four quests and lose this one and lose the campaign. He was the biggest boss yet with some of the more challenging locations to explore and an ensemble of enemies that would be inflicting a fair amount of damage over the course of the quest. Garrock Gorelord would not be engaged until the final location but, that came out much quicker than anticipated as well.
The highlights? Eight successes when Warrior Priest was attacking in Round 2 eliminating two enemies including Odious Grump who made a set-up appearance. The next round, when exploring, Warrior Priest rolled 10 successes completing the next to last location in a single shot. The Holy Symbol of Shallya, Book of Prayer, armour and Waywatcher’s Attack ability to heal wounds were enough to keep the heroes alive as they battled the onslaught of enemies and, eventually Garrock Gorelord who was finally defeated in Round 7 with Warrior Priest’s first action of the round.
I was very pleased with the manner in which this campaign turned out. It was tense in some areas with quite a few wounds being suffered. At the same time, there wasn’t really a moment in which I felt that I was in immediate danger of losing out-right. The gear helped but, I think it was the hero combination, especially Waywatcher’s attack ability, that really helped to provide the edge. One of the nice things about the game is the opportunity to replay it with a number of different hero combinations along with varying enemies, locations, dungeon and gear cards. I look forward to experiencing it many more times.
Over the course of the five quests, attack actions were selected 50 times, explore actions 38 times, rest actions 23 and aid actions 18. The quest with the fewest attack actions was the fourth in which it was selected only twice, relying on explore and aid to gain and deplete the Cannon repeatedly.