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Subject: Story Board's hot take on Tyrants of the Underdark rss

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Angelus Morningstar
New South Wales
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Originally posted here:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StoryBoardGames/
twitter: https://twitter.com/StoryBoardWebtv

Synopsis: You are a tyrant of the legendary Underdark, ruler of one of the great Drow houses. Your wrath is nigh and you will claim all the fell places beneath the mantle as your own.

For you to become supreme tyrant, you must have the greatest power when the game ends, as measured in points. There are key sites you can control, with an additional bonus for having complete control. You may also recruit vast numbers of minions, and promote some of them to your inner circle. You may even accrue power slowly through total control of key sites.

The game is a combination of deck building and area control, and you have two core resources. Influence can be spent to buy new cards, and power can be spent to put soldiers or spies on the board, or to dislodge and assassinate your enemies’ pawns. Most of your efforts will be divided between improving your deck and attempting to dominate the terrain.

Part of the game’s set up, will have you take two of the four available half decks and shuffle them together to create a distinctive deck for the game. Each deck has a particular theme and feel, with the Drow cards being cheap and streamlined, the Dragon cards being high cost powerful cards, the Elemental deck containing focus cards amplify each other, and the Demon deck drowns your opponent’s decks with insanity.

Commentary: There is always something delightful in playing the villain. In this game, there are no misgivings about the horrible things you will attempt upon each other. The nature of the deck you try to build is predicated on internecine conflict, brutal atrocities, and painful retribution. If you don’t like cloak and dagger vendettas get out of this game, because it can be as petty as they come.

At its worst, the game can devolve into a tit-for-tat dynamic. Eventually, you’ll run out of space to spread and you have to attack your opponents to dislodge them from favourable positions. Your key to victory are finding weak spots and leveraging them for advantage as you only have small windows of activity given your deck. It’s a war of attrition, and so a two player game can get very much about trading pawns until you run out.

The game thrives better on a multiplayer dynamic, because you can then redirect the efforts of your opponents. I managed to sway a strong competitor away from pressing their attack onto the person who was actually coming last because she had the largest presence on the board. Without political element, this game has a tendency to devolve into mechanistic trade-offs. You don’t want in a game of underhanded conniving.

None of the elements in this game are particularly original, but doesn’t matter because in many respects it means the complexity is pared back to basics. You have a good solid game beneath it all allows you to fall into a familiar pattern of gameplay. The theme is there floating over the top of these gaming elements, and you need to be alleviated from their discovery in order to soak up the ambience they create.

Verdict: I enjoyed this game much more than I excepted, having gone into it reasonably neutral on all things D&D. By the end of it, I was celebrating my Drowish victory.
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Dirk Meijlof
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Thanks for the review. My SO and I had a similar experience with this game. I hadn't heard of it at all but our Secret BGG Santa gave it to us. we played it last weekend and really had a blast. thumbsup
Very nice game.
And what is also similar, is that we too turned the market upside down. That wasn't the most brilliant piece of graphic design ever
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