Bystrice nad Pernstejnem
All those adventures look incredible, even after we have lived them through. Comrades in arms. Strange group of heroes, renegades, who were fired from their heroic teams. Apparently, we lack charisma, we have too long fingers or happen to be constantly grumpy. Each one has his own reason, why he finally got into our gang of condemned. And yet, this is a place, which those beautiful and perfect heroes do not dare to enter. A pit, where we are going right now..
Assault on Doomrock is a board game, in which such a funny version of classic adventurers are playing the main part. Its author is Tom Stasiak from neighboring Poland, where game originated in 2014 as first game from Beautiful Disaster Games. And what a game! Illustrations inside the box are colaborative effort of many authors and their entire creation was funded by people on the platform IndieGoGo (437%, $ 26,000). Right now, there is a campaign running on Kickstarter campaign for expansion, which has already gained three times as much money and its not over! This is some proof, this cannot be bad game. Can it?
Game can be found inside a longitudinal, relatively heavy box, whose cover shows only our hands. And in front of us are silhouettes of three encounters, that are waiting for you each match. Whole entertainment consists primarily of cards, which come in two sizes. Fifty large ones and almost 250 smaller. Those are companions of a pile of tokens (representing heroes, monsters, but also time, lives and other game elements) and twenty-five dice.
Bigger cards are important, because 17 of these players create environment. There is also a pile of heroes (a portrait with two numbers indicating mainly their number of lives) and possible traits for them. Small card show not only skills, but also objects and events.
At the beginning of the game, players prepare themself a map. To do this, they will need large cards of locations divided into four decks according to their back side (therefore split into town, mountains, wilderness and Doomrock). By combining several cards from each pile, players create their way up to the most difficult location. Top three cards are then revealed and create actual map for the players. Brand new group of heroes starts in the city, marked with token indicating their position and each location gets also its tokens of secrets.
Along the way, heroes will meet three encounters with powerful enemies. According to Roman numerals, players select one card at random from each monster levels and prepare these next to the board. Likewise, they will draw one card of settings, which will show rules for the entire game. It also determines time remaining until the next meeting and this is marked by placing the appropriate number of hours tokens near to that card.
Each player chooses a hero card and adds a personality to it (trait). Furthermore, he will be equipping this hero with four skill cards, which are tied to his profession. In addition to this quartet, he also receives dice, life tokens and pair of tokens (heroism and second presenting his own character in combat). Then everyone gets a few pieces of silver according to the number of players to his pocket.
Game is divided into three phases according of raising encounter difficulty. Everyone is trying to prepare for it as honestly as possible by searching locations in the hunt for gold and items. Quite obviously, basic action of heroes is movement from one place to another. They move as a group and simply move the counter, but also have to pay one time.
Individual cards always contain several places, that can be visited even repeatedly. Each place has its price (icon in front of its the name), that players have to pay, either in coins, heroism, time, but even by revealing one event. Their exploration can be rewarded not only with money, but even by some tokens (for example shields, that serve as another currency).
In addition, however, there are sites, that allow heroes to get a real loot. Here, players will need a dice and result of a roll must be confronted with setting card, adding potential modifiers of location. Other positions allow access to merchants and spending those collected funds for equipment. Each such shop has indicated, how many and what kind of objects it has on offer. These are randomly dealt from top of the deck and players can buy them for their cronies into their joint inventory. From there, players can equip them to their character.
But with locations, this is far from over. One discarded time players token can also allow players to venture forth and reveal a new card from the location deck. But at the same time, it makes the place completely to the left too distant for heroes to ever travel there again. This card is discarded and only three remain lying on the table.
Location identified as a camp allow players not only to relax, but also to increase level of their character and thus get a new dice. They will come in handy, when time tokens are exhausted and fighting starts. Before that, each hero can modify his equipment. This is also moment, when each player will use its hero token and line it up together with his buddies into some formations. A group of tokens is thus created on the table, whether separate or merged is up to players. Same is performed with enemies based on their revealed encounter card. Also them will be represented with tokens. Each monster has its lives, armor and shields. Each race of enemies has its own deck of artificial intelligence.
Each round begins with players rolling dice in their possession. These then, according to numbers shown, may be placed on skill cards to activate them. But because each card has its own demands regarding value and number of dice, this is not so simple.Fortunately, each hero can re-roll his dice several times in order to obtain desired result.
Then comes enemy turn. One by one, players have to activate two enemy units each. It consists of revealing top card of artificial intelligence for this race and take actions, that this card lists. They are divided into a part for minions and then area, that describes boss activity. More creatures may join fight, or monsters can move and attack.
But heroes will not remain just standing and in next phase finally allows them to resist. To do this, they will use skills on cards, which they managed to activate before. As a result, each player is able to move and attack in various ways. Fights are even a drop of more complex role-playing series of effects or waiting for a chance to corner enemy or being cornered.
Once the fight is over and dust falls, everything may already be decided. When at least one hero has not been defeated and has at last a drop of life remaining, heroes can celebrate victory. It is even possible to quantify and score their achievement from bought cards and remaining points of life. Players can also easily lose during whole game. In the moment, when one of the three fights ends with their total defeat and none of them remains standing. This means, that lives of all involved heroes have fallen to zero. As a failure is also declared a moment, when players fail to arrive in the final location, where their main enemy resides.
Assault on Doomrock is an excellent adventure game, that knows how to get to you. From start to finish, it exudes atmosphere and this is no cakewalk for heroes. They have to fully concentrate on preparation and subsequent survival in combat depends on tactics. But this is group of hero scums. They are not afraid and work together. They have no reason to haggle among themselves. Instead, they are very good in cooperation. And so should you.
By playing a humorous note, it uses a similar principle as Munchkin. But this is much bigger game and more tough food to chew on. And even though, this is essentially also mostly a “mere” card processing. No game board is here, yet there is a battlefield. Just a few tokens, that is all it takes to fight. A good idea and you feel like a hero, maneuvering through the battlefield between groups of enemies. You can say, that Pathfinder tells the story, while Assault on Doomrock goes a little different way.
But those two or three hours it takes to play one game from beginning to end also take contains some storytelling spirit. The game can be divided into two main phases. Preparation, in which heroes search through locations, explore new ones and must cope with all the dangers, that come their way. And then a spectacular battle. Both sections are sufficiently long and players will enjoy them and the game still does not feel somehow stretched or boring.
Dice belong into such adventures quite inherently, so nobody can complain about their presence. Yet the very injuries are dealt without them and players will use them only to activate abilities. This creates feeling of more control. And its not a fake feeling at all. Battle itself is great affairs. Unique system of moving tokens on the table, always being either alone or in a group. It is abstract, but in a great way to push your imagination.
Game has an optional difficulty level, but even the basic one is generally set very high. Each role-playing puts you in somewhat different situations, because there will be different locations and especially setting and item cards will be different. As will be your skills. But the result is all about the final enemies, and even their number is big considering the fact, that each one needs his deck of cards and behaves in a battle a bit differently. So you simply can not predict anything, like in similar games, where monsters always move to the closest hero. And it works in any of the recommended counts!
Assault on Doomrock is a delight to play for all lovers of adventure and cooperation. Players can manage each their own hero, but its a little subjective to lead player issue. But struggle is common tactical battle, so each should have his thing to say. If anyone had concerns about replayability, there is currently running a campaign for expansion on Kickstarter. Game brings unique ideas, but their articulation into a coherent whole is what it does best. Assault on Doomrock is really difficult, but precisely executed game.
Original review posted on DeskoveHry.com with more pictures:
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