For what it's worth, had my first BRUTAL experience with the game last night (playing solo with the Relentless Rituals suggested variant).
Early rituals had a theme: they all affected the monsters wandering Zanaga's lands - causing extra tokens to be placed, monsters to be discarded (with tokens applied to rituals) and new ones drawn, or changing the natural terrain where those monster could be found. This was made worse by the fact that I didn't manage to draw any sun tokens to allow new rituals to come into play.
Was this the first sign that darkness and death would be themes for the game? If only I had listened, perhaps it could've prepared me for what was to come...
It took just three short encounters before cascading ritual effects allowed the mahkim to awaken Var Ni the Nightlord. His unnatural darkness swiftly covered the land, bringing powerful dark rituals into effect and ensuring the new age dawning over Zanaga would be one of fear and pain instead of hope and properity.
My hero had fallen behind early in the game, so there was little choice but to risk higher level encounters. With only a single experience counter received (and even that as a reward from a monster instead of properly earned), this gamble didn't pay off. Wounds festered without being healed properly, and it wasn't long before the last hero in the realm was overwhelmed and defeated.
Daylight was forever replaced with a wicked dusk, and Zanaga cried out in mourning for the sunrise that would never come.
So what went wrong to make this session such a failure?
First there was a string of bad luck. There were many things that could've happened to make this easier - but related ritual effects, unlucky token draws (not seeing a sun token in the first eleven tokens drawn), and poor dice all contributed.
Second, I wasn't thrilled with my randomly selected hero. Annen the Trailblazer has special abilities that improve his movement capability, but all around average statistics for combat. Combat matters more to me than movement - especially in a solo game - so his powers didn't come into play this session.
Third, I ran out of money. Early on I spent my money on a cheap ally, not realizing that I would only receive 1 gold from the first three encounters I faced. Without being able to heal or purchase anything else it didn't take long for my hero to amass too many wounds.
Fourth, the Relentless Ritual effects are much tougher than I expected. Having twice as many tokens placed after each encounter isn't the only change - it also causes three omen effects when the primal god wakes. For Var Ni, this meant adding three new rituals, almost exhausting my green ritual deck because of how they were drawn. Seeing the game clock accelerate that way caused me to panic, only making the situation worse.
Over three games (two that were played solo) I've had three very different experiences. Two were very manageable and entertaining, while this one ended up burying me. To be honest, this game was still enjoyable... but it was also short and horribly one-sided. Some strategy adjustments will have to be made if there is going to be any success using the Relentless Rituals rule.
Mists of Zanaga has been worth the money so far. There is certainly a lot of room for variance in the game, and I expect to be playing many more sessions in the future.
Edits: Minor corrections after proofreading.
- Last edited Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:34 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010 4:36 pm
I can't wait to get this as it is coming in a package with DungeonQuest and Castle Ravenloft (whenever that gets released).
I thoroughly enjoyed The Frozen Wastes. I hope this will be as good.
Thanks for the review.