Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Darkest Night

Just finished my first game of Darkest Night from Victory Point Games, played solo with the Prince, Seer, Wizard and Druid randomly selected to defend the kingdom against the power of the Necromancer. The Necromancer spent the first few turns wandering blindly from Ruins to Village and back; meanwhile, the heroes searched for keys to unlock a Holy Relic. As the tide of darkness rose, the prince and wizard moved to the ruins to to dispel the blights there, while the seer and druid kept searching. The druid, in raven form, finally unearthed the Relic. The prince and wizard went to meet him, with the Necromancer in hot pursuit. The wizard was badly wounded but had his most powerful magic available; so the druid handed him the Relic, the prince used his ability to Inspire, and the wizard attacked with an overwhelming blaze of flame. The game finished with the Shadow level at 13; 3 blights in the vilage, 2 each in forest and ruins, and 1 each in the remaining spaces; the wizard had 1 Grace point left and the others each had 3.
The game rules were written well and unambiguously, and it played pretty quickly once I had internalized them. It had good pacing, with a definite sense of scrambling to fight off Impending Doom. However, the tactical options felt limited; during fights, each character had only only a few choices and usually one choice was clearly the best.
Generally, for each character, one tactic is better. For example, in this game my seer could Fight with 1d6 or Evade with 3d6. For most monsters, you have to beat the same number to succeed whether you Fight or Evade, and a failure has the same consequences whether you Fight or Evade, so it's a no-brainer to choose the option where you have the bigger dice pool. Not always--one monster had different target numbers, so I had to decide whether to try for 1d6 needing 3+ or 3d6 needing 5+. Aside from that kind of situation, my Seer would always Evade, and my Prince would always Fight. Which is okay, to some extent, because it differentiates between them, but the tactical level is not as intriguing as it might have been. 
I think gameplay might be improved by adding a third resource--Mana, perhaps--and forcing the player to choose "do I spend it now, when I really need it, or do I hold on so I have it later, when I might really, REALLY need it?"
There is also a strategic level, where you have to choose between strengthening/repairing your character, searching for the McGuffin you need to win, or destroying monsters to keep their numbers down to manageable levels. I found that level to be better, because you have time limits and can't do everything you want. In my case, with the cards I had, it was fairly simple--Prince and Wizard fight, Seer and Druid search--but the pressure was still there.

No comments:

Post a Comment