It’s Wednesday, but it’s also a game day here for spalanz.com, as today I took possession of Dark Gothic, the new deck-building game from Flying Frog Productions! A pre-order from way back when, I’m quite excited to finally have it in my grubby little hands! So to confuse you all by posting a game blog on a non-game-day, here we go!
I’ve mentioned deck-building games before, of course. The basic idea is to make your deck as you play the game, rather than make a deck of cards with which to then play a game. There are now loads and loads of deck-builders on the market, the most popular, I presume, being Dominion. I have quite a few in my own games collection, so that always begs the question of why add yet another? Well, my friends, there are two reasons why Dark Gothic has made it into my collection:
1) I love games! and
2) It’s Flying Frog! Their games are downright awesome!
Well, the answer is more yes than no, of course. It’s basically what you would expect from a deck building game in the manner of DC or Street Fighter (caveat: I have never played Ascension, so it could be like that, too). You play a monster-hunting hero trying to rid the countryside around Shadowbrook of supernatural evil monsters. You have a starting deck of cards, and on your turn you can buy cards from the line-up if you can afford them. These cards will allow you to improve your starting deck so that you can go up against the monsters. Once three monsters have been defeated, the game is over, and the hero with the greatest amount of investigation (victory points) is crowned the top monster hunter. That’s pretty much it!
In case you haven’t realised by now, the game is set in the same universe as the company’s A Touch of Evil, so re-uses a lot of the photo artwork on the cards. We also see familiar faces in the heroes, who come from across the boardgame’s line of expansions:
The main deck is made up of gear, location, ally, event and minion cards, which should also be familiar to fans of the boardgame:
The villains of the game, however, have pencil drawings for their cards:
All of the cards are sourced from right across the run of expansions for A Touch of Evil, though there were one or two intriguing points that made me sit up and pay attention. First of all, there is a completely new villain, the Creeping Terror (villain card is on the left of the above picture) who does not have a place in AToE (yet!) but does appear to be based on an enemy from the upcoming Shadows of Brimstone. Also of note is the hero version of Charlotte Dubois, who is an ally in The Coast – perhaps we’re seeing a preview for a Hero Pack 3..? I really hope we haven’t seen the end of the AToE game line, anyway!
This is really part of the appeal of this game for me: I am a huge fan of A Touch of Evil, so it was really cool for me to see the cards for all the different stuff that I’ve come to know and love being reused in this game. Especially things like the event cards, such as The Hour Is Late, shown earlier. Whether this will diminish my enjoyment of the game as I get used to seeing the cards in their new incarnation, I don’t know. But it was an aspect that I really enjoyed for now, at any rate!
There is a fairly simple charm to a lot of deck-building games, and Dark Gothic doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It’s a fairly straightforward game, and I would probably say that if you are familiar with any of the aforementioned games, you can pretty much wade straight into this one without feeling all at sea. Indeed, if you’re familiar with DC/Street Fighter, you can pretty much give the rulebook nothing more than a cursory glance!
On the subject of the rulebook, however, I do have one minor gripe: it wasn’t all that obvious just how to buy cards/fight enemies. You’ll notice that the cards from the main deck have icons along their left side, as well as icons along the bottom? Those on the left are the card’s cost, and those on the bottom are the effect the card grants. However, I wasn’t sure at first if I had to meet every cost requirement or could in fact choose which one to pay. I think I’ve settled on meeting every cost, as otherwise the main villains would be far too easy to beat! It’s also not entirely clear how the Shadows mechanic works, but when you sit down to play the game you realise – as with the Shadow Track in the boardgame – game effects cause cards to be placed into Shadows, it’s the sort of thing you just have to play the game and discover for yourself.
But all of that aside, it’s still a very enjoyable game, especially if you’re a fan of the board game but don’t have the time/energy to get all those bits out. (My initial, one-player game with Dark Gothic to investigate the rules was actually over in 15 minutes!) There’s a thread over at boardgamegeek.com that perhaps sums up a lot of my own thoughts about the game, however I would cast them in a more positive light. While Dark Gothic certainly isn’t about to shake-up the deck-building world, I think the similar feel to others already on the market lowers the bar to entry significantly, meaning that you can pretty much pick up the game and play. A lot of games nowadays have essentially similar mechanics, but try to distinguish themselves with all sorts of weird and wonderful rules-twists, but sometimes that isn’t necessary for a good game.
So far, there has been a vague announcement for an expansion: The Forgotten Island Game Supplement, which I’m guessing is based off the island in Something Wicked. Not sure whether that will prove to be the model for future additions or whether a more big-box approach will be taken. But then, nobody seems to know anything more about this supplement beyond its name! (I have sent the company an email, and any news will be posted here forthwith!) For pre-orders, a promo villain was made available, essentially the Delion Dryad web-villain from the board game. I assume that she’ll also be available from the FFP store soon enough, anyway.
Dark Gothic is true to the Flying Frog credo of good games that allow players to just enjoy themselves, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing more of this as time goes on!
Buy it from amazon:
A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic