Mine arrived a couple days ago. Very nice. :)
What? Where are you that you already got yours???
Believe it or not it seems we’re first to get ours. The cargo ship from China was on time, customs weren’t overly grabby/holdy, and the local fullfillment company seems competent having got straight to work mailing them out. :)
Got mine Monday but I hear some people in southern states even got theirs last Friday. New Zealand won’t be far behind as they’re being handled by the same company. US I think the ship got delayed.
edit: seems our ship was always scheduled to arrive first, 17 Feb and it pretty much arrived on time. Canada was 22 Feb (delayed until 21 March), Europe 4-13 March, and US 7th March ( delayed until 16th).
I opted for the cheaper, “oh my god what a pile of stuff”-maximizing “get everything at the same time” option, so I look forward to experiencing it in November or so. (It’s not like I don’t have other games to get played.)
This is not fair. You guys are supposed to wait until after America and Europe get stuff before you can have it!
Thanks for the reply. I’m still mulling it over, although I’m not sure when the late pledge thing lasts.
Yeah sorry about that. ;)
Yours should be in your hands in around 3 weeks I’d predict. If it’s any consolation, the game is trash anyway*.
*Actually it’s fresh and exciting and I’m loving it. I’ve only just made it out of the the starter area but I’ve never really played anything like this before. As a solo exploration and survival game it seems quite remarkable.
Looking forward to hearing impressions on 7th Contintent. I think it looked interesting, but the No Pun Included video made it sounds like it is not for me.
Was just at the VPG website and noticed that the 2nd Edition of Darkest Night will be in FLGS starting next month.
The 2nd Edition does a lot of the things that Eldritch Horror did right, with an obvious variation on theme. It is very good.
I think it ends up being significantly more focused than Eldritch Horror, despite having added several systems over the course of the expansions first edition received (all now included in second). I like both, but Darkest Night just feels neater and easier to deal with.
I recommend Darkest Night 2nd edition for solo play with no reservations. I think it is simply the best at what it does.
Yep, the 2nd edition rolling all the expansions into the rules at once makes it feel really organic with quests and now mysteries (and clues!) going as a big part of finding the holy relics.
Also the 2nd Ed components are wonderful. The standees are a lot nicer, the game board is much bigger (and kind of needs to be with the expansions) and more colorful, and the tarot-sized, satin-finish Map and Event cards are lovely.
Yeah, it’s a huge upgrade from an aesthetic perspective. VPG put out some great games, but their traditional production values have been…functional…at best. They’re selling a sixth expansion for the original edition that backports the new material from 2nd edition, but I don’t think I could ever go back to playing that version at this point, just because the new edition is so much nicer.
Well what’s traditional for them now? They did the same thing with Dawn of the Zeds and Nemo’s War over the past couple years, all three games now have beautiful production values. :)
*not to mention the bunch of other kickstarters they’ve done recently.
Okay, you asked for it. :)
Do you like exploring and discovering new things? You know those legacy games, where you regularly rip something open to get something new? To me every turn in this game feels like that. The map, the story, the mechanics, all are revealed gradually as you play. It’s like everything is unknown and the possibilities are endless! There’s a strong point-and-click adventure game vibe here, made analogue with some survival mechanics to push the player along.
I’ll only show starting cards below so no real spoilers
You pick one (or more) of the characters, who each have 5 custom skill cards focusing on a particular bunch of actions that are in-line with their backgrounds and personalities.
You’re given a clue, which in this first case shows the general path to take along with some landmarks and clues for the journey. Note that none of this terrain is yet known to the player:
Cards often have story text on their backs, so you get to read a few descriptive lines before flipping it to see the art and consequences. Here’s the starting card:
Then you turn it over and lay it down, placing ‘fog of war’ cards where the exits are:
Note you’re not laying down random tiles here, you’re exploring and slowly revealing a massive hand-crafted world map (given the number of cards it’s likely massive, I haven’t peeked at spoilers). The ‘fog of war’ in each available direction costs nothing to explore/uncover, but the flip side of the card often has a random event that you must resolve before placing the actual terrain down.
It’s quite monumental. There are nearly 1000 cards and roughly 800 of those have unique artwork. Parts of the map art are functional and reward observation. See the animal tracks to the south? Hmm… Some have hidden card numbers, some ask you to solve a little puzzle and choose an option based on your deduction. The card you reveal can change based on quest items you find. It’s really well thought out.
Each piece of terrain has a bunch of actions (the white boxes) you can perform while there. There’s often a few per tile along with movement and any attached FoW exploration.
Each white box shown on a card usually leads to a bunch of other cards giving you decisions to make and things to find.
Each action shows the amount of cards you draw from a blue action deck to try and pull the ‘successful’ yellow stars. For the fight action below, you draw 2 or more cards and need to pull at least 1 success (the odds of this are shown in a table in the rules).
This blue action deck you’re drawing from is made up of useable skills and items that can be crafted and combined. Every time you pull blue cards for an action test, you choose one of them to add to your hand. Some of these are skills that can be discarded during an action to use their effects. Some are ‘blueprints’ that can be crafted into items and combined with other items in your inventory. Most of them relate to one or more actions, so can be used to manipulate results when performing those actions.
The inventory system is kind of clever. In solo play using a single character you can store four items, each consisting of a stack of up to four cards. Each stack has a ‘durability’ which governs the number of uses you get for each stack. If you add a new card to an item stack and it has a keyword that matches the top card, you get to increase the durability so the item has more uses, as well as more functionality for each use (since the entire stack activates when used).
It doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense thematically but it’s cool mechanically, because there are a lot of potential actions in the game so you need to kind of balance current priorities based on the environment you’re in, maintain the durability on the most useful items for the current situation, think about action specialisation vs covering more bases, and try to leave spaces for new stuff to be added.
So you’re drawing all these blue cards for action checks, getting skills and crafting stuff, but the catch of course is that this blue card deck is actually your health/stamina as well, and if it runs out you are close to the dreaded ‘game over’.
‘Surviving’ then is looking for ways to manipulate the number of cards you draw, increase the successes you get, and trying to move cards from the discard pile back into the draw deck.
For example a hunt action may reward you with food items, which when eaten could transfer 3 discarded cards back into your draw deck. If you first start a fire, you could double the cards that get returned - cooked food is more nourishing! But hunting and starting fires also take action tests too! Hmm, maybe you’ve crafted something that allows you to reduce the card draw and give free successes for hunting or fire-starting actions? Now using those items will reduce the durability of the whole item stack by 1…
As you explore you may also get XP cards. You can spend XP to purchase additional cards from a stack of ‘advanced’ blue skills, that can then be added to your hand - or more importantly shuffled into the action deck to stave off death that little bit longer. One neat touch with these XP cards is that each of them has a different survival tip written on the front, kind of like what you’d see with loading screen tips in a video game. As the character is gaining experience, the player is gaining knowledge - nice attention to detail.
And all this base cardplay mechanical stuff is like the moment-to-moment gameplay that happens while you’re trying to resolve the situation in the immediate area, as well as the overarching puzzle of the current story you’re playing. I’m only through the ‘tutorial’ area which took a good few hours, and have barely scratched the surface of the game really. But even now I can tell this is something special…
So, exploration - check. Inventory management - check. :) It’s also got nice high production values (bar the requisite small grey minis - I prefer using the standees), it’s quick to setup, and has an elegant save/load system built in. And it has drop in/out co-op! But I’m not sure how well this would go with others - as a purely solo experience it’s quite wonderful.
Traditional: adj. “existing in or as part of a tradition; long-established.”
I agree, they’ve done three Kickstarted editions of a few of their most popular games that have very nice production values. They’ve also been publishing games for a decade now and their BGG page shows 230 entries linked to them as publisher. Most of those games are not as nice, currently. Maybe by 2027 they will have established a tradition of production as good or better than those recent Kickstarters, but right now, that’s new and different for them.
Edit: I guess they’ve moved production to China going forward, so, yeah, we can probably expect this to be their new standard. But I still wouldn’t call it their traditional standard. :)
Either way good to see them having some bigger success! Especially Zeds which I think is getting another reprint later in the year, with the new mini-expansions.
Wow, thank you for the detailed write-up!
Mechanically it sounds really interesting, and I do love exploration. I’ll keep an eye out, for it. Part of my hesitance is due to the No Pun Included review making it sound like the experience is sort of crushed under its own weight after a while. Please do share more impressions when you’ve advanced out of the tutorial!
They might not be as nice, but they some of the are outstanding games. In particular, I have The Barbarossa Campaign and Astra Titanus and I think they might be better games than Zeds (haven’t played Darkest Night yet) if probably they have less replay value.
Those are the two VPG games I’m eagerly awaiting for a deluxe edition of.
There may be limited copies available on the Serious Poulp website in April/May, but other than that you’ll be waiting for another Kickstarter reprint as it’s not avaialbe through retail channels. Unless you like paying twice the price on ebay!
I couldn’t watch much of that video, it’s too depressing - I don’t want my naive enthusiasm spoiled just yet. :)