Games Gazette Logo

Review by Bill Ray follows the Victory Point Games notes.....

Named one of the Top 10 Solitaire Board Games by Box of Delights!

Named one of the Best Solo / Co-Op Games of 2013 by Space-Biff!

Darkest Night, by designer Jeremy Lennert, is a fully-cooperative board game for up to four players, set in a kingdom broken under a Necromancer’s shadow. Each player takes on the role of one of the kingdom’s last heroes (nine playable characters), each with a unique set of special abilities, just as they hatch a plan to save the realm.

Searching the kingdom provides new powers and equipment to strengthen you and your party, as well as the keys that can unlock the holy relics and defeat the Necromancer. You can acquire many powerful abilities—unique to each hero—that can help to fight the undead, elude the Necromancer’s forces, accelerate your searches for items and artifacts, and more. The knight is a brave and powerful warrior; the prince can rally and inspire the people; the scholar excels at locating and restoring the treasures of the past.

Prince

But ravenous undead roam the realm, and as the Necromancer continues to build his power base, he blights the land and his army steadily grows. As the game wears on, the Necromancer becomes more and more powerful, creating blights more quickly and effectively. If an area becomes too blighted, it gets overrun—and the monastery receives the spillover. And if the monastery is ever overrun, the Necromancer wins and the kingdom is swallowed in darkness!

Before the monastery falls, it's up to you and your party to defeat the Necromancer in one of two ways: If you can gather three holy relics and bring them all back to the monastery, you can perform a powerful ritual to break the Necromancer’s power and scour the land of the undead. Alternatively, you can try to defeat the Necromancer in direct combat—but be warned, he will readily sacrifice his minions to save himself.

Can you save the kingdom from darkness? Do you have the courage, the cunning, and the will to withstand the Necromancer and his forces? Strategize, plan, and bring out the best of your abilities to end our Darkest Night!

Polybag Game Components:

 
•    One full color rules booklet (player aid included)
•    One 11" x 17" paper game board
•    Nine Hero sheets
•    150 cards
•    111 thick, laser-cut, multi-shaped counter pieces (minor assembly required)
 

What's In The Box?:

 
•    One full color rules booklet (player aid included)
•    One 11" x 17" paper game board
•    Nine Hero sheets
•    150 cards
•    111 thick, laser-cut, multi-shaped counter pieces (minor assembly required)
•    Five six-sided 12mm dice
•    One 11" x 17" mounted, jigsaw-cut game board
•    One bright red, 9" x 11 7/8" Deluxe cardboard VPG game box
•    One beautiful box cover sleeve
•    One "Wipes-A-Lot" napkin
•    One charcoal desiccant packet
 

Credits:

 
Game Design: Jeremy Lennert
Development: Noelle Le Bienvenu
Map Art: Clark Miller
Art and Graphics: Clark Miller and Dan Taylor
Graphic Design: Jeremy Gleeson and Barry Pike III
Playtesting: Orion Anderson, Brad Bernstein, Deon Carrico, Devon Chenoweth, Nick Cuneo, Paul Fell, Chris Ferguson, Bill Fisher, Justin Fuhrmann, Catharz Godfoot, Nathan Hansen, Jason Allen Jackson, Barry Pike III, Otmar Schlunk, David Spangler, Sean Young
Proofreading: Bill Barrett, Shane Sather, Ian Wakeham
 
Now the REVIEW by BILL RAY (Games Gazette's Scottish Correspondant)

Euro Game #9    Darkest Night

Darkest Night is a Euro Game designed by Jeremy Lennert & published by Victory Point Games. It is a multi player co-op fantasy game of a guerrilla war in a small kingdom. The background story is that a dread Necromancer and his forces have taken over the kingdom after defeating the army and capturing the castle, the last of the kingdoms strength has taken refuge in the monastery where the Necromancer and his dead dare not tread....yet.  As he tightens his grip and builds his power for a final assault on this last refuge a few brave souls seek a way to fight back. Darkest night is a co-operative game where four heroes fight a guerrilla war to retake the kingdom, all players share victory or defeat and must work together as a team to succeed. This review is of the deluxe boxed edition.

So when you open the box what do you get?

  1. One thick card mounted game board 11”x 17” in two halves which fit together jigsaw style.
  2.  A very thick card sheet of laser cut pieces
  3. Six of six sided dice
  4. 9 hero mats
  5. 90 power cards
  6. 6 Artefact cards
  7. 34 Event Cards
  8. 20 Map Cards
  9. 1 Rules Booklet

Take care with the laser cut pieces as they are very thick and the smaller counters do not push out easily, also the edges of the pieces are covered in a thin layer of soot from the laser cutting process. A wipe is supplied to clean the edges but you will still need to wash your hands after punching out and assembling the pieces. The pieces themselves are robust and well illustrated although we have now pretty well replaced the hero markers with plastic figures from our Talisman collection. The cards also look robust and up to the handling that they may have to take.

The map depicts the kingdom showing the seven locations the players can visit (the Castle, Village, Mountains, Forest, Ruins, Swamp and Monastery), the lines they can move along as well as the numbers that are used to determine the Necromancers movement. Strangely with the boxed edition you also receive a heavy paper version of the map. Along the bottom of the map is a numbered track which charts the Necromancers growing power.

This game pits the players (who have a choice of characters to play) against the game, it needs no umpire or games master the cards drawn and die rolls control the movement and appearance of the Necromancer and his foul legions. The heroes have various powers dependant on type (Knight, Druid, Wizard, Prince, Rogue, Acolyte, Scholar, Seer and Priest) and more power cards can be drawn in the course of the game. They must together either defeat the Necromancer in combat or collect the four holy relics and place them in the monastery. To defeat the Necromancer you need to score 7 which with a six sided die is of course impossible, if your hero has a holy relic however he/she can add 1 to their die roll making it possible.

The sequence of play each of the heroes (in any order they agree to) takes a turn after all four have done so the Necromancer has his turn.

Each hero turn consists of

  1. Start: Follow any special start of turn instructions
  2. Event: Draw and apply an event card
  3. Action: Choose one of the following actions: Travel (move to an adjacent location), Hide (Refresh your powers), Attack (Choose a blight (Necromancers minions) and fight it), Search (roll and compare to search difficulty listed at your location, if successful draw a map card and refer to search result)
  4. Pray: (Monastery only)
  5. Retrieve a holy relic: Discard 3 keys to collect a holy relic
  6. Power: Use the action from one of your power cards

After all four heroes have acted the Necromancer now acts in the following order:

  1. Increase Darkness: move the darkness marker along the track on the bottom of the map, this can trigger effects as it increases.
  2. Necromancer Movement: Roll a die and compare it to each heroes secrecy rating, if the Necromancer rolls higher than the current secrecy of a hero that hero has been detected. If the Necromancer detects any hero he moves one space towards the closest by the shortest possible route. Otherwise the Necromancer moves along the arrow marked on the board that matches the score on his die roll. The Necromancer may never enter the Monastery for any reason.
  3. Create Blight: The Necromancer creates blight in his new location (creates a new minion).

The game rules were simple to follow and on our first playing we made few mistakes that were not corrected rapidly with the explanations in the booklet. Some of the card effects however did take a couple of readings to discern their meaning, the example of play at the back of the booklet paid real dividends if read carefully before you play (which we didn’t till before our second game).

The game itself is dependant to a large extent on rolling 5 or 6 on the six sided dice, this can sound bad, particularly if you are wary of luck based games, but this can be mitigated to a great extent by the heroes working closely together and using their powers to complement each other’s actions.  The game actually forces the players to do this otherwise you are sure to lose. We found in our first game that the killing the Necromancer option should really be a last resort at the games end, by searching and taking the holy relics to the monastery you are choosing by far the better strategy. You must as a group agree to your tactics to achieve this as soon as game starts if not before and the part each player must perform.

To conclude, this game is a well produced and thought out piece of work, we are now looking at obtaining the expansions, including one where a player can take the part of the bad guy like in most RPG’s, and would recommend this game as an addition to anyone’s RPG collection. Playing time is not excessive and when you are sure of the rules game play rattles along creating tension, especially as the darkness marker travels along the track sometimes at an alarming rate (beware the desecration counter). The games structure means that a game can be played in a couple hours easily although the box gives a not unrealistic game time of 150 minutes

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015