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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Boards & Brews at Home: Darkest Night

Tonight we bring you another at home segment to review Darkest Night, a fully cooperative, dice-rolling, Euro game for 1 to 4 players.  The game takes place in a kingdom that has been overtaken by a Necromancer.  The players will take on a role as the kingdoms last heroes, each with their own unique set of special abilities.  As the ravenous undead roam the realm, the Necromancer continues to control the kingdom and all surrounding areas within it's dark power and presence.  Read on to learn about this great co-op game and if we have what it takes to restore the kingdom to it's original tranquil state.
Last month for our home segment, we reviewed Pandemic and essentially Darkest Night is the fantasy version of Pandemic with several more mechanics thrown in.  Like Pandemic, there is a special role on the hero cards that each of the players take on that have different abilities to help carry out the tasks needed to assist with the game.  As the game progresses, the Necromancer becomes more and more powerful, creating blights more quickly and effectively.  The monastery is your only hope at victory in this game.  If an area becomes too blighted, it gets overrun—and the monastery receives the spillover.  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, although the Necromancer will readily sacrifice his minions to save himself.
The instructions in the game are rather spread out, a little misleading in parts, and somewhat difficult to pick up at first, but like most other games if you play it a couple of times everything will really start to flow a lot faster.  However, it's a unique approach to a co-op as it closely resembles a traditional RPG.  The theme is obviously really cool and so it delivers for a well-thought-out fantasy experience.  The artwork is very nice, and helps to keep the players engaged.  The tokens appear to have a wood burn finish on them which is pretty cool.  I've never seen that on any other board game components before.  The setting and layout of Darkest Night is very well executed and does a good job at keeping everyone engaged.  While Pandemic tends to border on more of a gateway game, Darkest Night is definitely not a co-op game for beginners.  Darkest Night is more of a gamers game.  It carries more density overall, such as more actions to choose from, more items to play, more mechanics to keep in check, and more diversity and ramifications when dealing with the enemy.  However, if you have a lot of experience with co-op games and feel comfortable with RPG's, Darkest Night may be right up your alley.  A small napkin with the Victory Point Games logo stamped on it is included in the box.  Strange, but no doubt provided to wipe down the player markers and tokens to remove any access brown dust.  There are two versions of the player board, one actual board that connects three larger sections together and one paper fold out.  The paper fold out really does not make much sense to me as it has a large crease that sticks up in the middle.  This actually interferes with the gameplay and is quite confusing.  We have no plans to use it since the existing boards and tokens in this game are very sturdy and well printed as they are.  I like how Darkest Night resembles and integrates some role playing mechanisms into a co-op game.  Claire and I thoroughly enjoy it even more for this reason.  The average game length is two and a half hours so expect a longer game when beginners are present.  It's certainly not for everyone and we have a couple of expansions to get through to further our experience with it, but if you're a gamer who enjoys a fantasy theme with cooperative, and dice-rolling mechanisms, then I would recommend you try it out!  

Darkest Night
Overall Meeple Rating: 8/10

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