The Dark Souls franchise has always been primarily a computer game, Steamforged Games have changed that though with their very successful kickstarter to bring it to the tabletop environment, but how well have they done transferring the original game into a whole new environment?
Over 31,000 backers pledged over £3.5million pounds to bring this game to life, and that was without late backers and those who like me kickstarted it through their local gaming stores, I know one store close to me sold out all the store copies within hours of announcing they were backing the game, so obviously there is a lot of hype about the game and it is probably already on track for most successful game of the year.
Opening up the rather large and heavy box is akin to stepping into a new world as it is crammed full of gaming tiles and pieces, now I must point out here that there are a lot of counters and dials that will need punching out sorting and storing, which will take a little while to do. But on the plus side the card that these dials and tiles are made off is quite a bit thicker than normal so should stand up to fairly abusive gaming sessions, and the artwork is awesome and clearly printed again giving a very premium feel to them.
Dark Souls – The Board Game is designed to be strategically challenging and deeply immersive combat exploration game for 1-4 players. Each player chooses from a number of core character classes with whom they will explore dangerous locations full of monsters, treasures, and deadly boss fights. The miniatures that you will be playing with are all one piece jobs ready to play as soon as you open the box up, a nice level of detail on display across the board which is great for one piece miniatures as until recently they have normally suffered somewhat compared to multi-piece kits. All the miniatures are faithful to their original artwork and computer game counterparts.
Having been designed from the ground up specifically for the Dark Souls universe, the game introduces several innovative gameplay mechanics, from the bonfire to the Boss AI this game delivers an experience that captures the very essence of the original video games. Each enemy has its own AI Card which dictates his movement, attacks and who to target.
This changes a bit when you get to bosses and mini-bosses as they have several cards from which a deck is drawn and they will use that so each boss experience will be different every time, well it should be anyway. The change between the bosses and the normal enemies can really change things up as you know what the normal enemy are going to do so you can plan your moves accordingly and in a solo game pretty much keep out of the way of everything, however with more than one charactor I can see this being very tricky to achieve as each enemy acts in between each players turn, so if you have four players by the time each one of them has had a turn the enemy has had four turns so team work and planning ahead is going to be key!
Setting up for your first game can be very time consuming as there is a lot of things to remember and placement of pieces can be fairly critical to the flow of the game but after a few games and suitable separation of cards the time taken to set up for an encounter decreases.
Each game, even when using the same characters, is different as each room is drawn from a set of encounter cards which are drawn randomly at the start of each game, so the replayability potential of Dark Souls is huge. This game is designed to be easy to play, from a rules point of view, but it is also designed to be challenging from a gameplay point, which mimics the original computer games as they were notoriously hard!
I have now played through 3 encounters and although the first one was really hard once a few upgrades were equipped the game became much easier and as knowledge of the rules increases you can learn to game the enemy AI a bit, but get caught wrong footed and damn the enemy hits hard!
All in although the game has a big price tag on it I am very happy with it from just a solo point of view there are several campaigns to work through each with several scenarios, which you can play through with each charactor or even a few charactors controlling them all so I think there is a lot of replay ability in the game and that’s without playing the same level with the same charactors with different floor tiles and/or encounter cards, added to which there are more charactors coming and more variety in enemies and i would think new tile packs as well.