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IMG_0480.JPGOur monthly game session rolled around and Andrew was suffering from some alien virus or other and couldn’t make it. We decided that instead of continuing the N1 module we would boardgame.

We’d started a game of Shadows of Brimstone another time and I was keen to get back to it. Selecting at random I was an Indian Scout, for all that it mattered.

Rather than break out the plastic figures, we thought to try out the flats that I’d just bought from Arcknight. Here they are on the board, and I think they come up very well.

What to say about Shadows? It has excellent production values. Everything about it is a delight to behold. It has a steep learning curve at the beginning, but once you know how it works, play is very fast. In fact once we had the measure of it, it became pretty obvious that it was a fairly simple procedural game. So much so that I wondered exactly what choices the character has. As far as I can tell the choices are entirely tactical: where to move your character on the board, and when to use items. Otherwise, allowing for the randomisers, the game could play itself.

Is this a criticism? Not really. And I understand and appreciate why many people really like this game. It has a lot going for it. And perhaps if you had a group of natural story tellers that were enlivening the dice rolling with description it could be quite immersive, but for me the curtain behind which the wizard sat was a little too obvious.

The question has to be would I play again? Yes, with some reservations. Moving from ‘room’ to ‘room’ gets old after the second rotation. Because pretty much exactly the same thing happens every time. Sure there may be different monsters, but the available reactions are the same: roll dice; find thing; discover monsters; roll dice to kill or be killed. If this was the tactical resolution mechanism for a narrative role playing game, or a game that made more of the time outside of the mines/dungeons, then it could have a very sound place. I could easily see this as the basis for a much bigger story telling setting, with everyone just going to the tiles and counters for the battles.

Alternatively, you could treat this specifically as a regular tournament style of game where well versed players go on either timed or scored jaunts and built up a ‘campaign’ in that way.

In both cases this is where a lot of ‘mainstream’ role playing games have gone with tiles and counters and so on. And from that perspective Shadows fulfils that function admirably.

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