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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Darkness Comes Rattling Review

by "Dirty" Jon Baber

Darkness Comes Rattling is a new boardgame by Wyrd. We picked up a copy at GenCon after having a short demo.

Like most things from Wyrd, the game is absolutely gorgeous. I am a total sucker for a really good looking game!

In this game, 2-6 players are cooperatively working to rescue the Sun from the belly of the Darkness before the snake can permanently digest and snuff out humanity's light.  The premise is certainly unique and makes for very interesting artwork.

The game board has a center village area where players can heal a bit if they end their turn in the center. Around the center, there are the four winds of different colors each divided up into 3 section where Challenges will be placed, face down.

The game is divided up into play phases and during the Dawn phase players move about the board generally spending up to four action points. For those action points players can move one space, scout a face-down challenge, remove a corruption token (which you get by rolling the dice) or give and item to another character repeating actions as desired.

Each of the Challenge Cards is put face-down on the board, and players must move to a space and scout to reveal the Challenge. Each Challenge has one of three colors as do the six player characters, these represent certain skill sets. A player gets to re-roll a die if their color is a match for the Challenge.   

During the Challenges Phase, players complete Challenges in each of the Four Winds. The players get rewards for completing Challenges, and suffer consequences for failure. To complete a Challenge, toss the three dice, add any bonuses and reach the target number. A black dice is also rolled which either moves the sun along the outside track toward its doom, or causes other havoc for the players.

Each wind can be angered or pleased, and this impacts the play in the particular area.  If all four winds give up on humanity, the game is lost.

As the game progresses, each region gains some corruption, which the players try to control. Each corruption token has a number and a color - this is the number on a particular die that counts as a zero. Thus, when you roll to beat a challenge and there is a blue 5 corruption token on your space, any blue dice that roll 5's are considered blank. As corruption builds, Challenges get more and more difficult. If corruption get too out of control, particularly difficult Challenges can come from a special deck.

Along with the winds and challenges there are four traders on the board as well. On these spaces players can acquire goods to help with the journey. Through Challenge rewards and using the merchants, the players are hoping to gear up a warrior strong enough to enter the Darkness and rescue the Sun.

Each player card has the player stats and a reference.  Special abilities are printed on the card and are very useful in helping players succeed.  Players should take note of colors and abilities when choosing at startup. As with all the materials, everything is beautiful.

Each wind has a unique deck of Challenges. We found the cards very flavorful, with interesting rewards and consequences.

As the Sun progresses in the Darkness, the players can eventually place one - and only one - player into the mouth of the snake. He or she is then advanced along the throat of the snake, trying to catch the Sun. Players left on Tallil (the game's version of what's left of earth represented by center portion of the main game board) can help move the hero forward by completing challenges.  The player can also advance himself on his turn.

The player that enters the Darkness then has to catch the Sun and complete a particularly difficult Challenge to save the Sun. If he does this, the players win. If the Sun reaches the end of the track, the players lose.

Conclusion: 4.5 of 5 Tokens
The background and story are certainly unique. The artwork matches the game very, very well. I thought the game play was pretty easy to pick up, though we did miss some minor points in our first play-through. We spent some time planning out our turns and really tried to cooperate fully - this is key to the game. It was really cool to talk about what options we had and how to most efficiently and effectively address the board. We figured out pretty quickly that managing the corruption is key to beating the game.

Everyone had a good time with the game, and I see strong replay value, as the characters are significantly different and there are quite a lot of different challenges. Making group decisions is very important, and we had a great time working things out. Having said that, the game does take some setup time and has a lot of decks that come with the game - table space is needed.

We really like co-op games, so this has a very good chance of making it into our regular rotation.The six player capability is great, as we often have sizable groups looking for a game.

The game box is very well organized (not pictured), with a slot for everything - this is very important to us.

This game is a home run, and I very much recommend it.

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