Playing in the Dark

Last night’s bundles really pushed us forwards – thank you all! Without pausing for breath you sailed through a whole new mini-expansion that makes Darkness a playable role. Well, now that the light of day has dawned and we can talk about Darkness without fear of her overhearing, I thought it was time to discuss what you’ve earned.  

Cutting a Fine Figure Each copy of the core game now comes with a gorgeous additional miniature to allow Darkness to upgrade from being a mere AI opponent to become a fully playable character. She is beautifully sculpted, and very tall at 100mm – even taller than the already impressive Virtues!

Of course, the Darkness miniature does not come alone. The expansion also includes her dashboard and 3 extra Fate dice for her to visit unpleasantness on poor old Solomon Kane.  

As Darkness is the enemy of the Virtues and of Solomon Kane, playing Darkness means that a game with her in is no longer a full co-op. If you choose this mode of play then the game becomes a 1 vs Many games, with Darkness as the 1. The Many collectively play their normal cooperative game. The difference is simply that a real person takes control of their opponent instead of the Many fighting against the game itself.  

You can play 1 vs Many with any player count that you can play co-op, and more. This mode ranges from 1-1 to 1-4 players. And yes, this does mean that the game just expanded from a 1-4 player game to a 1-5 player game. Two benefits for the price of one!

On the Table  

The next thing you’ll want to know is how does Darkness plays? Well, we’re still testing, but I can tell you where it is now.  

Originally, in very early tests, the Darkness player simply used the Darkness deck, taking the number of cards that were allocated for that Chapter and using them as her hand. If Nightmare cards were added, then they went into this hand as they would have gone into the Darkness deck for the AI. It was very simple, easily dovetailed with the core game, and I rather liked it. I particularly liked playing Darkness like this. Unfortunately, it was also hugely more difficult for the Virtues and rather upset the balance, so it had to change.

Now Darkness cards aren’t supposed to be helpful for the Virtues as they control their enemies. However, in a normal game they come out at random, so the enemies aren’t always doing their absolute worst to cripple the player’s plans. When a Darkness player gets involved and can choose the order the Darkness cards are used, they become much, much more deadly. Each is played at the optimally unhelpful moment, meaning that the players never get lucky. Something needed to change.

The most important step was to modify the Darkness player’s rules so that they had more restrictions on their actions. To do this I largely used the same system that restricts the Virtues. With a dashboard and dice to buy the Darkness cards (meaning that we needed to add a cost on each card), the Darkness player could no longer do whatever they wanted at any time. Instead, they had to manage some scarce resources, and plan ahead. So, Darkness rolls dice to get resources and spends them on actions, just like her opponents.  

One question that has come up is why I chose to reuse the existing Darkness deck rather than make a new one for Darkness. The answer is not complex. We’ve already put loads of time and effort into building a deck that controls the many different types of Darkness creatures in every scenario across the whole game. That has taken ages to do once, so why start all over again? Mirroring the Virtues exactly seemed unnecessary when we could already do it all (in a balanced way) with what we had. Similarly, the Darkness deck for each Chapter is the timer, and this remains true when Darkness is a player. Each card is single-use and is removed from the game once it has been played. This makes the job of planning and sequencing them even more interesting, as you don’t get second tries – each use must be as perfect as you can make it.

The Darkness miniature also takes part in the game, moving about on the board, inflicting her malign influence on Kane’s best efforts. She interacts with the Virtues in much the same way that they interact with the Shadows. Her rules read as follows:  

If Darkness moves into the same area as one or more Virtues, return all Virtues in that area to their respective dashboards.  

If a Virtue wants to move into the same area as Darkness, the Darkness player has a choice. Either:  

  • Allow the Virtue to move in. Both Virtue and Darkness are returned to their respective dashboards.  
  • Hold their ground. The Virtue cannot move into the area. Return it to the last area it was in before the one containing Darkness. Its move ends. The danger is reduced by 1.

Darkness also has an aura, like the Virtues and her Shadow minions. This reduces all tests by the current maximum number of Shadows allowed by the Danger track. This makes her a particularly nasty sort of über Shadow.

One Dashboard to Rule them All  

Even though Darkness is using the existing deck, they have the addition of a dashboard, and that gives them some new options. Firstly, as Darkness has no friends they have no need for slots to place donated dice. They get no presents. What Darkness can get is plunder.  

Every time that a Darkness card says to remove a donated or reserve dice from a Virtue, it goes to the Darkness reserve instead of the supply. Yes, Darkness has a reserve. This works just the same as Virtue’s, though it is twice the size at 4 slots instead of 2. This increased size allows the Darkness player to plan more wisely, and it gives some interesting choices. How long do you hold onto dice in order to make the big plays?

In addition to the reserves, Darkness gets access to some permanent actions, just like the Virtues. These are printed on the dashboard and can be used repeatedly. Given that none of her other cards recycle (unlike Virtue cards) they have even more important than usual. Her options are currently:

  • Draw an event card and pick one line to resolve.  
  • Place Darkness on the board or Move Darkness 1.
  • Move a spawn point 1. 

As you can see, Darkness is a sort of anti-Virtue, with many similar options and powers. Yet she is not the same as any of them and has both more strengths and additional weaknesses. She offers a new playing experience and gives players yet another way to experience the Adventures of Solomon Kane.

You get the Darkness expansion for free with every core box pledge. However, the range has many options, and you may want more.

If you are interested in any of our add-ons, simply click on the green “manage your pledge” button near the top of the page. Then increase your total by the amount of any add-ons you wish to include in your pledge. So, if you have an Early Bird Puritan pledge ($110) and want to add the Early Bird Virtuous Bundle ($190) so that you have everything available for Solomon Kane, you would increase your total to $300.

Please note that during the campaign there is no way for you to tell us what the money you pledge is actually for, so don’t worry about that now. Instead, after the Kickstarter is over we will send you a “pledge manager”. This allows you to tell us exactly how you want to allocate your pledge, which add-ons you would like, how many core boxes, and (most importantly) where we need to send it all!

Also note that you need to take the Early Bird Virtuous bundle if you have an Early Bird pledge, to avoid getting The Right Hand of Doom twice.

 

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