Rise of the Necromancers: unleash the Demons!

Following on from our first article that introduced you to our new Phoenix Line project, the Rise of The Necromancers board game, this article focuses on the first expansion for the game, Dawn & Demons, and our next article will deep dive into the brand-new expansion: Undead Sea.

Sore Loser Games ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for an English version of this expansion in September 2019 and backer pledges were delivered in early 2021.

The Dawn & Demons expansion introduces significant new gameplay elements, the Lost Arts of Demonology, allowing your necromancers to summon Demons. More importantly, the expansion introduces 3 new game modes: solo, cooperative, and semi-cooperative.

The core game’s “every Necromancer for himself” mode also gets the Demon upgrade, now you as the bad guys can diabolically dial up the EVIL!!! without extending game duration or complexity.

Additionally, the background of this dark fantasy universe gets a major evolution through new game elements and new content. Let’s dig deep! Muhahaha!

Demonology and Demons, new dark magic to up your EVIL game.

The first NEW game mode uses an optional rule from the core game (which we didn’t discuss in the previous article because it was an option to consider once you’d played a few games), namely a more aggressive game mode in which player’s necromancers CAN fight each other with their armies, and now, with the added possibility of summoning powerful demons to their side.  As in the basic game, you win the game by being the first player to place your 13 Dominion counters on the board and your player board. The placement of the 13th Dominion counter is still the instant victory condition.

The four famous Demons, who are far more than servants, are the biggest new game addition. They are greater Demons, possibly Demon Princes, each one attached to a type of necromancy, and thus to an academy (Decay, Blood, Bone or Mist). When they are summoned, they join the forces of a necromancer who is already revealed and powerful, as Demons can only serve a necromancer of the same academy (color) as themselves.

 It‘s impossible to summon a Demon if you have not revealed your true necromantic identity, and the expansion pushes you to select your necromancer to match the Demon you’d like to control. But revealing yourself isn’t enough: to summon a Demon, you need to track down ancient Demonology lore, represented by cards that you add during set up to the item, dungeons, or libraries decks. If you have at least one of these cards in your play area and you have revealed the identity of your necromancer (and thus the academy he is affiliated to), then you can summon a Demon instead of recruiting a minion.

To summon a Demon, you must sacrifice an apprentice (the Demon possesses their body), then pay the Demon’s resource cost (shown on its card), then place a Dominion counter on the Demon’s board: They start the game at level 1. The Demon’s miniature is placed on its card, and the huge monster is considered to be accompanying your necromancer, just like your zombie, Hell knight, ghost, and skeletal dragon minions.

What makes Demons different from other minions is that their power can increase during the game. By finding new Lost art of Demonology cards and paying the cost shown on the demon’s card at its next level, you can increase its power up to level 3. It then becomes very, very strong. Leveling up a demon is expensive and time-consuming, but it allows you to place new Dominion counters on your player board (the same way you level up Spells or Items to level 2).

Another difference from simple “servants” is that a Demon can be unbound. It is then deployed on the board with an army of servants that you entrust to it and that it will command. The Demon can then, alone or with its small army, move around in addition to your necromancer, attack cities and even your opponent’s armies! 

This practically gives you another turn in addition to your Necromancer’s, except that the Demon can’t collect resources, enter libraries, workshops or even dungeons. They simply wreak havoc in cities and attacks your opponent’s armies. Be careful though, no matter how powerful a Demon becomes, it is never a guaranteed win and if defeated, the Demon will return to the limbo from which it came. Don’t worry though, you or another necromancer will be able to summon it again, following the same procedure.

A player who collects 6 Lost Demonology cards will find clues to the location of the ancient Demonology Academy and, as with the other four academies, can become its Headmaster by placing the token representing that Academy on a special space on the game board. And as usual when becoming Headmaster, they get to place two Dominion counters on the board, double bonus.

In addition to the Demon boards themselves and the miniatures, the Dawn & Demons expansion adds new cards to the core box card pool:

  • 2 new necromancers (whose minis can be found alongside all the necromancers you can play in the Gamefound campaign add-on The Foul & The Wicked), 
  • 2 new apprentices,
  • 3 new items,
  • 4 new spells,
  • 3 new dungeons.
  • And the new Demonology Academy.

Cover your eyes when you turn on the Light!

This expansion introduces a new solo mode and a new cooperative mode. And even a semi-cooperative mode (but aimed at a specific audience).

The Solo/Co-op mode allows you to learn more about the game universe, about the forces of Light, those that sealed the doom of the previous Necromancer King. Indeed, the little power games between aspiring Necromancer Kings on the cursed isle has attracted the attention of the Righeous powers that live beyond the seas. They have defeated the forces of evil in the past and they intend to do so again. The Archbishop of Light is preparing his return to our isle, and he is a terrible opponent.

In this solo or cooperative game mode, the necromancers must ALL place their respective 13 Dominion counters in play collectively before the Archbishop arrives to win the game, but if he arrives with his army of Light and enters the Valley of Souls, he must be defeated in 5 turns. Dabbling with the Lost Arts of Demonology and summoning Demons is essential if you wish to defeat him.

The countdown, which represents the imminent arrival of the Archbishop, is represented by a line of double-sided Dawn/Demon tokens. The Archbishop’s mini is placed on the far right token in the line. Initially, the tokens are Demon face up. Before each of the first player’s turns, the leftmost token is flipped to its Dawn side. As soon as the token that the Archbishop’s miniature is on is flipped over, a card is drawn from the light deck and the effects described on the card are applied, usually something horribly Good!

Once all the tokens in the line are flipped to their Dawn side, the first token in the line is discarded, the tokens flipped back to the Demon side and the process begins again. If the token that the Archbishop’s mini is on is discarded, it is too late, the forces of Light summon great power and rid the cursed continent of necromancers, and the game is over for everyone. Summoning Demons (and keeping them alive) allows you to extend your line of Dawn/Demon tokens at the rate of one additional token per Demon summoned.

There are three types of Light force cards: purge, enlightenment and reinforcements. They determine which type of Light troops (soldiers, or griffon knights) are on the isle and in which type of terrain (city, dungeons, workshop or library). These invading forces will be a real nuisance to the players and will delay them. When the fourth reinforcements card is drawn, the Archbishop immediately arrives with an expeditionary force on the isle and immediately enters the Valley of Souls. His mini is then placed on the board, along with his force of Griffin Knights. Players have just 5 further turns to defeat him before they collectively lose the game. But be careful, when the Archbishop occupies the Valley of Souls, you cannot use this board space anymore! So, if your necromancer dies, it will be for good (this time!).  

Note that the cooperative mode is challenging and you may not win during your first few co-op games. But this is not necessarily a flaw, a co-op (or single player) mode that is too easy can get stale pretty quickly.

Let’s check out the semi-cooperative mode: the rules are the same as for co-op, except that there is only one winning Necromancer! The challenge comes from the fact that facing the forces of Light can be very daunting, and players may tend to stall, hoping to force the other players to take the risk. Our recommendation is that you play with experienced players in a semi-cooperative mode, otherwise the game will often end in collective defeat (and rarely with a winner).

In the Dawn & Demons expansion, designers Thorbjørn H. Christensen and Christoffer Kyst have succeeded in adding new options, a truly original game mode, and in evolving the story without weighing down the basic mechanics. This expansion will quickly become a must-have for fans of the base game.

And what about the brand-new expansion, Undead Sea? Well, you’ll see that it opens new horizons for your necromancers and introduces an incredible element of adventure and exploration. But we’ll cover that in the next article.

Rise of the Necromancers

On Gamefound from Tuesday, January 11 till Friday, January 21, 2022.


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