Here I was, The leanest, meanest Englishman gunslinger this side of the Rockies entering a dark and cold abandoned mine. To my left is Elsa, the Salon Girl (named by my daughter). To my right is El Bandido the bandido. We’re a creative lot eh? Now you’re probably thinking I’m describing the opening scene of my Call of Cthulhu RPG session. To be honest, it does feel a little like that but overall, the gameplay is very much not like a typical RPG since it uses a card driven resolution engine to control the game mechanics. I say “typical”, as there have been a few RPGs that have flirted with using cards as their engine.
As you explore, things randomly awaken (drawn from the Darkness deck) and Dread event cards (Dread deck) are added to the Depth track, awaiting a time when the game decides they’re to be flipped over and we all scream in horror at what fate has handed us. Usually right at the point of engaging the big bad nasty thing causing all the trouble. This is a mechanic I really like. As the Darkness marker moves and we awaken stuff (signified on the track) we deal with it immediately but the Dread cards are left next to the track, piling up, with nobody knowing what’s in-store until the game state triggers the horror of the dreaded Dread card flip. When that happens, it’s every self-respecting gunslinger for himself.
Another thing about this game that I like, is the lack of card counting. In most games you get to know what’s on the cards and as the discard pile builds you can start to predict what’s coming. Not with Shadows of Brimstone. Each time you draw a Scavenge card, good, ill or no effect, it is immediately resolved and then shuffled back into the deck. This ensures no two games play alike and lady luck can be harsh or benevolent in that moment or long runs. There are games where you scavenge and nothing happens all game. There are those games where everything seems to align against you. Conversely there are games where it seems everything you need is simply there for the taking.
I’ve spoken about the board (tiles), the cards and the feel of the game but in the end it’s all about beating things up and winning right? With Shadows of Brimstone creature numbers and type are generated by the Threat Deck based on the number of players (characters) playing. This balances the challenge out nicely and again, adds a randomness where no two games play alike.
Shadows of Brimstone gives you a board game with a lot of cooperative roleplaying elements. Extremely high amounts of replayability and it takes me back to those early games of Spacehulk, which were a lot of fun. The only nit-picky negative is all the different decks to make the game run but that’s very minor.
What I love about this game:
- The production quality is awesome.
- Game tiles are printed both sides, allowing a lot of variety.
- The miniatures are superb. I wanted to paint them as soon as I opened the box.
- Game play is familiar and fun
- The mesh of horror and wild west is very well blended
- The game already has expansions
What I didn’t like:
- I can’t play it more.
MSRP: $99.95 (both the same)
Release: Both available NOW!