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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients - Board Game Box Shot

Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients

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Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients is a fast-paced, fully cooperative, dungeon-crawl board game set in the Old West, with a heavy dose of unspeakable horror! Players create characters, taking on the role of a classic Western Hero Archetype, such as the Law Man, Gunslinger, or Saloon Girl. Forming an adventuring posse, the Heroes venture down into the dark mines, overrun with all manner of ancient demons and foul creatures from another world. With tactical gameplay, lots of dice, and a robust card-driven exploration system, no two games are ever the same as the heroes explore the mines finding new enemies to fight, new loot to collect, and new dangers to overcome. Players can even find portals to other worlds, stepping through to continue their adventures on the other side!

An exciting campaign system allows the players to visit local frontier towns between adventures, spending their hard-earned loot and building their characters from game to game! As players find fantastic gear and artifacts to equip their heroes, they also gain experience from their adventures. This experience is used to level up, guiding the hero's path through an expansive, class-specific upgrade tree of new skills and abilities, allowing each player to develop their hero to fit their own play style.

SoB CotA Contents

In City of the Ancients, players will encounter portals to the otherworld on the Plains of Targa, finding an ancient frozen city whose living inhabitants are nowhere to be found. Instead, great mechanical keepers wander the city going about their duties - until interrupted by the arrival of the players' characters!

So load up yer' six shooter, throw on yer' hat and poncho, and gather the posse as the darkness is coming, and all hell's about to break the Shadows of Brimstone!

Can be used together with Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death to raise the maximum players to 6.

User Reviews (2)

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I play blue
El Dorado
Guardian Angel
7 of 8 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Shedding Light Upon the Shadows”

Shadows of Brimstone (SoB) is a dungeon crawl set in the American Old West. Its theme is derived from the movie “Aliens vs. Cowboys” released several years ago. Players take on the role of ordinary old west townsfolk, such as the Marshall, Gunslinger, Saloon Girl or Bandido, who are thrust into playing the hero due to dark circumstances. The characters form a posse which investigates the local mines and Other Worlds, fights a host of monsters and attempts to complete a scenario mission. SoB is a fully cooperative game for up to 4 players ages 12 and up and plays usually in about 3 or 4 hours depending on the scenario. Combining the two core sets allows for up to 6 players. SoB is at its best with 3 players and can also accommodate solo gaming with ease.

The components are fair at best. The thick cardboard double-sided modular boards are the highlight of the components. There are thick cardboard tokens and plastic playing pieces. The character boards are cardstock quality with very good artwork. The cards are marginally durable with good artwork which sets the theme. Unfortunately there are not enough tokens, or in some cases the correct tokens to mark some of the game functions. The plastic figures require assembly and are unpainted. Expect to spend some time assembling the figures. The character boards are virtually useless due to the changing stats of the characters. There is no way to mark the stat changes without destroying the character boards and no chits or tokens provided to do so either. More cards should have been included as a lot of items that can be obtained in this game aren’t represented. The worst part of the components is undoubtedly the rulebook and scenario book. One of the worst rulebooks I have ever seen. The rulebook does not have an index and is poorly organized. Rules are also scattered between the rulebook and scenario book. You’ll spend some time searching through both books trying to find rules. The rules are also very unclear on many aspects of the game. Be prepared to House Rule many things. One of my biggest disappointments with the rules is the lack of a detailed campaign system. The core set contains a few campaign rules some of which are unclear.

Set-up for SoB takes a moment. You’ll need to pick a scenario and possibly piece together the map if required (some scenarios have a fixed map and other scenarios require a random map). There are a host of different decks to shuffle and of course the character boards with their respective equipment and abilities need to be laid out.

Shadows of Brimstone is played in a series of turns which consist of the following four steps:
1. Hold Back the Darkness
2. Hero Activation
3. Room Exploration
4. End of Turn

Hold Back the Darkness
The hero holding the Old Lantern rolls 2D6 and adds them together. If the total is equal or greater than the current level on the Depth Track, then Darkness has been prevented from advancing. If the roll is less than the current value, then the Darkness Marker on the Depth Track advances one space. Certain spaces on the Depth Track cause a Darkness card to be drawn and resolved. Other spaces cause a Growing Dread card to be drawn and saved for resolution before the final battle. Rolling doubles causes a Depth Event to occur. None of these things are good for the heroes. If darkness advances out of the mine, then the heroes have failed the mission.

Hero Activation
Each Hero is activated in order of initiative, from highest to lowest. The player rolls 1D6 to determine the number of spaces the hero may move this turn. On a 1, the hero also recovers Grit. Grit allows the Hero to reroll a die roll. If there are no monsters on the board, then the hero may Look Through the Door to reveal another map tile if he is at the map edge or scavenge. The hero rolls 3D6 to scavenge. A card is drawn from the Scavenge Deck for each 6 rolled. The hero will gain minimal experience points (XP) and could find gold, dark stones, an item or nothing at all.

If there are monsters on the board a hero may attack monsters within range. A hero can use his melee ability to attack a monster adjacent to him or use a ranged weapon, such as a rifle, to attack a monster within the weapon’s range. To make an attack, the hero rolls the indicated amount of D6 or D8 according to the weapon’s card. Any rolls equal to or greater than the hero’s melee/range ability scores a hit. Any rolls of 6 on a D6 are critical rolls. The hero then chooses a monster and rolls a die for each hit. The number rolled minus the monster’s defense is the number of wounds inflicted. Critical rolls negate the monster’s defense. The hero gains XP for killing monsters. Once all monsters have been vanquished, each hero draws Loot cards equal to the number of monster cards drawn for the battle. The hero will find gold, dark stones or an item and gain XP.

Room Exploration
Once all heroes have completed their activation, any new revealed map tile is discovered. New map tiles receive an Exploration Token. The exploration token is revealed and resolved. The exploration token will indicate the number of passageways leading from the new map tile, the number of events which occur or if there is a monster attack. If it is an event, then a card is drawn from the appropriate deck, for example a mine event is drawn for a mine tile or an Other World card is drawn for an Other World map tile. If an attack is indicated, then a monster threat card is draw to determine what type of monster attacks and how many.

End of Turn
Other affects occur such as healing.

The heroes continue to search the mine/Other World until the final fight begins or until darkness escapes the mines. At the start of the final fight, the Growing Dread cards are revealed one at a time and resolved. If the heroes defeat the monsters in the final fight, then they have achieved a mission success! Regardless of the mission outcome, each player rolls a D6 to determine if any Travel Events occur. Once Travel Events, if any, are resolved the posse arrives at the nearest town. The heroes can buy items, try to heal permanent wounds, stock up on supplies or have an event at one of the town locations.

Heroes level up as they gain experience similar to an RPG. XP can be spent to obtain the next hero level. The Amount of XP required increases as the hero level increases. Upon obtaining a new level, the player rolls 2D6 on the Upgrade Bonus table and chooses a special ability according to the character’s Upgrade Chart. The Upgrade bonus grants a minor ability, usually more health, sanity or +1 to an attribute (Agility, Cunning, Spirit, Strength, Lore & Luck). The Upgrade Chart gives the hero another unique capability.

My gaming group struggled to learn how to play SoB. I played the game solo a few times in an effort to learn the mechanics but still had many questions. Our struggles were largely due to the unclear rulebook.

The scenarios leave a lot to be desired. There isn’t much creativity in the scenarios included in the core set. For the most part, the scenarios feel pretty repetitive, find 2 or 3 clues and then fight the final battle which might include a big baddie. There is also no consistency in the scenarios. We played a few scenarios multiple times and found that sometimes you’ll have heavy combat and sometimes there will be virtually no combat at all. It could take uncovering only three map tiles or many map tiles to find the clues.

I’m going to gripe about the components again. I feel as though for the cost, the ‘core set’ should have included more stuff for the City of Ancients Other World. There are only a handful of cards pertaining to this Other World. And there are no monsters specific to the Other World contained in the box. Basically the monsters for the mines are used, but given different names. You’re basically buying the map tiles for the Other World. The expansions are badly needed to bring out the City of Ancients theme. Can you say Cha Ching?!?!

In my experience game length for SoB is usually either very quick or drags on. When the game length is quick, it’s most likely because you had a lucky draw and found the clues quickly and/or there isn’t much combat. This isn’t a very satisfying game. Most of the time game length is long. Downtime in this game can be painful, which is why I strongly suggest having no more than 3 players. There are times when an endless stream of monsters appears. The dungeon crawl aspect comes to a grinding halt while combat is resolved and the game feels like it drags.

Enough of the bad, on to some good stuff. I like how scavenging is handled. Any space can be scavenged and there is a chance of finding something. The number of times something is found feels right. The Loot mechanic is along a similar vein and feels right too. I really like how XP for monsters is doled out. A hero receives XP for killing small monsters. However, a hero also gains XP for damaging large monsters, not on just the kill. This helps to spread XP among the posse members a bit more evenly.

Shadows of Brimstone is a game I really wanted to like and after a couple plays I did as my rating reflects. However, as it turns out, I was lucky those first couple of plays as the amount of combat and clue token timing panned out to provide a good gaming experience. After more plays I did not find this to be the norm. I now rate SoB a 5.5 due to many of the points discussed above. SoB feels like an underdeveloped game with many issues and I strongly suggest considering the points above before you buy.

Player Avatar
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
13 of 21 gamers found this helpful
“Mount Up! Eldritch Horrors awaken in the Old West!”

I’ve been a long time fan of Flying Frog Productions board games and since purchasing this game at GenCon 2014 it has rapidly risen to become my absolute favorite game. Not only is the setting (a horror western) practically tailor made to my sensibilities, but I can’t get enough of playing the game itself. A completely co-op game, (1-4 players vs. the game A.I.) The heroes dungeon crawl their way through the mines and through portals to other worlds across a series of replayable adventures, and as if that weren’t enough, you can grow and level up your heroes by going into town between adventures, where you can buy and sell gear or even become mutated by the corruption of dark stone! I can’t recommend this game highly enough! All of the heroes and monsters come on sprues so some assembly (and super glue) is required. This core set includes everything you need to play, or it can be combined with Swamps of Death to add ALL NEW content and increase the number of players to 6! So git on out there partner, and test yer grit against the Shadows of Brimstone!


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