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Vast: The Crystal Caverns

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Become Part of the Legend…
The dragon has been asleep for many long years. In that time, the cave under which it slumbered has changed greatly…Goblins and strange monsters have filled its gloomy depths and there are whispers that the cave itself has begun thinking, shifting, and growing evermore dangerous.

Still, stories of peril rarely overshadow the rumors of riches. And riches there may be… For where a dragon slumbers, there also lies a fiercely guarded treasure. Fortunately for the slumbering beast, malevolent crystals fill the cave’s rooms with spectral light, hiding the entrance to the immeasurable treasure trove. Many have given their lives to the search and over the years the rumors have faded to legend.

But the most courageous adventurers will not be discouraged by bloodshed. On this day, a knight steps into the darkness, her gloved hand gripping the hilt of her sword. Her years of quests–all of the victories and defeats—have led to this one final adventure. Knowing the kingdom can never truly be at peace with the dragon beneath the cave, she has come to make a final stand. Little does she know that she will awake everything that slumbers in the shadows… and begin the final battle in the darkness.

Enter the world of Vast: The Crystal Caverns!
Vast takes you and your friends into the torch light of a classic cave-crawling adventure, built on the concept of total asymmetry. Gone are days of the merry band of travelers fighting off evil. In Vast, you will become part of a new legend… Any part you wish!

Play as the classic, daring Knight, the chaotic Goblin horde, the colossal, greedy Dragon, the scurrilous Thief, or even the Cave itself — powerful, brooding, and intent on crushing the living things that dare to disturb its gloomy depths. Each role has its own powers, pieces, and paths to victory … and there can only be one winner.

2017 SXSW Gamer's Voice: Best Indie Game of the Year (Multiplayer) Nominee
2016 Golden Geek Most Innovative Board Game Nominee
2016 Golden Geek Best Thematic Board Game Nominee

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“Not perfect, but can create wonderful gaming experiences ”

Vast is an asymmetric game where 1-5 characters can play. A dragon, knight, goblin horde, thief and cave all try to accomplish their own separate goal. The game has a modular board and numerous mechanics depending on the players. The modular board has “lit” tiles and “dark” tiles. The lit side means the area has been revealed and the dark side means it has not been revealed yet. These tile differences affect movement.

Each character is essentially playing a different game from everyone else and each game has a different objective.

Knight: the knight’s main game is action selection and managing her 3 stats, buffing strength, movement, or perception based on what she is trying to accomplish, defeat, or prepare for that turn. The knight has entered the cave to slay the dragon but initially she is fairly weak. The knight largely explores the cave by revealing dark tiles and then resolving them. They may have treasure, events, goblin ambushes etc. Before she can beat the dragon she must gain treasure, fight goblins, complete quests, survive events and explore the cave in order to gain stat cubes to increase stats and be able to chase down and over power the dragon. Unfortunately for the knight, a horde of goblins are trying to kill her..,

Goblins: you are the leader of the goblin horde and win if you can kill the knight. The goblins are in 3 tribes, each with their own unique abilities. Each tribe has a population. The main goblin game is managing their population, they want a big population in order to attack the knight, but if there are too many goblins then they start infighting and break apart. Goblins play a risk/reward game with appearing on the board out of hiding and populating their tribes. They also gain other cards which allow them to control monsters which aid their fight or cards that give them special abilities. Where the knight explores the dark tiles of the board and makes them lit, goblins have unlimited movement on the connected dark edges of the board but have limited movement in lit areas. Unfortunately for the goblin a hungry dragon lurks in the cave…

Dragon: the dragon starts the game “asleep” under the cave and their goal is to “wake” and exit the cave. This is done by managing a hand of cards which allows for a variety of different actions. Certain actions or events, like eating goblins, revealing certain tiles, and finding treasure, allows the dragon to wake up a little and gain power. This is important for avoiding the knight and eating goblins. At a certain point the goblin awakes and tries to escape. Unfortunately for the dragon, along with the knight there is a pesky thief is there stealing all its gold…

Thief: the thief is cursed to never leave the cave or be able to die unless it can steal a certain amount of treasures (kinda like the movie Groundhog Day). On his turn he allocates action points to different stats which allow him to move, avoid detection, and steal. He can rob other players, take treasure, or break into vaults. After this he has to stash the treasure away. Each stashed treasure gives him stronger abilities or different choices. Unfortunately for everyone, the cave is alive and wants them all dead…

The Cave: You just want the goblins, thief, knight and dragon to leave you alone. You are going to collapse on everyone once and for all. your job is to grow the map until there are no more tiles to place, and then collapse it in a specific way in order to win. You also hand out treasure, decide events, place all tiles, and influence other players. You are also collecting random tiles, which, like the dragon, allow you to take actions like changing the cave, adding walls, moving players, etc

Things I like:
-plays out like a story, this helps to keep players involved and makes it seem less personal.
-First play is fun to see what other characters can do since each person is so different
-In most games I’ve played, end is very exciting
-Balance in game comes from interaction of players
-Each player has a path to victory that is so different from everyone else. In games I’ve played 4 out of the 5 characters has won with the last one a turn from winning 2 times.
-Very tactical game with longer strategies for each player
-Even if a player is not in a good position to win, they can have a tremendous outcome on the game.

So-so stuff:
-plays better with 4 and 5 players
-may not be perfectly balanced
-Players will probably prefer the play style of one character over another
-Possible to get unlucky with card or dice and lose
-some configurations of characters seem much better than others (goblin v knight v dragon is usually better than thief v cave v goblin)
-Some players may get lucky draws/rolls and could potentially be very strong early
-Without cave player there is additional randomness
-Fewer players can mean less balance since the game hinges on interaction between players.

Things that bother me:
-Interactions between players gets confusing
-first few times playing can take a very long time (3+hrs)
-Can have long down time
-Very likely you will play the first few games and find out at the end you played a few rules wrong
-Some final turns can feel like you are king making
-Individual rules sheets for players are great, but some important rules are hard to find and only on specific rules sheets

My Impressions:

This is not my favorite game, but it can be immensely fun. Needs to be played with the right players as well since some will be very frustrated by rule clarity or overwhelmed by choices. However, it can also make for memorable games. One game we played on the last turn the thief was one turn from escaping with his loot, the knight had the weapon to deal the final blow to the dragon, and the dragon was awake and sprinting for the exit, when the cave player suddenly collapsed on everyone, winning the game. This game makes stories, it creates very memorable experiences which is something I love in a game. However, each play of this game could be one of the best gaming experiences or a very mediocre one. This is a game to bring out each week or month with the same players, as teaching the rules can be a challenge. Overall, when I’m in the mood for an epic story and I have the time, I will always suggest this game.


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