Gencon 2018 was not entirely RPGs for me. I played two board games “The Reckoners” from Nauvoo Games and “Who Goes There” by Certifiable Studios. In a rare turn of events, I played both games with the developers. Given they are completed, sellable games I am going to call this a review post. “The Reckoners” review is first up today.
Brandon Sanderson, creator of…well…basically any fantasy novel in the past 10 years. I joke! But the man can produce fiction at an astonishing rate and I enjoy several of his series, including “Words of Radiance,” “Mistborn” and “The Reckoners.” “The Reckoners” begins with a comet taking up orbit near Earth in the early 21st century. Suddenly random people develop super-powers. Some of the powers are fun (flying), potentially useful (make plants grow quickly) or lethal (lasers beams from hands, burning body a la the human torch, super-human strength, etc). While this sounds wonderful, the people with powers turn into self-centered super-villains and immediately begin laying waste to the planet. Normal people are just pawns and are often sacrificed in battles between the “Epics.” Among the worst is “Steelheart.” He is overlord of “Newcago” (Chicago post-apocalypse) and rules with a steel fist. Pun intended.
“Steelheart” is a superman analogue with even more abilities and is basically unbeatable. However, the universe played a joke on Epics. Each one has a unique weakness. Figure it out and you can just shoot an Epic like anyone else. Figuring out that weakness is the issue…
Which brings us to “The Reckoners.” Reckoners are a human underground movement/death squad created for the sole purpose of killing the Epics. All of them. They watch the Epic, determine a weakness and then eliminate them.
This is the essence of “The Reckoners” board game. Players need to gather resources, complete objectives and research weaknesses to defeat an endless array of minions and lesser Epics serving Steelheart.
Each player receives a character board (lower-center shows “Cody”) and dice unique to that character. Cody is a sniper so his dice have extra combat symbols on them. The science geek has extra research and so on for each player. The six characters in the center represent lesser Epics that you must defeat to earn gear and other rewards to nibble away at Steelheart on the far-left center. He is too tough to attack at the outset, but by attacking his minions you can weaken him.
The game is co-op with players pooling their respective dice rolls to achieve goals. Some Epics have prerequisites before you can attack them, such as research. Once you clear that hurdle you can attack normally. If you need five research dice for a task, all players on the square may contribute. You have limited actions and limited dice, so resource management is critical to victory.
We made a good decision early to spend money on an item that increased our cash pool. Gear is expensive and really useful and by the end we had a pile of deadly weapons and other tech that made the difference.
Game play is fast, even with new players. Players execute their turns simultaneously and once they are done, the Epics do pre-programmed evil. The city has a population and as Epics act they whittle away at your population. Once you hit zero the players lose. Of course killing Epics and taking actions to defend the citizenry are options for the players…but it is another drain on their resources and slows the progress towards killing Steelheart and his minions.
The Epic cards ( in the center of the image above) have the Epic’s name, what evil he commits on his turn (kills population, helps Steelheart, adds troops, etc.) and the round and square tracks are hit-point and research trackers you need to get to zero to kill him.
We bought some great gear, worked well as a team and had some amazing rolls. In particular when it got down to the bitter end and we almost defeated Steelheart, one of the players basically rolled six of a kind on six dice. Best roll ever in a board game. Steelheart fell beneath our collective might. Hurray for humanity!
Components were quite good, but I need to mention I played the “Deluxe” version. It had metal components for the hit point/research tracking paths. The physical components were excellent and I especially enjoyed the trays that held all the cards and dice. Nice presentation all around.
“The Reckoners” is a fun co-op that plays in about two hours and I look forward to playing it again in the future.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer