Stopping Sauron at the Green Lantern Inn
So, as I mentioned before, I borrowed a copy of Darkest Night. Darkest Night is a Tolkien/D&D -esque game of stopping the big bad (necromancer) with a plucky quartet of characters
and a baby unicorn named ‘Uni’.
And I’ll admit I was intrigued. Looking through the components each character had a little deck of ten power cards, so a lot of differences in a small space. But as I read the rules I became less and less intrigued. This follows the standard “Draw a bad card, do a good action” on each heroes turn, but there’s just way too much randomness and downtime. Lots of the heroes actions are “Roll a die and if you succeed draw a reward” or “Fight the opposing minion by rolling 2-3 dice” (in general, you need a single result greater or equal to four or five).
Nonetheless, TaoLing and I set out to save the realm. The Necromancer wanders around dropping minions, which you can (and mostly should) ignore as much as possible, in order to search for the MacGuffins of Power, which give you a +1 on all rolls. You need at least one MacGuffin to win, because it takes a 7 to hit His Royal Deadness, aka Baron von Groovy. And — like any good mastermind, if you happen to kill him when a henchman is nearby, it doesn’t take. Like the man says, he doesn’t have to outrun the Bear and Druid, he just has to outrun his underlings.
And — as an added annoyance — for the good guys moving is a full turn. So lets see what our priest did.
T1 — Move to the Mountains
T2 — Search, fail
T3 — Search, succeed, get a key (1/3rd of a MacGuffin)
T4 — Move away, because Baron von Groovy was in the area
T5 — Search the castle, get a new power!
T6 — Search the castle, get a new power!
T7 — Back to the mountains, nothing.
T8 — Failed searches
T9 — Key
T10 — Kill the minion (to start making BvG weaker) and pass the keys off to the druid, who was best equipped to fight the minion.
Can’t you just smell the excitement? The Priest had then exhausted his grace (which is used to not die when you should, among other things) so took a turn to move back to the monastery and pray …. roll some dice to get grace back. (On average, you get a big over 1 a turn! Granted, the priest does this better). And he later went out for more keys.
Now, my wizard had a bit more to do, since he could teleport and zap and cancel, but he still spent about every 4th turn hiding (do nothing, reset powers).
The last 5-7 turns of the game saw our heroes sitting still pounding the necromancer’s minions (since he spawns some each turn) while sucking up damage from Mr. “I’m all that” and trying to kill the bad guy. But even 4 dice (a lot) needing a six (which the MacGuffin turns into a seven) is still a 50/50, and we often only had 3 dice. So some turns were prep, and others fighting.
We eventually smote the necromancer, the land rejoiced, and squirrels frolicked in the dew laden fields.
And while we all thought our deeds should live on in song forever and ever the bard sounded terrible. So we all just agreed to never talk about the dark times again.
Rating — Indifferent, barely above avoid.