Alone Time: Three Sieges

Except this Arm is John McClane. Hm, I think I'll use that joke in the actual text. THIS STUFF NOT EASY FOR DUMB PPL.

All that remains of the Wardens in Kurth is a single Arm.

Siege at Kurth

Turns out the army of the twelve dread barons has worn itself to a nub against fortresses like Dalnish and Nem, so when they finally show up at the Citadel of Kurth, they’ve spent all their really cool toys — no more Lyches, no more Trulls, no more city-bombarding boats. All they have are the basics: loads of foot-soldiers and the fact that the Wardens have been so similarly thinned that the entire defense of Kurth consists of one solitary Arm.

Too bad for the Barons then, this Arm is basically the John McClane of the Lassadar universe.

Much unlike the puny Arms that defended Nem in the previous installment of this trilogy (and died doing it), this Arm knows a whole lot about magic. So once you lay out the streets of Kurth, mark your starting mana and spirit (health), and let a few enemies into the city, he’s going to pick a direction (clockwise) and just start running, and swinging that sword, and casting spells that will throw all sorts of wrenches, arrows, and magic into the barons’ plans. This is easily the simplest game in the second Lassadar trilogy, the story of Just One Man and the hell he raises to keep a bunch of baddies out of his city, but that only means it’s also the tightest.

As evidence of its elegant simplicity, I’ve already explained the basics of gameplay: enemies invade, filling up the markets and squares and libraries and everywhere else, and you run in a clockwise circle through the city like a gore-encrusted windmill, hoping to delay the enemy army for three full rounds and praying they don’t overrun too many locations before your Warden buddies show up to kick them out of Lassadar for good. Where Siege at Dalnish and Seige at Nem were cerebral exercises, this is pure visceral catharsis.

Which isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of thought underlying all those decapitations.

Sometimes I consider leaving the alt-text blank to confuse my more regular readers.

The gameplay is card-driven, and incredibly simple.

The gameplay of Kurth revolves around a short deck of cards, small enough that the entire thing can be printed on just a couple sheets of paper, counting the rules. Your goal is to survive three rounds, each of which is subdivided  into four turns. On each turn, you lay out three action cards and do some basic arithmetic. You add a few enemy thugs to the first two card locations (in the above example, you add 4 enemy soldiers to the Market and then 4 to either the Library or Barracks, depending on which is more lightly occupied), count up the enemy combat bonus (10), and gain some mana (5). Then you move between one and three spaces clockwise around the city, fight a quick battle to either win and kill some goons or lose and decrease your spirit, and… well, that’s pretty much it for the basics.

The slightly more complex stuff is that, in addition to the normal dice-rolling stuff, each set of three action cards lists a special action you can take and a spell you can cast. On each turn, you may choose one of each. Special actions drain your spirit, wearing you out but letting you move the opposite direction, protect locations from future enemy incursions, or cast extra spells. Spells, on the other hand, usually improve your attacks or let you fight additional battles in adjacent spaces, though they drain mana perilously quickly when you string them together with an assist from the right special actions. Other than the fact that you can also occasionally take a shortcut through Kurth’s network of secret passageways, that’s it.

Now I have an arbalest, ho ho ho.

The Arm grows increasingly beleaguered waiting for reinforcements.

No, really, that’s it. It’s easy to produce, only requiring access to a printer and a sizable stack of eurocubes, and it’s easily the simplest and quickest of the second Lassadar trilogy. The table of combat values, which shows how strong a group of enemies are, and how much spirit you lose when they beat you up or how many of them you kill when you win a battle, takes a little extra time to understand, but in a game this brief, we’re talking about less than a minute before everything clicks into place. It’s one of those surprisingly elegant designs where the rules are so simple that I was constantly surprised by the breadth of the decision space — deciding how far to travel around the city, and which special actions or spells to use, is rarely an easy decision, and each and every choice matters as Kurth begins to flood with all manner of undesirables.

There isn’t much to else say because it’s such a clean design, completely absent of fluff or unnecessary padding. A worthy conclusion to the series, and a Print ‘n Play that gets a definite recommend from everyone at the Thurot home.

Posted on September 13, 2013, in Board Game and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. i like the photo across the Dalnish tower. one of my favorite bits of that game i thought up is how you basically look out over 3 dimensional ramparts made out of the eurocubes. and how you really get a sense the tower is taking damage as they are removed

    • That’s exactly how I felt while defending the tower from the baddies. I really felt like I was defending an actual tower and needing to worry about my cannons, archers, and Elders staying healthy enough to keep on defending well. It was exciting and fun!

      • She even used those exact words: “Dan, this is exciting and fun!”

        Either that or she was muttering swears at the un-killable row of Arbalests that hounded her for a full 90% of that game.

  2. thank you for the review of al three games. you really made my day!

  3. Easily one of the best Alone Times yet. I’ve played some of Todd’s games before, mostly from Aether Captains and the first Lassadar series. Looks like there are a few more I have to try!

    • I haven’t tried any of the Aether Captains yet, though there are a couple I’ve had my eye on. I wanted to finish up the Lassadar stuff before making the jump to another of Todd’s universes.

  4. I’m determined to actually put some of these together. Or get someone else to. I don’t have any friends into board gaming, but my arty younger brother assembled the first Lassadar game for me, and it was awesome, even if it took me a while to figure it out… hey, as I said, I’ve never really played these kinds of things. Dalnish, Nem, and Kurth, here I come!

  5. the iOS version of the Siege at Dalnish is coming along rapidly.

  6. Printed out Dalnish and the original Risen game today. Can’t wait to try them out!
    Have you had a chance to try the solo pnp Delve the Dicegame? Sanders did his own version as well.

  7. It’s a few years old, but when it came out a lot of people were really excited. It’s a solo dungeon crawl dice game that came with originally 4 characters and 2 maps and has since been extended by both the original creator and Sanders to have like 10 maps and 12 characters. It looks fun, although I haven’t tried it yet.

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