Alone Time: Three Sieges
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.
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.
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 Air and Nothingness Press, Alone Time, Board Games, Print and Play, Shadows Upon Lassadar, Siege at Dalnish, Siege at Kurth, Siege at Nem, Todd Sanders. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.