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Raiding the Vault of Darkness

grouchy

I wasn’t too thrilled about the announcement of Hemloch: Vault of Darkness from Small Box Games. Okay, that’s a lie: I was ecstatic for the thirty seconds before I read the description and realized it wouldn’t be a fine-tuned legacy edition of my beloved Hemloch in the vein of the fantastic new Olympus Edition of Omen: A Reign of War. Then I was sad and worried, because Shadow of the Sun, the other game set in the Hemloch universe, didn’t make much of an impression on me. And thus a damper was placed on my expectations.

To make matters worse… no, wait, come back — I promise this story has a happy ending.

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Taking a Swig of Hemloch

He really does look he's dispensing some advice. Cruel advice, but advice nonetheless.

Hemloch’s Horned Advisor advises you to play Hemloch, lest you get the horns.

The more astute among you have probably picked up on the fact that I prefer board games of the epic variety, and what little crevice I have in my heart for two-player card duelers has already been stubbornly occupied by Summoner Wars. And yet, there’s something about Hemloch from Small Box Games that has captured my imagination. Not only is their company delightfully and intentionally tiny (you can read about it over here), but John Clowdus has a way of filling even the slightest games with an immense range of compelling choices.

Imagine this: The end of an age of twilight is dawning over the city of Hemloch, and as the last member of an ancient bloodline you’ll need to manipulate, influence, cajole, bribe, and backstab to gain the allegiance of the city’s districts before the sun rises. And you’ll be doing it in about twenty to thirty minutes.

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