Broke it out for the first time last night — no RPG night, all the sads — and boy is it tasty and tough. It’s published by the same folks who do Kemet and Cyclades.
The game itself is quite easy. Each player controls a bunch of clans (the little dudes on the map) and is trying to be declared High King. To make that happen, they need to have the most fulfilled victory conditions: presence in territories, presence near sanctuaries, chieftain (majority control) over opponents’ pieces.
The basics of the game are in the Action Cards, 17 distinct options that get dealt out less one blindly drawn out of the batch. Everyone ends up drafting 4 actions, and the drafting is neat: keep one and pass three, then meld the three with the one you kept and keep 2, then meld the next two with your hand and keep three, then add the final card passed to you. I really like that, and it let me change plans once or twice in a way that you can’t in other drafting games like, say, 7 Wonders.
Being the chieftain of a region — those jaggedy map pieces in the picture — gives you that region’s Advantage Card. You can also earn Epic Tales cards, which is this big deck of one-off effects.
Because we’re us, we turned a game with a touted 1 hour play time into a 3+ hour slog. It was fun! But it reminded us a little of other games with lots of public information where eking out a victory can be murderously difficult to arrange (Theseus, Fief, etc.). As the game progresses, you get a larger map, more citadels (the little white buildings) and more sanctuaries (the little brown buildings). You can also earn Deeds, which are tokens that can be used as wild cards to fulfill your victory conditions. Eventually someone will win the game, most likely when they have so many Deeds that achieving two or even all three of the victory conditions is trivial. But before that happens, there are lots of turns where two or three players can all claim to be a “pretender” — that is, they fulfill a victory condition — but tied victory conditions are a tie and play continues.
I think the game will flow better and move faster with a second play, and boy howdy is it replayable. That map is randomly dealt out every game, and the Epic Tales deck is so big that you probably won’t see every card in a game. We saw half the deck in 3 hours.
Anyway, pretty neat, pretty easy, verrrry thinky.