Kingdom Death Monster 1.5 kickstarter arrived in October 2017, and our group began a campaign, parking Gloomhaven for a while. This game presents players with a nightmare world where you take your settlement survivors on a journey through many lantern years, fighting strange creatures to improve your survival chances.
Gameplay is split into three sections, the hunt, showdown and settlement phases, the latter two being the most involved and important. Fighting the creatures has proved enjoyable, with the artificial intelligence cards bringing real variation and interesting mechanics into play, and is far beyond any historic dungeon crawl fighting. However mechanically it is focused on dice rolling with modifiers, and is therefore extremely random. The settlement phase is an addictive array of choices, from learning new innovations, to crafting weapons and armour, or choosing fighting skills, and your decisions will shape your settlement style. The ability to build and combine complete armour sets is a nice experience, and a fond reminder of my World of Warcraft days.
This game is unlike anything else i have owned, the quality of the components is high, the hardback book especially likable, and the models are a good quality with loads of detail. This is definately a hobby game experience, and modelling and painting are essential, you can build unique characters to represent your use of equipment and clothing. The price of this game reflects the fact that you are given a huge black box of goodies to play with as you wish, and you will unlikely even use it all.
After six months with the game i felt the main drawback is the price, not just for the base game, but for it’s numerous expansions. You have to consider offsetting this cost against owning or expanding a number of other large dungeon crawl games instead. After an initial campaign run, my group just did not rush to put this back on the table, as whilst the monster intelligence is excellent, the dice rolling mechanic for the players turn is fairly simple, which is not overly deep compared to say playing Gloomhaven cards or even the Sword & Sorcery dice. It also didn’t work well as a solo game for me at home, as i could not get involved in developing a hero that would last. So i took a hard decision to cash this game in to invest elsewhere, and as there is really no going back on it later, i may one day regret this. My own gaming preference involves exploration into a dungeon and building characters, which just doesn’t happen so well with Kingdom Death, where survivors rarely last long. I will certainly miss the models, but i am deeper into building up Warhammer Quest, and i cannot spread myself over too many painting projects anyway. Selling the game made financial sense to fund the limitations of my hobby budget and get new games in.
If the designer ever produces a more standard dungeon crawl in this style, well that may be the time i invest again.