Vindication is an island exploration game released in 2018 with a cube resource management mechanic. It has an underlying fantasy theme, and features amazing components and excellent artwork throughout to represent its game symbols, creatures and locations which you will interact with. Each player starts as a wretched individual washed up on a beach and looking to redeem their honour by interacting with the world they are uncovering. The game begins with a blank canvas for you to explore and reveal tiles, opening up places of interest to visit and gain rewards.
Your player board contains cubes representing potential, influence and conviction, and you will spend the influence cubes to gain knowledge (blue), strength (red) or inspiration (yellow) on the main board. Combining these initial three characteristics can further unlock your wisdom (green), courage (orange) and vision (purple) which are stronger abilities providing the potential for even greater rewards. Using the cubes as you explore the island enables you recruit companions and mounts to help you navigate, take control of important locations, fight monsters and collect relics. Each game comes with a random island lay out to reveal, with new combinations of companions, monsters and relics to uncover. This means that you constantly find a different mix of encounters and available items, which then leads you create new strategies and combinations to try to win. You can also take control of the better locations using conviction, which means other players will grant you honour (victory points) for visiting them or have to spend even more conviction to take them over. Secret quests will help lean you in certain directions to maximise your honour.
At its heart this game has you managing limited resources, moving cubes between potential, influence and the more potent conviction, before using them on the island board. There is so much you can do, and many different ways to win and selecting your best options and combinations is the key. On the face of it the game can sound complex with so many options, but the actual gameplay is very straightforward each turn, with three actions to take each round – move to explore the map, activate your own ability or that of a companion, and visit a location to gain its benefit. Some other free actions exist to manipulate the cubes but in essence everything flows from these three decisions, but sifting through the board choices is where the real depth is.
What lifts this game into greatness is the way the theme is integrated to the gameplay mechanisms, all the artwork is excellent and the colours and symbols make it look beautiful, but each adventure if you allow your imagination to flow can tell you the story of your journey of restoration. You will map out where you visited, who you recruited to aid you, what monsters you defeated on the way or special traits you obtained. In addition the insert and gametrays that hold your hero sets and the key components really help to make game set up easy.
The kickstarter core box came with some expansion modules built in, which you can mix in to change up the game. However this game is an expansion collectors dream as there is a growing list of excellent new content (my additions highlighted green = own, blue = part owned, red = not purchased) :
Included in the core box are some new locations for exotic pets, jewelcrafting, temple ruins, well of wishes and a choose your own location option. These are really accessible and easy to switch in and out to make minor changes to the places you can visit each game. I often use these to add quick and easy variety to the core game.
Guilds & Monuments / Myths & Wonders
Two more advanced expansions which add in new side play boards and extra mechanics are included within the core set. These expansions may be more useful when you have played a lot of core games and are looking for the next level of complexity as it requires more tracking of items and components. I have not really felt these improved the game though as i tend not to find them a seamless addition. Also it is worth noting the only reason to add all the monument miniatures to your collection is if you want to major on playing using these guilds.
Leaders & Alliances
An official new box expansion which adds in two solo game options and a set of six leaders with abilities you can choose to tap into or affiliate with for extra honour. The solo play comes with two options, a simple game with little change to the core mechanics and whilst it is pretty easy to beat, it is just great to get the game experience and tell yourself an adventure story without much set up. The more complex second solo option takes a lot more learning and set up and is also a lot tougher to beat, and i do not tend to play this one as much.
The six leaders are more for the competitive game and feature lovely thick boards to track which you are siding with, with really neat artwork and some clever abilities to access. Your starting hero choice also now comes with a minor consequence as you will match initially with one leader for an opening bonus. Leaders do add more options to think on during the game, but these are less complex than the changes from guilds and monuments and just fit much better with the game, and you do not need miniatures. This box is one i would highly recommend adding.
World Box Odyssey is mainly a component upgrade set featuring a neoprene mat and a dual layered punchboard, but it does also have a 2020 Promo Card Pack (15 cards) which is not separately available. There are also some separate component upgrades for the guilds & monuments expansion with miniatures to add to the game, plus a hulk monster and metal medallions should you really want to pimp out. You can also add custom sleeves too. I do not own most of this except for the hulk miniatures and the medallion upgrade.
Encounter Card Packs
A number of additional card packs have been added over time, largely within the kickstarter campaigns or as special event promo packs. These are nice to add more variety to the decks on the board, but are not all essential unless you plan to play a lot, or like to collect game additions. Given the artwork is so nice, i do tend to pick most of these up when i can.
2018 Original Promo Pack (12 cards), Promo Pairs Packs (8 cards), 2019 Community Promo Pack (12 cards), 2020 Wintertide Pack (15 cards), 2021 Community Pack (number unconfirmed)
This is the latest kickstarter expansion box which will add more storyline decisions and theme to your games. Whilst these are still in development, your board interactions come with additional choices which help you build your persona and come with additional bonus. As a means to add depth and meaning to the decisions you make and the story you build this is a really great addition for me, although it is likely to extend the playtime.
Villages & Hamlets
Another new expansion in development brings in a host of new locations and new side boards to visit, plus there is a treachery card pack (15 cards) and a bazaar loot pack (15 cards). This is quite an exciting new box pack as the locations in particular look really neat and will change up your games.