Last night saw myself and good mates Mark and Steve play Conan for the first time, we decided to play the first scenario in the book ‘In the clutches of the Picts’
The scenario is designed for 4 players with 1 player taking on the role of Overlord (and controlling the Picts) whilst the other 3 play 1 hero each, now we only had 2 players for the heroes so Mark played Shevatas the thief, Steve played Hadrathus the Mage and they shared Conan between them
The game uses gems to track fatigue with players using gems in a turn to do stuff, but at the start of the turn players only get a few gems back so managing your gems is key to the game. Players have to make a choice each turn, which is be active and only get a few gems back or rest and get more back. But if you rest you can’t move or attack in the turn. The use of dice is also key with the game having 3 types of dice that are used, yellow dice are the worst whilst red dice are the best, each type of dice has axes on the sides which all score a success and you roll a number of dice and count up the axes to see what you’ve done.
So for example opening a chest needs to 2 axes to be rolled, now each character has a manipulation stat which shows the dice you roll and if you want to open the chest you place 1 or more gems on the manipulation box and roll one dice for each gem used.
It’s the same for combat and shooting, you work out the dice you can roll depending on the amount of gems you use and roll away, enemies have armor which nullify some of the successes but that’s about it, it’s really simple and quick to work out. There are rules about rerolling dice and using armor to save you as well but that’s about its very simple and players have to decide when to use gems to do things (like is it worth spending a gem to reroll a dice or not?)
This was the board at the start of the game
The game took about 3 hours to play out, at first it was because we were taking time learning the rules, but towards the end it was because we were talking, laughing and just enjoying the game, I imagine it would normally play out in under 2 hours.
The heroes had 8 turns to find the Princess who was hidden in one of the huts, kill the Pictish Chieftain Zogar Sag and escape off the board with the chieftain’s head and the Princess. In the meantime, I had to stop them doing this by using my overwhelming numbers to slow them down.
The game ended with the heroes winning, literally on the last dice roll and there were some real stand out moments in the game; including
Shevatas moving through the village peeking into huts, finding loot and killing one of the Pict hunters on turn 1, only to get jumped by 3 Picts who did 5 wounds to him in 1 round of combat (he can only take 10 hits)
Hadrathus teleporting around the board away from picts grabbing loot but not finding the princess
Conan running into the center of the village and taking down 2 out of 3 Picts in 1 swing of his Axe
The Overlord swamping Conan with another 2 Pict hunters and the giant snake, thinking that this would stop the big Cimmerian from moving. (the Pict hunters and the snake have the ‘Blocker’ ability which stop enemy figures from moving away)
Conan deciding to rest a turn whilst faced with these 4 enemies before using 5 stamina gems to make 1 attack on the snake and killing it in 1 blow. (each gem used in the attack gives 1 dice, plus its 1 dice for the axe so Conan managed to inflict 15 hits on the snake in total which was enough to kill it, I could have used some of my own gems to defend but only had 2 left and the odds meant I probably wouldn’t have succeeded)
Hadrathus deciding to help Conan deal with the 3 remaining Picts by chucking the Explosive orb into the area Conan was fighting in, this killed off 2 of the Picts and left Conan with some singed eyebrows (none of us saw that one coming)
Shevatas deciding to blow up 3 hyenas with an explosive orb he found in a chest, which the overlord with a lot less groups to activate
Shevatas attacking Zogar Sag (who finally came out of his hut) with his crossbow using 4 gems on the attack and only rolling 1 hit, to be followed up with Conan chucking his axe at the Pictish Chief and also missing
Hadrathus who had found the princess, teleporting off the table with her in his arms. (afterwards we discovered that due to the encumbrance rules that Hadrathus wouldn’t have been able to do this, but looking back on the game it just felt right and to be honest he had a clear run off the board and would have easily made it before the end of the game anyway)
Eventually, on turn 7 turn Shevatas cornered Zogar Sag and this time aimed his crossbow in the right direction and killed him, he moved into the area to pick up the head of the chief only to get jumped by 3 picts who neatly skewered him. This left Conan alone in the village surrounded by Picts.
In the last turn Conan had to move into the square containing 3 picts and the Chieftains head, kill the Picts, pick up the head and move off the table, we did the maths and worked out that Conan had to spend 3 gems moving off table, 1 gem to pick up the head which left him 3 gems to make the attack on the picts. We all knew what was going to happen, because its Conan and it’s the end of the book (I mean game) and when Mark rolled the attack dice and got 8 hits (he only needed 6) we all cheered as Conan slew his enemies grabbed the prize and walked off the table.
After the game we chatted about the mechanics and we all pretty much decided that this game is a winner, the use of gems to track what you can do in each turn is genius and makes you think the long game. The interaction between the players is great and the open turn where players and do things together just makes the game flow really well and importantly keeps everyone in the game and doing stuff. The Overlords board is also great as you can’t keep using the same units, you have to work out what you can activate now and what you can activate next turn.
So all in all it was a big thumbs up from us
Barry Doublet has done a great review of the game that’s really honest and well worth watching, it also goes through the rules and will explain everything
For me this game is well the hype and the waiting for it to deliver, its just fab