Dark Souls Board Game Review

Contents of the box (It’s a rather large box)

  • 27 Highly Detailed Plastic Miniatures
  • 9 Double-sided Tiles
  • 4 Character Boards
  • 64 Health and Stamina
  • 15 Dice
  • 121 Tokens
  • 252 Cards
  • 8 Tracker Dials
  • 1 Rulebook

As a nice touch to the game when you open the box the first thing you seen are the words “You Died”

First things first I want to make it clear that I am a HUGE Dark Souls fan and I was very excited to get my hands on the game.

I regret I passed on the kickstarter, as at the time I wasn’t really sure how it worked and I didn’t want to pledge £70, fast forward and the base game with no extras cost me £100! However Steamforged don’t seem to be having much luck and they haven’t actually released any of the add-ons yet even people that backed it are still waiting.

One thing that really drew me to Dark Souls apart from the theme is you can play solo which for me is a huge strong point, I have managed to get my wife, some friends and my brother Andy @mmaontheblog.Com and my soon to be sister in law Emma @1oclockhalfstruck.wordpress.com into the hobby but I don’t think the brutal world of Lodran is quite for them with the exception of maybe Andy.

The other thing I need to mention is this game is a table hog and takes a lot of time I have played 4 times now and failed each time before calling it a day and each time the session has been over 2 hours, but don’t get me wrong I loved every second of it!

Now on with the show! I’ll give a brief rundown of how the game flows.

The game has excellent re-playability as you shuffle the dungeon tiles so this gives a different layout each game.

  • Shuffle the tiles to assemble the dungeon
  • Pick your character, place them on the bonfire and take there tracker and starting equipment
  • Take the number of souls equal to the number of players (Refer to the rule box)
  • Pick a mini boss and boss to fight
  • Set out the dungeons based on the boss you picked by placing the encounter tokens

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Now your ready to begin, you can decide to spend the starting souls which I recommend you do, you can either level up your stats or buy equipment, equipment is bought by drawing the top card from the draw pile you can either keep it yourself or give it to another player, this is also where your stats come in as you may need to level them up to use new items.

Once you have done that it’s time to enter the first room, you can choice amongst yourself who goes in first and where you all stand then once everyone is in the room you flip over the encounter cards (These are random so they will vary each time) then place the enemies as instructed and combat can begin.

Combat is resolved via dice rolls, your equipment and skills decide what you roll, and the enemies have there actions on the cards which helps the flow of the game as the card also has instuctions for who they are going to attack so you don’t get to pick the strongest player to take the hits, there movements are also listed, they will move to the closest player , move to the player with the agro token (This changes player each room), ranged fighters will move back and so on.

Each player has a tracker which you fill with black cubes if you use an ability these are stamina or red cubes if you take damage if the bar fills with either colour you die! You can also spend stamina for additional movement.

Each player will also have a special ability which they can use once per rest, along with a healing item and luck which allows a re-roll. You can only get these back if you choice to rest OR someone dies, if one person dies you all go back to the bonfire and all unspent souls are dropped on there square, if you die again before getting them back just like the videogame they’re gone. Also in line with the videogame all enemies respawn on a rest.

You can only allowed a set number of deaths or rests before game over, this number is decided by the number of players.

If you defeat an encounter you get souls which you can keep or spend but as above hoarding souls can be a risk and you reset your hp / stamina.

Once you have succuessfully reached the mini boss door (You can rest if you like to repeat combat to level up more) you enter the mini boss fight, what makes these interesting are these enemies have a deck of ability cards that you shuffle to form there attack actions once they are used you simply redraw in the same order. That means you know there attack patterns and can stand in safe spots right? Wrong once they get below a certain level of HP, they get burn cards shuffled in which totally change there tactics and power them up!

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Show down with the Gargoyle!

Now if you are lucky and defeat them the good news is you get access to your characters upgraded equipment the bad news? You have to go through a tougher dungeon to reach the boss. The flow of the game is pretty much the same as before expect harder.

Pros

  • The component quality is excellent
  • Combat mechanic is nicely balanced
  • Fluid gameplay
  • Loads of replayability
  • Artwork matches the game
  • Boss fights are a highlight

Cons

  • Buying equipment is to random you might never get anything that you can use
  • Dying at a boss, sometimes fighting back there feels long winded
  • High cost
  • Getting everything back in the box (You can’t if you want it to be organised!!!!!)
  • It’s not a quick game
  • This won’t appeal to a lot of people

My solution to the storage issue was to buy a case typically used for screws, nails, etc from a local hardware store you could stick everything back into the Dark Souls box but you’d need 40 minutes to sort everything out to start the game! I just arranged the compartments into tockets that are a similiar type like souls, item cards, elite item cards and so on.

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Overal this game will appeal to you a lot more if you’re a fan of the source material or even if you like high quality miniatures to paint you get alot in this box! I personally cannot wait until the add-ons are realeased and I plan to purchase them especially Sif as they are my favourite character from the games.

But if you’re on the fence and have the spare cash i’d say take a gamble and buy it! You can typically find a copy on various facebook gaming groups for £70 often with people sending on the additonal content when they receive it.

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