Nevermore Games (Chicken Caesar, Mars Needs Mechanics) is back with a new Kickstarter project: Dark Dealings. So they sent me (Jeremiah) a prototype to get my thoughts. Here they are.
Dark Dealings is a filler-length card-drafting game that has players taking on the roles of dark overlords trying to defeat the pesky heroes who are upset with you and have joined forces to crash your gates and take you down.
Here's how the game works.
There are two decks: The Hero deck has, well, heroes in it. They feature weaknesses, which are the types of attacks that are successful against it, an Armor value and a Challenge value.
The Defenses deck has a bunch of different ways for you to defeat the Heroes. They have a variety of different attack types, and also a different number of attacks that they can perform per card. They have a shield value printed on either 1, 2, or 3 sides of the card, and as you defend you turn the card, a la Castle Panic, to indicate how many times it's been hit.
During the first phase--the Hero Phase--each player is dealt a hand of nine Hero cards. You'll select two of them and place them face down in front of you. And pass the rest to your left, You'll do this until you have eight Heroes in a pile and discard the ninth card.
Next you have the Defense Phase. From the Defenses deck turn over cards to a total of twice the number of players. (2 players = 4 cards, 3 = 6, etc.) Then players select two of their drafted Heroes to play in front of them. Then all players turn their cards up. Starting with the highest challenge value and descending from there players take turns using the available defenses to try and defeat the Heroes that they've selected. If they can't defeat the Heroes in front of them, they've been overcome and are eliminated from the game.
The last Dark Overlord standing wins.
Let's start with the art work: It's bright, colorful, and doesn't exactly set the dark, intimidating mood that you might think of for a game dealing with Dark Overlords. That's not a bad thing; it keeps the game light and not too serious.
I liked the mix of drafting and the shared defense tableau (which is in its own way a form of drafting) but gaining access to those defenses is determined by which Heroes you decide to face first. The tougher the Hero the higher the priority, but the tougher the Hero! So there's a good balance to strike there as you jockey for position to get to use the best defenses.
I think the theme, while an interesting flip on the typical dungeon delve or fantasy setting, could be a bit of a turn off for some players who might be thinking of introducing drafting to their youngsters. The flavor text is full of references to the players taking the roles of Dark Overlords, and the reason you're given to challenge high-value Heroes is because the "Dark Masters" only grant access to these traps etc. to bravest of the Dark Overlords. The cards themselves have non-threatening imagery, and there's no flavor text on them (at least on the prototype I was sent, and from what I see on the Kickstarter page), so much of that backstory/flavor can be done without and it can be somewhat abstracted, but you should be aware of it at least. I would probably shy away from this game with younger players or a church/youth group that may not be okay with the theme.
That being said, the gameplay is fun and tense, with lots of strategic opportunities, so while the artwork may seem light, and the theme on the dark side, the game is still very enjoyable for gamers, and a solid game to add to the drafting shelf in your collection!
Jeremiah's Final Verdict
With a name like Dark Dealings you shouldn't be surprised by the theme and flavor of this game, but if you're looking for a fun drafting game to slide in as a filler for your game nights, this one is a no-brainer!
Thanks for reading--we really appreciate our readers!
You can check out Dark Dealings on Kickstarter Right here!