So, this week I paired up with Jenna and we met our new team. I know their names but I can’t put the names to any of their faces. We have to make a board game with them. Their game is called “Darkest Depths” which I really like. They originally wanted to go with “Dark Descent” because the game is based around a dungeon adventure, but…well…
I quite like the new name, anyway. It sounds spooky and mysterious.
The layout of the game is an arrangement of cards on top of a board made of hexagons. I’m not sure if we’re going with the hexagons absolutely, considering the game works fine without them (or without any board at all, for that matter), but I still like the look of the bit of cardboard they’re using as their example. The cards are all laid face up so players can start planning what they would do even before the first turn, and it makes for a more competitive environment.
The game takes on three players at once, each chooses archetype card out of four categories – the Warrior, the Cleric, the Sellsword, and the Mage. There are four types to only three players to make sure there’s always a choice, I think. Anyway, each of the archetypes has a specific suit of cards which they can collect and gain special benefits from. For example, the Warrior’s most useful suit would be the Swords, while the Mage’s is Wands, and so on.
To start, so far it is simply that the eldest of the three players takes the first turn and chooses which of the first three cards to start from. This is basically the decider of the whole route through the board. Each card represents an “encounter”, and players start with 15 tokens that they can use to make bids on the card. All of the player’s tokens combined must add up to the number written on the card in order for the encounter to be successful, and the player who bid the most tokens wins that card. Facing a tie between two players, they would currently just play rock paper scissors for it. The guys are still figuring out a solid way to determine a tie-breaker.
Each card also counts as an item. Players can hold up to three at any one time, and each starts the game with one card of the suit that correlates with their archetype (when I chose the Sellsword my starting card was of the Pentagram suit). During the bidding part of the game, a player may use one of their cards as their portion of the bid. The value of the card in this case is the number written on it, however, if it the player’s “strong suit”, the value is increased by two.
As the players progress through the game, each must both try to get their respective strong cards and stop the others from getting theirs. But they must win every encounter, else they face a strike. Three strikes means losing the game outright.
If the players can win enough of their encounters to make a path up to the top of the board, they face the Boss Battle. There are clue cards to be gained in certain parts of the game which determine what the boss is like at the end. The way to win the boss battle is that every player bids all their remaining cards and tokens and the total is added up. If the total beats the monster’s amount of “health” (say, 30 points), the game is won. Just like with bidding on cards throughout the game, the player who contributed the most points to the final score is the ultimate winner.
I really like the premise of this game. It calls for players to be both selfish and not at the same time. You could bid just 1 or 2 tokens each round, to save up for the final battle, but this could also mean losing encounters, and if you lose enough of those, everyone loses the game.
In the last game of Darkest Depths that I played, one guy captured the Moon card, which allowed him to steal another player’s card and throw it in the used cards pile. He did this in the final boss battle round, taking the other guy’s only card and discarding it. And then, we added all of our points together afterwards and came up short by two. In trying to guarantee himself a win of the whole game, he caused everyone to lose. I thought that was super interesting and definitely adds some new competitive angles to the game.
Anyway, that’s my rant on the rules of the game. Now if someone reads this and then they get to play Darkest Depths for themselves, they won’t be AS confused as they would’ve been without this poorly worded guide lol