This week’s Kickstarter Game of the Week is a massive one – Downfall by Tasty Minstrel Games. Phew, this game comes with soooo many fiddly bits of awesomeness! Despite my penchant for playing lighter fare, I do enjoy a well-crafted 4x game every now and then. Downfall was designed by John D. Clair (the guy behind Mystic Vale) so I know it’ll be well-crafted. And the normal hang-ups that I sometimes have with 4x games seem to be out the window with Downfall.
First, I generally like my main-event 4x games to have a high player count. This is simply because if I’m going to go through all the trouble of organizing, setting up, explaining (for new players), and making an afternoon or evening (or an afternoon and evening) out of playing a game, then I want as many people to enjoy it as possible. There are a lot of great 4x games out there capped at four players, or they’ll add in a 5th player with an expansion… but it slows down the flow of the gameplay. Not with Downfall. Downfall is for up to six players, and it promises to keep everyone on their toes while mitigating downtime. I’m really looking forward to throwing down the gauntlet with a full six players in Downfall!
Another thing that sometimes drags down the fun of 4x games is poor components or artwork. Well, one look at Downfall, and I could tell that this would not be the case. TMG always puts out awesome-looking games, and they’ve gone above and beyond with Downfall. The 2D art is fantastic – from the box art, to the cards, to the tiles.
Maps and tiles are often overlooked when it comes to artwork in games, because it’s just an overhead representation of a geographic location… not something typically exciting for an artist to render. But, when you think about it, it’s the most prominent feature of a game like this. (I upgraded my pledge to include the Big Map tiles because they just look so cool… I want my table to be completely blanketed by the world of Downfall. Haha!)
The 3D components of Downfall are also top-notch. Because it’s deluxified, there’s some really awesome looking miniatures to represent each player’s leader and their airships. The metal radiation tokens are a nice touch too, as I love the feel and sound that metal components make when you play with them.
The gameplay of Downfall looks stellar as well. It revolves around all the tenets of 4x games that we come to expect, but it features an innovative card drafting mechanic that gives players much more focus in the choices they make… and makes their choices even more important. I’m going to quote the Kickstarter page directly, to explain the different actions that your drafted cards allow you to do, since I think TMG did a great job of using animation to give a run-down of the action gameplay:
“Cards have consistent major actions and different minor actions:
“When you choose a major Gather action, turn 1 raw resource token to its gathered side in every space with a regular survivor (equipped survivors do not Gather). Gathered resources can be stored or used to feed, Build, and remove radiation.
“When you choose a major Regrow + Excavate action, first place 1 raw food on each plains and clean water space you occupy. Second, place a raw matching resource on each space with one of your outposts.
“When you choose a major Bunker action, choose to either A: gain 1 survivor, B: gain 1 raw building resource, C: gain 1 culture point, or D: all of the above. Be careful not to gain more survivors than you can feed!
“When you choose a Build action, you may spend gathered resources from your storage or any space you control to equip survivors (1 metal), build airships (1 metal), bunkers (3 stone), or outposts (1 stone). You may also remove adjacent radiation (2 oil).
“When you choose a Command action, first place a command token on any space. Next, spend up to 2 movement points on separate units (airships may carry up to 2 survivors). Lastly, you may spend 1 oil to place an additional command token, or to gain an additional movement point.
“When you choose a Research / War card, you’ll decide between the two options. If you choose Research, you’ll look at your 10 technology cards, select one, pay its cost, then slide it under the corresponding column of your player board. That technology will be available every time you choose that action in the future.
“If you choose War, you initiate conflicts in every space you occupy. First, battle strength is compared: the player with the most battle strength gains 2 victory points, and the loser gains 1. Command tokens are removed, and the winner may then either convert 1 enemy structure or airship to their own or kill 1 survivor. Any remaining survivors must then retreat to an adjacent space. (In the example above, the blue player gains a total of 5 vp, green and yellow gain 1, and red gains 2.)
Once all of the actions are completed, the cards chosen are discarded, and a new one is drawn by every player. If a “Winter” card is drawn, the game timer advances, causing a myriad of events (such as the spread of radiation, or having to feed your starving citizens) that will affect everyone. Once the Winter Track reaches the end, the game is over, and a winner is determined.“
Downfall looks phenomenal – and I really love that TMG gave several pledge tiers to give backers the option of spending less if they don’t want all the deluxified components or larger map tiles. I pledged at the Deluxified + Big Map level because, as I said… I can’t wait to turn my table into a warzone. 😀 If you’re into big, epic games, or even if you aren’t and want to see what all the buzz is about when it comes to the 4x genre, you should check out Downfall. As of writing this, there’s 11 days left to go on the Kickstarter campaign – so you’ve still got some time!
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,