Many people know the good family game Kingsburg. And many people know that this game has a modification where, instead of a medieval kingdom, players are transferred to the Lovecraft setting and become priests of various cults. Interesting?
“Kingsport Festival” is a game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Gianluca Santopietro, published by Passport Game Studios. It is designed for a company of three to five players. Game participants try on the role of priests of various cults from Lovecraft’s myths. Every cult wants to become dominant in Kingsport. Players will summon space creatures outside of time and space, and this is not an easy task. They will have to play very cunningly, because there are also detectives in the game, who will try to interfere with the plans of the cultists every turn. The player who will receive the maximum number of points by the end of the game is declared the winner, the rest will be (as is the case in all Lovecraft games) gobbled up.
Preparing for the game.
First, lay out the field on the table. Place the building tiles in the appropriate slots. The sheets of the Ancients are distributed around the field, then we put cubes next to it. Each player chooses a color and receives three dice, fifteen pucks, a cylinder token, a memo and a cult token. Each player places one of their pucks on the “10” on the Reason track and the other on “0” on the Magic track. The single cylinder must be set to “0” on the Cult track. Scenario cards are shuffled, one of them is randomly selected. It is placed face up in a special slot. Raid markers must be placed on the calendar as indicated on the scenario card. If a Scenario card requires a Festival card, it is also drawn blindly and placed under the Scenario card. Investigator cards are divided into 4 decks according to their backs, shuffled separately, and then one card is drawn blindly from each. These cards are placed face down next to the board. Event cards are shuffled and then placed one by one on top of the investigator cards. The white cylinder that measures the time is set to “1” on the calendar. Spell cards are divided into piles depending on the symbols on the backs, shuffled and placed next to the board. You can start the game.
Before starting a game, you should read the Scenario card to understand how it will affect the process during the game. Each game lasts 12 rounds, with one round representing one month of the year. A round consists of 6 phases, which are played in a strictly defined order. This is the definition of the order of the turn, the call of the Ancients, the help of the Ancients, the expansion phase, raid and time.
The first phase is determining the order of the move. At this stage, the players simultaneously roll the dice and tally the results. The dropped out number will indicate how you will play in this round. The player with the lowest score always starts. In order not to forget the result, players place their pucks on the Turn Order track. The first player gets 2 sanity points, the second player gets 1 point, the rest of the players get nothing. Accordingly, these points should be noted on the Sanity track, but remember, a player cannot have more than 12 Sanity points.
The next phase is the call phase. Each player takes turns calling one of the Ancients by placing his cubes on his sheet. The number dropped on the dice must match the number on the Ancient One sheet. Players cannot summon an Elder who has already been summoned by another player. The only exception is Nefren-Ka.
The third phase is the Ancients help phase. Players receive “gifts” from the summoned Ancients, starting with the Ancient with the lowest number on the sheet. For this, all participants in the party will have to lose a certain amount of Sanity points. Some players may also be able to foresee the future. This ability allows you to secretly look at the map of events or investigators before the next raid.
The next phase is the expansion phase. At this stage, players can use the buildings located on the field to enhance their abilities. To do this, you need to pay with resources. Their number is indicated on the tiles of each building. If the requirement is met, the player places his puck on the building tile and receives the reward also indicated on the tile. Buildings are marked with a washer of your color for a reason: the next building that you want to use in a new round must be associated with a building tile that already contains one of your washers.
Next comes the raid phase. It does not take place every round, but only in those “months” on the calendar that are marked with the blue raid marker. The event card is revealed, followed by the detective cards. In turn, players deal with these cards and then apply their effects. The level of the raid and the strength of the investigators are determined, and the players calculate their strength by applying modifiers received from spells and buildings. The result must be compared with the strength of the detective. If the player’s strength is greater, he defeats the investigator and receives the reward indicated on his card. If both strength indicators are equal, the player will not receive a reward. If the player’s strength is less, he will have to suffer the losses indicated on the investigator card.
The last is the phase of time. The corresponding marker is moved one space forward, and if it is on the last space, the game comes to an end. A Festival card is revealed and its effects are played. Players look at the points they have scored on the Cult track to determine the winner.
There are just a lot of bright components in the box. The playing field is well structured and the artwork is simply gorgeous. The game is similar to Arkham Horror in both the illustrations and the feeling you get at the end of the game. The sheets of the Ancients are printed on thin cardboard, but it is impossible to find fault with the drawings themselves. The reverse side of each sheet contains all the necessary information about each Ancient. Building tiles, Cult tokens, and Raid markers are made of heavy cardboard. The box also contains a variety of washers, cylinders and other markers made of durable wood. You can’t find fault with cubes either. The cards are printed and cut perfectly, and the illustrations are great. I especially liked the card backs, as each deck has its own unique design option. Overall, the look of the game really helps to immerse yourself in the Lovecraft atmosphere, and I really loved it.
Book of rules.
They also approached the writing of the rudbook very seriously. The rulebook cover looks like an eerie version of the Necronomicon. Inside you can find portraits of detectives with whom you have to fight and read their stories. There are many photos on each page with examples from the game, they make it easier to understand the process. There is even an excerpt from Lovecraft’s work, it was printed at the very beginning. The meanings of all the icons you come across during the game are very clearly explained. The rules are well structured and logical, it is impossible to get confused in them. In addition, a short breakdown of the game can be found on the last page. It helps a lot at first, as it does not allow you to get lost or forget about this or that rule. All in all, I’m sure the developers put in a lot of effort to make the rulebook look as good as the game itself. They did their job with dignity.
Kingsport Festival is a real pleasure to play. Yes, the main mechanic here is “worker placement”, but there is more to this board. Theme! I really enjoyed being able to play the dark side. After all, before, in “Arkham Horror” or “Ancient Horror”, we constantly fought on the side of the detectives. For me, Kingsport Festival is a cross between Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep. You will spend most of the party trying to get various resources for which you can “buy power” in certain buildings and thus earn victory points for the Cult. I know it sounds boring, but an interesting topic just won’t let you get bored during the game. As with most “worker placement” games, you will have to think not only about your own possibilities, but also about how not to expand the range of these very possibilities for your opponents. Raid and Investigator cards add to the experience, as you never know who you will have to face in the next round. I especially liked the Scenario cards, which change the time when these very raids should take place. Sometimes there is another feeling that you are building your own city, but I try to always remember that the main thing is not just buying buildings, but controlling a certain territory. If you really like the theme, then the game will be fun for a long time. I am a big Lovecraft lover, and now I understand what I missed so much in board games – “Cthulhu Worker Placement”.
The bottom line.
Kingsport Festival is a mid-range worker placement game. The games cannot be called very long. Most of them fit in an hour and a half. The game fits perfectly into a number of already released board games based on Lovecraft’s myths, as it evokes the same feelings that, for example, once caused the “Arkham Horror”. I especially love the new opportunity to finally play as the bad guys. At the same time, “Kingsport Festival” is much simpler than “Arkham Horror”, but you still have to think carefully about it. It is worth paying attention not only to Lovecraft fans, but also to fans of “Lords of Waterdeep”. It seems to me that they will be able to appreciate it. In general, I can safely recommend it to all players, and I myself am sure I will play it for a long time. The high replay value is achieved here thanks to the Scenario cards, which, in my opinion, strongly influence the process. All in all, this is a great board game that
- For 3 to 5 Players
- Ages 12 and up
- 90 minutes playtime
Darkness descended to Earth, and the line between reality and the other worlds has thinned so much that hellish creatures (and not rainbow unicorns, as everyone would like) begin to crawl through the opened gates here and there, foreshadowing the awakening of the Great Ancient. The bravest and most versatile heroes set out on an exciting and eerie journey across the world to uncover all the secrets and save the world from the deadly tentacles.
In search of the secrets of the Ancient
Ancient Horror suspiciously resembles Arkham Horror (aren’t they from the same universe for an hour? :)), but this is only at first glance. Instead of an Arkham map, players will find a world map (which, by the way, also has Arkham), as well as a lightened and to some extent even improved game mechanics, a rationally reduced number of components, a twisted and variable plot (it depends on the choice of the Ancient One, whom you you will try not to wake up the Myth cards that fall to you), and many reasons to interact with each other.
Players will have to travel the world, either on foot, or buying tickets for a train or a ship (not to be confused with a Train Ticket), fight with monsters who cleverly crawl out of the constantly opening gates, close the gates so as not to blow out, collect contacts and make sure that the track of Hopelessness does not reach that very tragic moment at which the Ancient’s alarm clock rings, and the whole world comes to a complete and unconditional finish.
In order for everyone in the world to live happily ever after, and the Ancient One continued to sleep and dream about genocide, you need to reveal his three secrets (and, alas, these are not suppressed childhood memories, and not a code from a safe with cookies), to reveal each of which you will need to perform certain, different from each other actions. So get ready for the fact that you will have to pretty much wander around the world, then frantically collecting evidence, then closing the gates, then discarding certain cards in certain locations.
Eight in a boat, not counting Cthulhu
The players’ turn consists of three phases: the action phase, in which the heroes can travel, heal, exchange items, buy items, or perform special actions indicated on any of their cards; the phase of contacts, in which the players get in contact with residents and informants living in different parts of the world, as a result of which they can get a pleasant surprise or, on the contrary, stay with broken legs in some Istanbul gateway. This will be decided, of course, by the cubes multiplied by the indicator of one of your characteristics.
In the third phase, you have to reveal the myth card (by the way, the myth deck for each Ancient is formed individually, which, no doubt, adds variability and unpredictability to the game), which promises you all kinds of trouble. Either in the Himalayas, the next gates opened, into which otherworldly fear-people immediately climbed, then all the monsters you beat restored their health, and a lot of similar surprises.
You can fight game difficulties until the track of Hopelessness comes to its logical conclusion, and until the deck of Myths ends. An interesting innovation is the ability to interact with a deceased or completely mad comrade: find yourself with him in the same location and read what is written on the back of the character card, it is quite possible that you are entitled to his property or even some useful knowledge.
Don’t wake the sleeping Ancient!
We could tell you for a long time about all the adventures that happened to us in just five hours of play, but we are sure that each subsequent game in Ancient Horror will be different from the previous one, this is the first indisputable advantage of the game: it is variable and, undeniably replayable to the point of indecency. Secondly, of course, I would like to note the atmosphere and design of the game: both are, as always, at their best: the monsters are frighteningly unpleasant, the characters are charismatic and diverse, and all the events, pleasant and not so, are illustrated in such a way that goosebumps the back does not stop running for a minute.
Optimization of game mechanics, simplification and unification of many actions had an extremely positive effect on the game: there are fewer game components (compared to Arkham Horror, of course), the rules do not require many hours of mastering, and the rounds are very dynamic, even despite the frequent need to roll dice. The components of the game please with excellent quality, the box – with a pleasant weight and a large number of carefully prepared ziplocks, the rules – with detail and accessibility.
What happens if you put the Dominion in the reality of the Arkham Horror, and use the fragmentary and feverish memories of a Darwin Castle game as rules? It might be a little unexpected, but one of the most adorable deckbuilding strategies we’ve seen will be born.
- your rivals will not hesitate for a long time
- many ways to build tricky combinations
- convenient and understandable pictograms on maps
- the ability to summon the Ancients
- great for games for two, but the rules are adapted for 3-4 players too
- the gloomy theme of Lovecraft’s worlds, despite the colorful illustrations, will please only the most courageous children
A little more about the game
Have you always thought that our world could benefit from a little shake-up in the form of the coming of Nyarlathotep? Have you dreamed of studying at the University of Miskatonic and studying ancient manuscripts? We have good news for you: now you can feel like an adherent of the dark forces in the addicting strategy board game World of Cthulhu.
Build ancient cities and turn them into ruins, summon creatures from parallel dimensions, and most importantly – have fun with memorable games in the Worlds of Cthulhu.
Understanding the rules is as easy as dreaming R’lyeh for a cultist. To win, you need to make your opponent lose his last units of reason. This can be achieved through the competent use of the properties of existing cards. All participants begin with a modest set of followers, thugs and adepts, but with each round they increase their potential, which allows them to summon powerful creatures and artifacts to their side.
Each card has certain properties, the main ones are attacks on the opponent’s mind and gaining the power of embodiment (a local analogue of currency, which helps to add numerous ghouls, Mi-Go, frightening locations and much more to your deck). In addition, you can exile cards from your hand or from the field, get new ones and destroy your opponents’ cities. For complete happiness, many cards have properties that are activated if you are currently playing a certain color, which allows you to build cunning combinations and surprise the enemy with tactical decisions.
Deck-building strategy for dangerous acolytes
We have before us an exciting deck-building strategy, which from the first game fascinates with the grace of the process and a variety of ways to win. For example, various manuscripts allow you to draw additional cards to increase your hand, and, therefore, potential; Ancient deities allow you to exorcise unnecessary cards, making your every move eerily effective, and believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg of your possibilities. Throw in the eerily addictive setting of Lovecraft’s creations and you have a board game that everyone will want.
The design of this game is as delightful as the Necronomicon for a young novice. We also learn from the rules that the lion’s share of the area of the maps is occupied by gorgeous illustrations, and this is really so. Bright pictures on the theme of the worlds of Cthulhu, filled with humor and attention to detail, are waiting for you. The fun style will allow the whole family to sit down at this board, since even creepy ghouls cause a smile, not fear. All this splendor fits perfectly in a compact box with a convenient organizer.
It looks like we have a new favorite among the two player boards, although the Worlds of Cthulhu can be conquered with more players. A must-have for all Lovecraft or Dominion fans. An elegant, addictive and clever strategy will heal your mind of worries and bad moods like Arkham Asylum.
- Inspired by the best selling board game, Arkham Horror
- A fully cooperative game for up to eight players that also supports solo play
- A fast paced, deeply thematic, story driven adventure game
- Dedicated Mystery decks and unique victory conditions for each Ancient One ensure a versatile and highly replayable experience