Review: Tainted Grail The Fall of Avalon – terror and courage
Darkness is ubiquitous. Once I was carried away by the prey and I got too far from the menhirs, which are our only light in the landscape. Darkness was suddenly replaced by darkness and a sense of danger. My vision blurred. I stumbled back to safety, feeling like I had escaped death from a shovel. Now I’ve heard of a group that is said to be going on an expedition beyond the light. Fools. I tried to convince them, but they can’t tell. None of them will return.
Similar fools will be the players who embark on a dramatic campaign in the board game Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon. The pair of designers Krzysztof Piskorski and Marcin Świerkot are behind the creation of this entertainment, who tuned everything under the supervision of Awaken Realms. The game was a huge success on the Kickstarter server, where it broke records and raised an incredible six million dollars (almost 42,000 players!). But others have the opportunity to join now, because thanks to Albi, a classic version of the game (without Kickstarter bonuses) is published in Czech.
The really big box offers a view of one of the menhirs on the lid, at the feet of which probably lies one of the heroes. Pierced by a sword. There is no game plan inside, but instead there are large location cards for players to find the starting point. Here he places a starting menhir, places a coin in his base counting down his extinction, and surrounds the place with four more cards with which the locations are adjacent. Prepares packs of individual encounters, secrets, items and all tokens. According to the selected chapter, it also compiles the necessary pile of events.
Players choose each of their heroes, get their starting (and aside expanding) packages of combat and diplomacy, and place the piece on the center card with the city of Cuanacht. Most importantly, each of the members of the expedition receives a board of their character, in the center of which is inserted a double-sided cardboard card. It offers information on default abilities and starting resources. The player marks these with the help of red dice – there are six properties on the sides, each with two levels. In addition, each hero records the number of valuables, dishes, points of experience and reputation, as well as the number of lines he has available. On the side is also a combined scale of health, stamina and horror.
At the beginning of each day, the players tick their time and count down the extinction of the menhirs. In the bases of individual discovered statues, players will reduce the value of coins by one. If the menhir reached zero, its light went out and all locations around it (eight adjacent cards) plunged into darkness (they must be removed from the plan). At dawn, however, a new event is revealed, which can not only bring some conditions for the whole day, but also the task that the party must complete.
At the beginning of each chapter, however, the more pleasant part of the day awaits the player, in which players can spend their stamina points. All actions can be performed either individually (and thus include more space) or as a group (and be better prepared for possible offensive surprises). The heroes and their pieces can thus move around the locations, explore them or activate their specific actions. With a classic survey, players access the back of the card, which refers them to a verse (paragraph) in the story book.
It is connected by a ring bond and arranged clearly according to the location numbers. Immediately at the beginning of the survey, the player reads a paragraph that describes the atmosphere of the place and then, based on his wishes, plans or feelings, he must choose from the options provided by the diary. Each is completely unique, some branch, others lead to a fight, the next time players progress through a few paragraphs and must roll the dice for success with the involvement of their character’s characteristics.
But it always involves some reading and the tension of discovering the world. Often such research and the right decision means that players will change their position in the story forever. Therefore, with the help of crosses, they register various flags on a piece of paper, to which the further course of the game can be referred, and on that basis make available to them other paragraphs that adventurers did not even dream of at the beginning of the campaign.
The heroes gradually use their actions, spend endurance points and sooner or later they will meet a duel. To do this, they use the appropriate deck (fights or diplomacy), from which they take three cards and create so-called chains with them in a unique way. They connect the icons on the edges of the cards and those that come together will have some effect. After playing, the opponent gets a chance to perform his ability, so everything alternates, taking lives or moving on the scale of persuasion, until the duel ends in success or disappointment.
When a hero loses a life point, it affects his other scales. Their maximum value is thus reduced and mainly the number of action points that the player can use in the round is adjusted. But he doesn’t have to use them all, because that would make his character exhausted and he wouldn’t be fully healed until the next round. And so players usually end up two points before the end of the scale, and they keep the last two points only for moments when it’s really time.
In each round, however, the heroes must also guard their state of food, because at the end of each day, the player must use one die to avoid losing strength (and action) until the next day. Usually, players restore their endurance points to the fullest (when only four are exhausted), heal one point of life and horror, get a chance to improve their character, and based on their location, they can also experience a dream or nightmare. These bring with them clues, experiences, but they can also mean an increase in the scale of horror.
The game continues to flow the next day. Players gradually complete tasks that give them cards from the deck of events and move them forward through the action. The chapter then ends as soon as these players tell the players.
Tainted Grail follows the stories of unlikely heroes who simply had more courage than others. They felt wronged and set out to seek and help their masters. However, in addition to determination and special skill (which can be used as a point as an action), everyone also received some trauma that throws sticks at his feet in some vital activity.
The course and mechanisms of the game are basically simple, and the rules manual corresponds to this. Most of the action, elections and team tactics then take place in the story itself. Exceptions are decisions about whether to explore the world alone or in a group. There, team members must carefully consider the benefits and difficulties of both possible approaches.
Equally important, however, is resource management, and especially monitoring the status of menhirs. These are, after all, one of the central motifs and thematically the strongest elements of the whole game. Huge statues that illuminate their surroundings and drive away the terrible darkness are the only way to explore more of the world. But igniting such a newly discovered menhir requires a lot of energy and resources.
Closely related to the mentioned course is the fact that there is a pile of readings in the game. Thanks to the fact that everything is in our native language, the passage of texts is smooth. Nevertheless, we recommend (as well as the authors in the rules) to choose only one player to read.
One warning is also related to this. Tainted Grail is not a fairy tale, but a rough experience in which writers do not take napkins and sometimes you feel like you are in a series from HBO. Blood and frightening experiences are not spared here, and in fact the very theme of red death and its processing is frightening. However, if you choose a good chronicler (as the rules call him), then he can omit or modify these controversial places when reading, thus making the game accessible to a more sensitive audience. But then it is clear that it will change the tone and impact of the whole story.
On the other hand, it should be added that the authors themselves encourage similar changes in gameplay. He is not an easy Tainted Grail and defeat is the order of the day. If someone is bothered, they can instead adjust the conditions and enjoy the entire fifteen chapters in a simpler story mode.
But one more thing needs to be said about the story – it’s great! Not only in its course, but also in its scope. The book of stories is huge and thanks to that the playing time of the whole box is easily over thirty hours. Of course, it depends on the individual groups how carefully they follow the storyline or try to discover. But time will not allow them to devote themselves to exploration in complete peace.
But the individual chapters are usually around two hours, which is ideal. It’s long enough for the story to engulf you, but it’s not tight. Players get a chance to save not only between stories, but occasionally during them. Saving the game itself is really simple, just copy the states of the characters and the world into the attached notebook, and then pack everything. Each player will then keep their property in a separate bag.
The main content of the Tainted Grail, of course, is the feeling of constantly discovering something new. Players have a constant sense of choice here, because each location gives them absolute freedom. A package of secrets or references to a book of secrets encoded in stories also contributes to the feeling of discovery.
And then players are constantly tempted to improve their characters if you collect enough experience points. These can be spent not only on additional property points, but above all on cards that give the heroes additional abilities. In addition to experience, an important currency is the reputation that can unlock or close some doors for players in the narrative.
The difficulty is adjusted according to how many players participate in the game. This corresponds in particular to the basic value of the days remaining until the extinction of the lit menhir. At the same time, the game is excellent in any number, while with a larger number of heroes, of course, in addition to the experience, it is also important to coordinate the efforts of all participants.
The game contains an honest introductory scenario, which will show all interested parties the basic mechanisms. However, it is intended for only one participant, while others can either follow or read the text instructions. There is no room for any decision-making, everything is fixed from start to finish and players will try to discover, fight, diplomacy and exhaustion. All thanks to a special tutorial package that is not so easy to find.
Contrary to what the rules tell you, there was an error completing the game and the top card is turned upside down, so look for the text Saved Encounters. Overall, the cards are not the best sorted, and for example, you will have to put the secret package together according to the numbers (although this is only in order to better search for numbers in the future to which a story will refer you).
The workmanship is great. It can be seen that the authors also thought about the details. For example, when exploring an area, you don’t have to turn over the location card at all, because that often means removing several pieces, even a menhir. Instead, the story book at the beginning of the block offers a repetition of all the texts. The exception is the conditions for igniting the menhir. The rules are clear. The graphics of the location cards follow each other, the double-sided boards of the heroes work great and the miniatures of the heroes (and big menhirs) are just the final delicacy. They will be pleased that the Czech translation is also excellent and you will find only a few typos or errors in it.
By purchasing the game Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, you will sew a real whip on yourself, because it is not easy to resist the desire to return to this world and discover its other secrets. Despite the significant price, the purchase is worth it. In proportion to the hours of fun you get for the money invested, the game is doing very well. But you have to keep in mind that replaying will probably not be what someone throws themselves at. You will experience the Tainted Grail story once, it will resonate with you, but there are still not many reasons to play the campaign again.
PS: Coincidentally, the world of cultural experiences has now become saturated with the world from the time of King Arthur. Independently, the series Cursed, Wizards: Tales of Arcadia and now Tainted Grail met here. Just luck?
Review: Tainted Grail The Fall of Avalon – terror and courage
Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is a game full of experiences, rich in story and adventure. It offers a lot of freedom, but still keeps moving forward. The whole many-hour drama is divided into digestible chapters, between which players can easily save their progress. As part of the story, there is a constant discovery of something new, players improve the packs of their characters and their passive abilities. The game is inherently simple and not difficult to learn. The price corresponds to the time you spend in the game. The only real reproach can be the uncompromising horror and bloody elements, which are often part of the story and which can bother someone. Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is the current star of a story experience in the world of board games..
Reader Rating0 Votes
- a harsh and bloodthirsty world may seem too brutal to some
- sorting the cards will make it difficult for you to enter the first game