Alone in the Dark
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you may know that I play most games solo, and sometimes cooperatively with my wife. Rarely do we venture into competitive games.
So, for this blog, I will focus on Godforsaken Scavengers as a solo venture, which should give you a sense of what the core mechanics are that apply to competitive and cooperative scenarios alike.
My ultimate goal is to provide you an account of my experience with the game’s print-and-play generously provided to me by Drawblack, in hopes that it aids you in making your final decision about the game.
What’s in a Game?
You might ask, what is Godforsaken Scavengers? Well, as of this writing, it’s a game on Kickstarter with a little over a week left to go. The premise is that players are a part of a race of sentient insect-like creatures, trying to survive in a matrix of caves where ominous threats lurk in the darkness.
In order to survive, players must scavenge from one of three decks in a press-your-luck style phase of the game. If players find beneficial cards, these can be used as food or kept for their positive effects. However, if players stumble upon traps or other threats, the consequences could range from trauma to death, if not mitigated. In this way, the game creates a tense aura of dread about what might be on the reverse of your next card draw.
In the solo scenario, you represent a crazed prophet who just might have what it takes to lead the hive through apocalyptic terror to a better tomorrow. In order to do so, you must first traverse six areas and rejoin the hive in the seventh, bearing spoils of your journey to prove your worth.
I started the game with three cards and an affliction, meaning that I was only two afflictions away from madness and death. Gulp.
Nonetheless, the three cards in my hand provided me some choices, such as ignoring the effects of perils or scouting ahead to see what I would encounter, before deciding where to scavenge.
Since scavenging is the central mechanic, I spent much of my time deliberating just how many cards I would risk drawing. In areas where the total amount of food I needed to survive was relatively low, it was tempting to keep going to try to stock up on better cards. But on one occasion, I lost all my scavenged and gained two afflictions to lose the game, as a result!
For a small game, there was indeed a robust set of choices–and also some luck to factor into those decisions. No guts, no glory.
You might think that the game would grow repetitive, with all the drawing, collecting cards, and spending them to feed; however, there are a few things that offset this potential.
First, the game forces you to move on after every round.
If anyone has ever played an MMORPG, you might be familiar with the practice of camping out in an area and grinding through enemies, just to get better gear, more experience, and hopefully, some much-needed cash.
Godforsaken Scavengers puts a firm limit on how long you can employ this tactic before you get a bad draw or just face the practical reality of what you and others could actually use or carry. This might feel slightly punishing, but actually maintains the tension of the game.
Second, each location and scenario has its own requirements that might affect your strategy. Do you need to have more food than the next guy or gal to win? Then, maybe you risk taking one more card… Or, perhaps you stop when that dangerous-looking three-spear card back comes up, in hopes that another player will have to deal with the consequences, instead of you.
In my playthrough, my back was against the wall in the final area, and I had to keep drawing cards, so I had enough to show the people I could provide for them.
If I succeeded, I would fulfill the win condition of the scenario, and become their prophet-leader. (I won once and lost twice, so there’s definitely a challenge to be had.)
Ultimately, for a quick game, there was a good amount to hold my interest, which stands out in a field where games can sacrifice depth for speed of play.
Variants and Wishes
Even though there is much to recommend the game to me, I do have some hopes for it, in terms of variants or extra content.
As it is, the game comes with a caravan variant that can be added to scenarios, where players must feed a caravan, but also can gain access to some extra cards that the caravan is carrying. This seems promising.
The stretch goals for the Kickstarter promise a campaign mode, which could be exciting, but is perhaps not as alluring for a short game as the nine unique characters stretch goal. I imagine that being able to employ a special ability as a strategic option would enrich the game, and keep me coming back to replay challenges as different characters, in order to see if I could master them all.
As awesome as extra content sounds, even if the game had nothing further added, it would still enter my rotation as a go-to solo game, based on the ease of set-up, quickness of play, and variety of choices for the duration of the game.
If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to address them.