GAME STORIES (PART 4)
In this continuing series, I am detailing and reviewing the various stories presented in many of the board games on the market. Turns out, most aren’t particularly good, but there are a few exceptions…
Despite my attempts to prove otherwise, I must admit that Grimslingers is not a particularly good game, but it looks fantastic, and it drips with theme. This weird, weird west story of cowboys, sorcerers, and steampunk is brimming with fantastic art and an atmospheric story told through various campaign books. It’s shocking when comparing it to Gloomhaven that Grimslingers can package more story in a box a tenth the size.
What they call the weird west, in the Forgotten West, the Iron Witch has turned an unlikely group of strangers into powerful beings imbued with metal, machines, and elemental powers. Each character, including the super sentient rifle-wielding dog and six-shooter-packing cat, possesses their own backstory on how they came into the cursed lands and found their souls bound to magic. Missions are interconnected with a grand plot playing out between two campaign books.
This immediately tastes like a dark paranormal wild west story, and one honestly better than that Wil Smith movie from decades ago or Jonah Hex from 2010. Unlike other games, I was more interested in playing the game because of Grimslinger’s story rather than its mediocre mechanics. I have often desired someone to rework the setting into a broader, more robust set of rules.
Story Quality: 7/10
LEGACY OF DRAGONHOLT
It’s a safe assumption that Legacy of Dragonholt sacrificed mechanics for its story, as the title is remarkably thin on the former. In fact, the game box comprises of little more than a few tokens and a handful of books. The game is effectively a choose your own adventure with go-faster-stripes. It’s about crafting a story, not winning a game, which you would think would be a winner in this search for board games with an actual good narrative.
Alas, it is a somewhat substandard timeworn fantasy setting where heroes embark on adventures and meet colorful characters along the way. Choices do have consequences, but without a living, breathing games master able to improvise and adjust the narrative as need be, what remains is a somewhat detached experience where things happen, but character arcs and motivation are lacking.
Now with that all being said, I still believe that what Legacy of Dragonholt creates is totally unique, and if Choose Your Own Adventure novels are considered stories, then this one would be as well.
Story Quality: 5/10
LEGENDS OF ANDOR
Another bog-standard fantasy game, Legends of Andor is a cooperative experience where players attempt to solve a time-based puzzle made to resemble a fantasy adventure. There are characters to play, experiences to …ummm…experience, but in the end, it’s about employing a time mechanic to prevent enemies from achieving their objective before players can achieve theirs.
Players complete quests to establish their place in history. Yeah, not much of a story, really, which is ironic as the core theme of the game is the narrator. With Legends of Andor, players are not technically controlling individual people but rather a single person—a storyteller with the thankless responsibility to weave a grand (and likely exaggerated) yarn to keep the attention of an unseen audience. The game features time requirements with no apparent justification to exist other than to imply that spectators wood loses interest. So, best keep events tight.
In fact, it could be implied that the characters presented in the game don’t exist within its own setting and are, in fact, fabrications of a storyteller we are trying desperately to help. The best part of this, however, is that Andor itself is a trilogy with the two sequels being set several years later. The artist (who also designed the game) even made an effort to “age” all the characters to appear older. That takes dedication.
Story Quality: 3/10