Monkey kickstarted The Others by Cool Mini or Not some time ago, but it hadn’t made it to the table for one reason or another. After finishing off Doom the Board Game (more on that soon…) we were looking to fill a few weeks before kicking back into Star Wars Imperial Assault, so thought this might make a nice filler (plus I think Monkey probably wanted to get it to the table!).
This is another one vs many game, with one player taking the role of the Sin (each of the seven deadly sins are represented, plus the four horsemen of the apocalypse), and the other players (up to four) taking the role of Federal Agency for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors (or FAITH for short). The FAITH players pick a leader, and six other characters, two each of shooters, bruisers and fixers (each having a relevant specialisation), with each player starting controlling one of these and rotating to a new one when their character dies. When the FAITH player can’t pick a new character, they lose. Each mission has a different path to victory for the FAITH operatives, and whilst the two we’ve played have ultimately been a ‘kill the king’ style mission, there are other missions which feature different win mechanics.
The Cool Mechanics
The FAITH operatives can choose or be forced to incur corruption throughout the game. Voluntarily incurring corruption as part of a test awards another dice to the operatives pool for that test (combat or focus), as well as granting cumulative benefits for each corruption incurred, making the operative much more powerful the further along the track they get. The downside is, once the track is full (it’s seven slots long), any further corruption grants a wound, and each wound is placed over a benefit on the corruption track. Once the operative incurs a fifth wound they are dead and out of play.
This is a very cool push your luck style mechanic, and ultimately seems like a very balanced choice later in the game. Early on, it always feels like you have to incur corruption to get anything done, due to the relative power level of your characters vs the Sins player.
Each turn, and under certain circumstances, the Apocalypse track advances, granting the Sins player bonuses. There’s seven levels to the track (seeing a pattern here?), and the power of the benefits granted to the Sin player grow exponentially as it progresses. This imposes a very real time pressure on the FAITH players to move through the mission at hand, as the level of disadvantage ramps up heavily as the game advances.
The theme of the game is well done, and there’s plenty of flavour in here with many funny and cool riffs on pop culture throughout. As a big Lovecraft fan, the idea of interdimensional horrors is always a winner for me, and the fact there’s a government agency tasked with fighting them somewhat reminds me of Charles Stross’ Laundry Files series. The fact that FAITH seems to be a secular organisation for the most part is also a nice touch, with the religious driven characters being a sub-faction only. This sub faction, represented in the Men of Faith expansion, contains five FAITH characters and interestingly only one of them has a Western/Christian vibe to him.
The Stuff I Don’t Like
So, a couple of issues out of the gate for me initially, first of which is the luck factor of the game. In our first hit-out we didn’t hit very good equipment, so ignored it for the most part, and then ended up in situations where we always felt we needed lucky rolls to succeed, rather than being able to stack the odds in our favour meaningfully.
Secondly, in the ‘kill the king’ missions we played it seemed too easy for the Sins player to ‘hide’ his king (the Avatar). The first game, FAITH operatives would have to survive moving through acolytes in surrounding squares (an automatic wound if you move out of an enemy’s square), four fire tokens in the square where the Avatar was (each a one in three for a wound), before getting to swing at the Avatar. Then, if they got to hit, they had essentially zero chance of surviving due to the number of monsters in the square, so had to single shot the Avatar. This is leaving aside that the Avatar was in a building, which negates ranged attacks so you had to get into the Avatars square to even attempt a hit. Very frustrating, but something that may even out over other styles of missions.
This is a themeatically cool game, with some very interesting mechanics. The models included with the game are also very high quality (as you’d expect from CMON), and I’ll do a separate post talking about them in more detail in future. I expect we’ll get a it to the table a couple more times, but it’s longevity may be limited as it lacks campaign progression and the missions are likely to get ‘samey’ once you’ve played a few.I’m also hoping that the luck driven elements are just our understanding and ability and this will drop off as we play more, I like dice but also like to feel my decisions can stack them in my favour! That said, good fun so far and looking forward to more plays.