Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
I have been part of a regular gaming group for the last 6 years. I have gone from a person that never played Dungeons and Dragons to now taking the role of Dungeon Master. Over those last 6 years, I have been attempting to get some of my friends who are just as inexperienced in D&D when I started, to take a seat at the table.
Unfortunately, bribery and pleading haven’t gotten many of my friends to take the plunge into a full RPG, however, I have succeeded at getting them to play board games that have some of the same characteristics, like Descent.
Today, we will be looking at a game that scratches that co-op fantasy RPG itch, Random Encounters. A game that allows players to experience 3 levels of chaos as they must work together to make it through the obstacles thrown their way. Let’s get into the preview to see if it is a game you want to help get funded.
Each player takes on the role of a character with their own set of unique abilities, heading out for adventure and glory. On the journey, they will have to take on encounters in the Forest, Caves, and Abandoned Kingdom, each with their own Boss Monster waiting for the players. Along the way they will find weapons, armor, and other helpful loot to help them defeat the perils that await them. If the party is able to defeat all three Boss Monsters, they will win the game and their names will be sung by the minstrels for ages.
How to Play:
The game comes with 9 characters for the players to choose. These all vary in health, their values of skills in strength, dexterity and magic, and the special powers they possess. They will also have three spots on their character sheet that show what types of loot their character can equip during the game.
Each level in the game has a unique deck of encounter and loot cards. Players will start with one loot card and are given a six-sided die with the six replaced by a star. The starting player is denoted as the first leader and players are then ready to head into the Forest. Each level progresses in the same way.
1. The Leader draws an Encounter card.
2. The Party resolves the Encounter. These range from monsters you have to defeat, traps to avoid, or events to complete. Each monster has the same set of skills as the characters. Players will attack with the skill of their choice and roll a die to determine damage. Taking that total, minus the skill value for the monster, will give them the number of health to take away. If the players don’t defeat the monster before it gets back to the leader, the monster then attacks. This attack causes equal damage to the entire party.
Trap Encounters are slightly different. They require each player to roll above a certain value or suffer the consequences. If the party is successful, the leader gets a Loot card.
3. The Party can Use, Trade, or Equip Loot.
4. Player on the left becomes the Leader.
The process above will repeat until each player has been the leader for 2 encounters. At this point the Boss Monster card comes into play. If the players defeat him, the entire party will level up and has the opportunity to sell the loot they have collected. After this is done, players will move on to the next level of loot and encounter decks. If the players manage to not have the entire party knocked out before they defeat the final boss, they win the game.
What I like most about Random Encounters is the simplicity of the game. My first read through the rulebook explained everything I needed to know to get started. For different player counts, the game scales by having the number of encounters you face and health value for monsters determined by the number of people playing. I had more fun playing with other players, but I enjoyed the solo game as well. While other games in this same genre have complicated rules or piles of dice to throw each turn, Random Encounters keeps things simple, allowing each encounter move at a blistering pace. You shouldn’t worry that the game will get repetitive and boring due to the simplicity because everything else in the game adds variety to the game experience.
Each of the characters in the game represent traditional roles played by RPG players such a healers, wizards and meat shields. None of the characters have the same skills values or powers and that allows for you to play completely differently, depending on the one you choose to play. I especially like the leader and battle abilities of each character.
The leader ability only is in effect when the player is the leader for that encounter and they give aid to everyone in the party. The battle ability is activated when a player rolls a star when they attack or make a trap check. While you don’t get to use these abilities all the time, they add personality to each character and can be the determining factor when players are deciding which character to pick.
There are 75 cards in both the Encounter and Loot decks. This allows for each game to have their own unique set of cards they will see during the game. The Encounter cards do a good job of throwing different things at you. While fighting some iconic fantasy monsters is a tense experience, the traps are even worse. Because most of them require a specific skill to conquer, players who overly specialize in one skill could find themselves in some trouble. It also forces you to be on your own rather than fighting a monster as a team.
To help the players with the tougher Encounter cards in the deck, players are given many Loot cards during the game. Each of them gives a little flavor to your character as the game progresses, as well as helping them during combat and dealing with traps. Having a wizard with a Gnarled Cane and Ring of Zinitra adds more story to their journey than generic weapons.
It is also great that you are able to sell and trade your loot during the game. A lot of the time you will pull a card that you are unable to use but is perfect for another person in your party. Being able to trade in old and inferior loot for a new card also gives players the chance to pull that one item or equipment they need to fight the final monster. You will need every advantage you can get before facing those brutes.
Random Encounters lives up to its name by providing a fun and unique RPG experience each time you play. It gives you interesting characters, vicious monsters, exciting loot, and leveling up your hero which is the core of RPGs. Random Encounters provides a great entry point for players new to those core experiences because it is so easy to teach. If you are looking to get an RPG experience in a much shorter amount of time consider giving Random Encounters your support on Kickstarter.
If you’d like to become a backer, pledges start at $39 for the full game and stretch goals. Random Encounters is scheduled to be in backers hands in March of 2016 and you have until Monday, August 17th to become a backer. Head over today and check it out.