Don’t you hate when giants… err, Leviathans, lose their minds and show up in your neighborhood, forcing you, your children, your children’s children, as well as the next several generations of your kin to move into the Underdark?
Leviathan Wilds lets you and up to three others crawl out of your 12 Monkeys simulator and cooperatively purify these Leviathans, all from the comfort of your gaming table.
Leviathan Wilds is a cooperative game in which players strategically maneuver Climbers (their character) across the huge Leviathan’s body to shatter the crystals that are driving them insane. Games take about 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the player count and the complexity of the Leviathan.
The game takes place over a variable number of rounds, with each round made up of five turns. The following four steps are completed each turn:
• Reveal Threat: the facedown threat card farthest left on the Threat Board is flipped and the event or action is revealed—it does NOT occur yet
• Activate Climber: The active Climber plays one card at the top of their Player Board, generating action points (AP) to spend during their turn. Players spend AP to:
• Climb: move one space in any orthogonal direction (1 AP)
• Jump: move two spaces in any orthogonal direction or one space diagonally (2 AP)
• Glide: Move down or down diagonal (X AP)
• Strike: damage the crystals (X AP)
The HP of the crystals are represented by a D6. Once the D6 is at zero, it is removed, and players are one step closer to saving the Leviathan
• Rest: Shuffle your discard pile back into your Grip (draw deck, representing your ability to hold onto the Leviathan (2AP). This action must take place on a ledge or on the ground.
• Mend: Heal one damage (1AP)
• Resolve the Threat: NOW the threat card is resolved
• Draw back up to three cards in your hand: if your Grip pile is empty after taking these cards, you fall.
At the end of each round, the threat cards are reshuffled, the rage track is advanced and, if appropriate, threat card(s) are rotated to their enraged side. Rounds are repeated until the Leviathan defeats the Climbers or all the crystals are destroyed.
If you enjoy cooperative gaming and strategically solving puzzles together, Leviathan Wilds could be the perfect game for you.
There are two main takeaways I had while playing the prototype.
First, there is significant replay value. Your Climber deck consists of two sets of cards shuffled together:
• Class set – eight cards and potentially an additional ability. There are seven unique classes
• Character set – each character has a special ability and has one to three cards. Remember, more cards = more Grip = longer between rests. There are seven unique characters.
Should you combine Fix, a character excellent at destroying crystals, with the Freelancer set so you can more easily traverse the Leviathan, or would you prefer the Striker class, doubling down on crystal destruction? There are so many choices… well, forty-nine to be exact. Which Climber do you want to control? Will they be suited for the Leviathan you are staring down?
There are fifteen unique Leviathans to confront. Open the binder to the pages for your opponent, then align the binder horizontally or vertically based on the art. You now have your Leviathan map, including terrain such open spaces (jump is handy moving across these ), difficult terrain (lose one Grip), and ledges (places to rest). While each Leviathan “only” has five threat cards, because they are reshuffled every five rounds and cards will be flipped to their enrage side based on the Rage Track, no round plays out the same. Exploring the strategies and Climber combinations to conquer the different beasts is very enjoyable. (NOTE: The Character and Class sets, as well as the Leviathans, have a one to four complexity rating to assist with these choices).
Of course, the game would not be entertaining if it were only about building your Climber and choosing a Leviathan. The gameplay must have a hook. For Leviathan Wilds, the hook is the strategy in its multiuse cards, cooperative gameplay, and delayed Leviathan action resolution.
Every Climber card in your hand provides either your AP for the turn or a skill that is on the card. If used for AP, you get the AP points indicated on the card as well as any terrain protections below it, such as preventing damage, difficult terrain, or blight from striking blighted crystals. If not used for AP, you can use the card for its skill at any time, even if it is not your turn.
For example, Pull Up!, a card from the Herald Class set, allows any climber to move up one space orthogonally or diagonally. Sounds simple, right? Well, it can be used by the active player on any climber OR any non-active player on any climber. This is where the cooperative strategy shines. Do you play this card to help another Climber on their turn or do you save it for yourself? The Grip mechanism makes this decision even harder. It is MANDATORY to draw up to three cards at the end of your turn. Playing cards while not the active player means you will have more cards to draw at the end of your active turn. Remember, if you have no cards in your Grip pile, you fall.
I also like the ability of a Climber to react to the Leviathan’s threat before it is resolved. Think of it like slow power resolution from Spirit Island, but in your favor this time. I lost count of the number of times an excellent plan was destroyed by the revealed threat. But as a testament to the game, I did not find this FRUSTRATING as I had time to react to it. What makes this game different is that you must establish a strategy to get to the crystals but react tactically as each turn develops.
As I am running out of word count, I have three parting thoughts:
• I loved the art and cannot wait to see the final production copy
• I appreciate how simple the game is to teach, but how deep the interactions can be, especially with playing cards to help the active Climber
• Quarterbacking may be an issue with players with differing experience levels
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Leviathan Wilds and have been looking forward to its campaign relaunch for months. It reminds me of what Shadow of the Colossus would be if it were not a video game but a multiplayer board game and, for me, that is a good thing!
And for those of you who hate Kickstarter because it is becoming a preorder system used by big board game publishers, this campaign is the type of campaign you may be looking to support. Moon Crab Games is an independent publisher that will rely on Kickstarter funding to get this game published.
If you are interested in learning more about Leviathan Wilds or backing the campaign, it will be launching on Kickstarter on May 9th at 8:00 AM Pacific/11:00 AM Eastern.