With the ascendance of crowd funding there are so many weird and wonderful games coming out that we as gamers are truly spoiled for choice nowadays. When coming up to a new game like Drakerys you never quite know what to expect. I however had the pleasure of meeting some of the guys from Don’t Panic Games and getting a demo of it this week in Paris. The end result is that I ended up investing quite substantially in the Kickstarter, why? Well that’s what I’m going to tell you all about here. For those of you who haven’t seen the Kickstarter page yet I recommend giving it a look before we get started and for those who have seen it and are still hesitant, well, I hope this will help point you in the right direction!
Lets start with the most obvious thing: the models. Don’t Panic have done a really solid job with their artistic direction. The world has a very classic fantasy feel yet with a very modern, stylish take on it. From the human armour style and the shape of the orcs heads to the funky mix between wood elf and drow of the elven faction. It respects the classic fantasy theme whilst giving it a fresh new style. Dare I say I can even feel a bit of the old (and sorely missed!) Confrontation style in there, something that I can only appreciate!
The models themselves are very well sculpted, great detail, nice and crisp and…in hard plastic! No resin or the dreaded restic for these boys! The majority of the models are multi part so as to allow different weapon configurations which give you a lot more tactical choice and from the point of view of the model range allows them to have more options available right from the launch!
So far we have Irosia (Human), Ashral (Orks) and Avaren (Elves) with Aurium (Dwarves) to come once the stretch goal is reached (and I’m pretty sure it will be!). Each faction has a great, original feel to it and I’m a fan of some of the more…unorthodox units you find within each such as Minotaurs for the Irosians and Blood Banes (giant berserker elves) for the Avarens. It really adds to the character of each army (knights accompanied by Minotaurs is a pretty cool idea!) and gives you the chance to field very original forces when compared to other fantasy games.
Of course most people’s aspirations go further then just acquiring and painting models, so what’s the game like? Well in a word its very refreshing, it fills the niche between skirmish and ranked combat really well in allowing a nice freedom of movement for your units but as the combat phase works more like a rank and file ‘block’ melee with the unit fighting as one entity, keeping the models close enough together so that they can support one another gives you important bonuses.
Mechanics wise everything revolves around a D10, a refreshing concept for a wargame, where target numbers are ascertained via the opposition table. Now don’t worry we’re not talking the behemoth of a table like in GW’s games but rather a line where you subtract your opponents defensive value from your offensive value in order to attain a target result. Simple and intuitive. It should be noted also that a roll of 10 is ‘explosive’ Ie. It allows an additional dice to be rolled for more hits/wounds. There are no armour saves, however, the humble shield allows you to discount these additional dice making this defensive option very viable as these critical hits crop up more often then you might think!
Now on to what is no doubt the most interesting mechanic of Drakerys: The Time Path. The path is made up of Time sections and each action in the game costs Time (TS). Whilst Drakerys uses an alternate activation system, it’s not just me/you/me/you. The active player is determined by the army marker that is the least advanced along the Time Path. Each time you activate a unit you move your counter along the track as a result of your actions however, as long as you do not overtake your opponents marker you remain the active player! As a guide line, a standard movement action costs 1TS, charging costs 3TS (moves further, engages combat and provides bonuses to your rolls that round) and summoning an elemental (more on that later) costs 2TS.
This allows you to activate multiple units if your opponent has shot ahead on the track. The only way they can be that far ahead however is if they have performed a lot of actions which will generally have an adverse effect on your own forces (hopefully for them anyway!). This means that the ball is now in your court though giving you the resources to strategically manoeuver and launch your counter attack. If both markers are on the same spot its the last player to have arrived on that section (physically the marker that is on top of the other one) who is active, allowing you to squeeze in another cheeky unit activation.
When talking about the time path and unit activations we must mention stress markers! Stress markers are what stop you from using one powerful unit to zoom around the board beating everyone up and making for a generally boring game. Quite simply every time you finish activating a unit it gains a stress token, these represent the general fatigue and disarray that comes with pushing your troops too hard. In the game is means that each of their actions cost an additional TS and they suffer a malus during combat resolution. You can therefore activate a unit multiple times in succession however you will put yourself further and further ahead on the time path giving your opponent more scope to retaliate.
How do you get rid of this stress? Every time your army counter arrives at the start of the time path you discard 1 stress marker from each of your units. I find that these 2 gameplay elements combined give you some real tactical choices to make when playing. Do you risk it all on one big manoeuvre and hope that you cause enough damage so that your opponents can’t capitalise on his TS adavantage or do you stay with small actions from multiple units in order to stay behind your opponent on the time track? Either way each player has to make sure they get round the track in a timely fashion so as to get rid of their stress markers. This is a system that is fun and easy to learn yet difficult and intriguing to master!
Now on to the elements. As you may of gleamed from the KS page they are an important part of the game. When setting up a table each player deploys 2 vortexes, one in each quadrant of the board with an elemental maelstrom in the middle. Each one of these nexus points allows you to summon heralds and overlords or cast spells based on the vortex’s element with the Maelstrom counting as every element. Heralds project and aura which depending on their type gives powerful bonuses to your units whereas overlords are generally more orientated towards de-buffing and damaging units. Spells require you to be in the vicinity of the required element in order to cast with certain spells needing multiple elements (eg. Hailstorm = Wind & Water) and their effects vary greatly from damage to buffing and de-buffing. Each spell has multiple levels of power with effects that ramp up or change completely depending on the number of successes rolled on the dice. Mages can spend TS in order to roll more dice and attain more powerful effects when they cast spells.
Apart from being objectives in certain scenarios, Vortexes are an important element to consider during your army and strategy creation. Which elements do you need in order to get a desired tactical effect or bonus? As they are placed alternatively by the players, with the winner of the initiative roll off choosing first, should you make your strategy flexible around 2 or 3 elements in order to ensure you get access to at least one or two of the vortexes? Or do you aggressively take the centre in order to delve deep into the power of the maelstrom, a very powerful nexus point that should not be used with impunity however!
The above are no doubt my favourite parts of the game, the ones that really stood out to me when playing, for more details You can download a free copy of the starter rules HERE. I could go on and on about the other great elements but I can only hold your attention for so long and there’s one last thing I’d like to talk about: The Kickstarter.
At the time of writing this there are 3 days to go on the KS campaign, its almost 500% funded with just a small push needed to unlock the last army for the game: The dwarfs of Aurium!
Now these guys have run one hell of a Kickstarter, loads of stretch goals with new armies and miniatures, new accessories such as awesome terrain and nexus markers. As a backer I really feel that they are putting the funding to good use and you really can trust them to make sure you get the most bang for your buck by the end of the campaign!
So if you’re still undecided after reading all this it can’t be because you guys don’t trust me (you trust me right?) there must be something else. So lets talk dosh, moolah, cold hard cash. We all know the sad truth is that we can’t have ALL the models we want (silly real life obligations!) so why is this Kickstarter worth your monetary commitment?
If you are interested in the game then I will put this simply, you want to get on board NOW as there are some serious deals to be had here. At even the basic 2 player ‘explorer’ pack level you get the 2 player box as well as lots of the stretch goals and KS exclusive goodies, all for $110. Now remember that’s in Dollars remember people so its £65 or €80 and I think we can all agree that that is damn cheap for two people to start playing a new game, especially something as good as Drakerys!
If you want to go for even lower: army boxes can be had for just $60! They also include everything you need to play from models to dice, cards and the rule book!
Even their ultimate bundle at $666 (£390 or €490) is tempting for those who can permit it as the amount of gear in there is just ABSURD. Yeah the price is high but look at what you get: 3 (soon to be 4) BIG armies, ALL the add-ons and stretch goals (a lot of them x2) as well as the equivalent of a fully kitted out games table to play on! If there are 3 or 4 of you tempted by the game then all of a sudden the price really isn’t that high any more! Just see for yourself below!
For those of you wondering what kind of savings these packs provide then we’re talking around 50% of the RRP. So you bargain hunters out there are going to have a field day!
So there you go guys, whether you’re in for a penny or in for a pound I can’t recommend enough that you at least consider pitching in on this game’s development. The models are beautiful and well thought out, the game system is fun, refreshing and challenging and finally you have the opportunity to get some great deals and that’s not even counting the fact that Don’t Panic Games have a lot of plans for Drakerys: new models, scenario based world development, a solid tournament system. This game is going places and when it does you can stand their with your KS exclusive models and say “I was there!”
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer as best I can! Otherwise I hope to see you guys on the battlefields of the Valgar Islands!