As I approached, it was just an ordinary hut. My senses have been clouded by a long travel full of mosquitoes and no sleep, so I did not notice strangely shaded windows or claws on the inside of the door. I would never enter such a room unarmed with my senses being sharp. But it happened, and now I am bound up near the fireplace and waiting to see, what the ugly witch wants to do with me.
Are you in for bargaining with the witch or setting yourself free using sheer strength? What would the most famous fighter of all time, muscular and invincible Conan do? We have to each find answer for ourself, and Fred Henry, who has created a massive board game with simple name Conan, can help us do so. His creation was given its final appearance under flag of Monolith company and was published in 2016 with illustrations of many authors, such as Adrian Smith and Georges Cl4renko. The entire box is then in the European distribution of Esdevium Games.
Within a massive box with picture of Conan surrounded by a host of enemies, players find a large number of components. However, before players begin to gaming, they first have to select the scenarios (from the Overlord booklet) and then choose corresponding map placing it in the center of the table. It is always divided by lines into smaller squares, but nicely blend with graphics.
Evil side must start with setup first, after one of players chooses to be dark overlord. According to the chosen scenario, he takes apropriate minions (tiles), tokens and prepares card deck. After that, he places Skelos book (board with different positions) in front of himself, fills it up with red stones and, above all, unit tiles into the so-called river (creating a row). He also takes a board with a scale, marks first turn and uses also one token for each of his stronger minions to mark their health. Other players choose one of the four available heroes (Conan, Belit, Hadrathus and Shevatas), get his board, miniature, starting cards and a set of blue energy stones. These are placed in the left zone of the board into the reserve space.
At the beginning of each round stand heroes who, one by one, choose their attitude – cautious or aggressive – and, according to it may recover some of their strength by moving points of fatigue used from past turns back into reserve.
In the main action phase, however, they can alternate completely according to their team ideas and work together on their efforts against a single enemy – the overlord. They can arbitrarily move heroes, attack enemy units and perform other actions or take advantage of the possibility of rolling a dice. For each activity, player must first move one or more stones from his power supply (stamina) to your chosen action. This spot is then blocked and can not be used again this turn. Each stone means a dice, which the player gets the chance to add to his roll for success, up to the maximum indicated by the red number.
Stones are placed on action boxes from where they will be moved to the fatigue zone later. Heroes can take advantage of any amount of their stamina for current turn and available activities. But they should also think of the bad guy, whose turn follows. There may be situations in this phase, when they will need to defend themselves and thus use some free stamina. After completing the activities, the good party must move all the forces used to the fatigue position.
Heroes then pass turn to their enemy, who will be able to use some of his units on the map to achieve his dark plans. Many bad guys already start on the board, while others can be deploy by paying the value shown in the lower-right corner. However, activation of the units again needs, just like with heroes, stones of energy. They are moved between two positions – reserve and fatigue. The activation of the unit cost depends on value of the box – number above that unit’s tile on the Overlord board. After activating that minion, player shifts it to the rightmost position in the river and cost for its activation rises. Other creature tiles are moved to the left to fill up the now empty space on the river. The sooner the player wants to activate that creature again, the bigger the cost will be.
Even these dark creatures can move and attack. Overlord also uses dice against which the heroes can defend themselves. If they had any remaining stamina from their previous turn. Basic enemies have only one life point. Life force of the stronger ones is then tracked on a scale, where their master slides tokens, whenever they are injured, until they reach zero. Units on this side of battle have their assigned value of armor, which corresponds to defense, and heroes have to overcome it with their rolls and bonuses from possible weapons. Overlord can also use special benefits or spells in exceptional situations.
Both sides have their own tasks. It can be about killing a character, escaping the map or holding a position for some time. The side of the conflict is victorious, when it fulfills its task. Good guys or Overlord can celebrate victory at this moment.
Conan is again evidence of how a common scenario battle game between two sides can once again spark an interest in two opposing groups. On one side, player will stand by himself and fight against heroes, who work as a team.The fun comes from both positions, and it is up to the players to decide whether they are better off on the side of good or evil. However, it is always good to try out both positions because that’s how players are getting better in the game.
There is a surprising emphasis on combat. The board is not so big for heroes and monsters to move, so there is not so much space to avoid conflicts. This game is full of fighting. And it’s pure dice battles, which may be bad news for somebody. But luck goes well with these atmospheric games, because of the tension that comes with it.
Both sides have similar options, but overlord has, of course, numerical surge already since the beginning of the match. He starts with a lot of units already on board and some common even in larger numbers. These are activated together. And their usage is perfectly solved by the river, where the price of activation changes depending on how often you want to use the unit. That’s why it’s too hard for the overlord to use the same figure multiple times, so he has to plan much more forward. This makes his role really difficult.
But even the heroes do not have a simple situation balancing their actions. They have a free hand in the selection from many activities, but at the same time they exhaust their hero by using more stones, trying to make that action stronger. They have no turns to alternate in. They just talk and do what’s best for their tactics.
And cooperation is absolutely crucial. Players must communicate and plan against their common opponent. The opposite side of the battlefield has its charm above all by ruining their plans. On the hero’s board, there is also a third position, where the stones are moved in the event of an injury. Each wound influences the hero even for the following turns, stealing his stamina.
Each of the available scenarios may belong to one of three difficulty categories. Each map offers its special rules. In total, there are nine of them and all have some prescribed number (or range) of players to play in. Map and winning conditions are tuned for this number. That’s bad news for anyone who wants to play Conan in two or three rivals. The game itself would work very well, but there is only one scenario for duel and three players have a choice from two. Rest of the stories is for higher numbers, but of course this is where team element of heroes becomes the most significant. You will succeed best, if you are four, which is the ideal number for this game.
Unfortunately, the main complaint is related to scenarios – there is no campaign in the box that would push the overall experience even further. Each match is about two hours long and gives you a feel, how great the game could be if connected. Therefore, any character development is missing. They have only few items, that give them special skills.
Of course there are many details in the game, that we have missed in the description. For example, need to have target in sight (and range), advantage of a higher ground and, above all, hindering actions. This can be used when moving or rolling dice if enemies are in the same place. Fields also have limitations in terms of capacity, heroes can open chests or throw objects. When the attack is blocked, the hero can decide whether to defend actively or rely on his armor.
Processing is excellent from a graphical and qualitative point of view. Unfortunately, the overall impression is spoiled by the handbooks, although they have enough text, but they are unfortunately divided into hero and overlord booklet. Moreover, they are not sufficiently detailed and some principles are not explained clearly.
Conan offers luxurious mechanisms when it comes to activating units on both sides of the heroic battle. Players can choose one evil master among themselves, while everyone else will remain on the side of good. Movement, struggle and rest.These are all ingredients necessary for victory. And there’s one more – luck. Dice are your friend and enemy, and that can be a problem for somebody. But still, if you ignore the initial problem with the rules, then Conan is an excellent adventure game.
+ excellent different scenarios
+ apropriate game time
+ great mechanism of hero fatigue
+ overlord unit activation system
+ game is exciting and full of contact from start to finish
+ great heroic theme
+ graphic processing
- missing campaign
- few scenarios for fewer players
- incomplete rules