The creator of Pandemic Legacy is at it again.
- Dirk Knemeyer (Tesla vs. Edison) and Rob Daviau (Risk Legacy) working on new persistent board game.
- An accessible 4X board game that feels a bit like Robinson Crusoe.
- Play through different eras in civilization, from the Stone Age to a future in outer space.
- Kickstarter launches in February; game launches at Essen 2016.
Rob Daviau’s Risk Legacy did the unthinkable – it had players write on the game board. The first Legacy game, it offered progressive gameplay where each game altered future experiences. Recently, Pandemic Legacy carried this idea further, taking the core Pandemic experience and adding permanently mutated viruses, mystery boxes, and advent calendar-style dossiers filled with surprise twists. Daviau isn’t done with the Legacy formula, with two more on the way – the promising Seafall for Plaid Hat Games and the newly revealed Chronicles 1: Origins, which may just prove to be the best of the lot.
The brainchild of Dirk Knemeyer (with Daviau adding his Legacy expertise), Chronicles: Origins, being published by Artana and available at Essen 2016, turns the 4X civilization genre into a more approachable game that has lasting consequences across numerous eras. The first in the series, Chronicles 1, takes place during the Stone Age and early Bronze Age and has you and three of your pals building a nascent civilization. You’ll need to produce resources, explore new areas to expand your cities, and deal with dangerous threats that could lead to society’s ruin.
Essentially a worker placement game, you determine if you want to collect one of three resources – representing technology, growth, and stability – or place one of your two workers on an advancement track tied to one of those three resources. Gain a trait (a Warrior, a Thinker, etc.), explore new territory, or build something that will help maintain the stability of your blossoming civilization.
For me, the most interesting of these options is exploration, because pacifying lands or exploring areas within those lands is tied to an adventure book with narrative passages similar to Tales of the Arabian Nights. Maybe the hills you’ve discovered have a hoard of barbarians who you inadvertently lead back to your village. Or you could find refugees and must decide if you allow them into your village or turn them away. On top of this, there are event cards that resolve at the end of each turn. These can bring some bad news, like a raid you must defend against by sacrificing resources. There are also some opportunities on these event cards, which you can claim by placing a worker and paying the cost.
Robinson Crusoe and Tales of the Arabian Nights are two of my favorite games, and Origins blends the two nicely. Then layer on Daviau’s love for writing on cards, placing stickers, and otherwise permanently altering your game pieces and you have a convergence of incredible experiences that, from the demo I played, truly feel like a cohesive whole. I love that when you pacify a new area, you get to name it. After all, you’re either the first settlers or the recent conquerors of that territory. That’s why our world has the Wet Sea, Cougartown Mountains, and the Totally Plain Plains.
Though my demo was just a taste – there are eight scenarios planned for Chronicles 1 with a likely small expansion released at next year’s BGG.con – there was enough to get the sense that we had a lot of agency in how our society developed. Would we be one of agriculture and peace or an imperialistic civilization? Now imagine taking that across several games, generations of our characters, and building right through to a space age future. Holy shit, right?
The crazy part is that the Bronze Age board is nothing like the Stone Age board. The Bronze Age is more of a game of conflict. Risk and Pandemic Legacy both change the rules of their respective games several times as you progress through the campaigns, but the core of the game doesn’t change. Chronicles won’t be like that. The game will change and evolve. How awesome is that?
Chronicles 1: Origins is expected to arrive on Kickstarter in February. Granted, Kickstarter can be a risky marketplace. Well, there’s little risk with Origins. The prototype is fantastic. Put this one on your “Oh Great, I’m Gonna be Broke Buying All These Games in 2016” list. Also, learn to make more succinct names for your lists.