Excerpt: Conan is a miniature-based board game that pits one player, the overlord, who controls hordes of savage tribesmen, no-good lowlifes and undead minions against 1 to 4 players who incarnate the legendary Conan and his fellow adventurers. The gameplay is asymetric, as the overlord possesses a large selection of models and objectives which are his own, whereas the brave heroes are played from a first person perspective, much like in a role playing game. An adventure can be played out in 1 hour on one of the beautiful game boards as you pit your wits, daring and tactical acumen against your opponent
In case you are not aware, Conan is one of the most successfully funded Kickstarter games, racking in a whooping $3.3 million, from just a target of $80,000. All that success aside, it is one of the most frustrating Kickstarter Campaigns ever too. Backers who backed the campaign, had to wait for close to 2 YEARS, just to get their hands on it.
But now that it has arrived, all is forgiven as we gleefully rubbed our hands together like a 5 year old kid, with maxed out anticipation, waiting to unwrap the gift and dive straight in. In this review, we will only be reviewing the retail edition of Conan (core box only), so it will give you a better perspective on what to expect out of this box.
The first thing that you would probably notice is that the box is huge. It weighs in at around 3-4kg and as expected from a miniature game, carries a ton of miniatures. The quality and artsmanship of each and every individual piece is outstanding. It makes it so much easier to match each miniature with their corresponding character cards.
WHERE ARE THE ZIP LOCK BAGS? Do yourself a favor and get some zip lock bags from SKP or NTUC before punching out the tokens. The box does not provide any spare zip lock bags.
Conan is one probably one of the most straight forward miniature game I have ever played, period. Other miniature games that I enjoy in the past include Arcadia Quest and Star Wars: Imperial Assualt but even to explain how to play those games, it would take me a good 15 minutes to explain how to move, 30 minutes to explain what the cards do, an hour to do a demo. You get the point.
In Conan, the Overlord picks a campaign from his Overlord book and sets up the board accordingly, all while reading out the special rules that apply to that particular campaign. There are a number of varieties to these campaigns. 1 campaign would see the Overlord hiding a princess, ready to sacrifice her, perhaps in the hopes of bringing calm to his village that has been plagued by natural disasters as of late. Or another campaign where the Overlord would be setting up defences in his fortress to protect his treasure, trying his best to fend off the notorious barbarian called Conan.
Being barbarians, the other players would use brute force, magic and sorcery to achieve their objectives, often leaving monsters in a trail of blood. (Damn. Who are the good guys now?)
And now the best part: the Overlord Dashboard! Seriously, this is where the magic happens! This Dashboard gives the Overlord an overview of his units and the actions that he is able to take. It balances the game pretty well as Overlords are constrained by both the amount of red gems in their reserve zone, as well as the high costs incurred if they choose to spam an action from an unit over and over again.
Let’s say an Overlord would like to move and attack with the Pict Warriors with Purple base in the example above. He/she would have to move 3 red gems from the Reserve (green) zone to the Fatigue (red zone). He/she would then be able to activate these warriors and move 2 steps as indicated on their character card and attack any enemy with 2 yellow dice rolls. The Pict Warriors (Purple Base) card would then be taken out and placed in the back of the dashboard, pushing all other cards forward.
In this case, if the Overlord should choose to activate the Pict Warriors (Purple Base) again, they would have to move 8 gems now to their fatigue zone. This would force the Overlord to really think twice and strategize accordingly. If you are down on gems, be prepared to lose alot of units really, really fast.
Heroes are limited by the same concept as well, having to spend precious blue gems to move around, attack, perform actions etc.. Oh and another reason why these gems are so precious is because each time you would take damage, you lose 1 of these gems to the dreaded brown zone (which name currently eludes me), where you are not able to recover them for the remainder of the game. When all your gems are in the brown zone, thanks for playing. You are officially out of the game.
Again, this mechanic acts as a balance to deter players from just charging and attacking anything they see in their sights, like a frenzied maniac. It also makes for a memorable game experience when you see heroes running for their lives as they are chased around by Pict Warriors, Pirates and Hyenas.
Combat in Conan is pretty straight forward too. Most enemies in this game has 1 life point, except the badass bosses. For example, Pict Warriors all have 1 armor point each, as indicated on their character card. Add to their initial base of 1 life point, Conan would only need 2 success symbols (axe symbol) to slay a Pict Warrior. And since Conan rolls the red dice for this attack (strongest dice in the game), you can just imagine him running around killing hordes in 1 single action.
And since Conan rolls the red dice for this attack (strongest dice in the game), you can just imagine him running around killing hordes in 1 single action. Other characters though, excel in movement or even ranged attacks and it makes for a replayable gaming experience.
That’s about it for the Gameplay. Straight forward, isn’t it? Establish the campaign, set up the board and start playing. It is so simple that my 3 year old niece could start playing with me straight away. And I would, if only she can stop attempting to bite off the head of the Giant Snake.
To sum it up, as a miniature-heavy game, it is one of the easiest games to get into, period. There’s no simultaneous equations to solve when calculating damage, there’s no overly complicated cards with 20 lines of text that actually tells you only to reroll all your dice. There is in fact only (usually) 1 main objective per campaign and it is a race between both sides to see who can achieve it first.
Playing as the Overlord and as one of the heroes do offer players a different board gaming experience too. As an Overlord, you feel all powerful and omnipotent, able to command units at ease and triggering events at will. Playing as one of the heroes though, planning ahead is the key to victory, whether you want to divide and conquer, or coming together to breach through impeccable defences.
But no matter which side you are on, you are sure to love the sculpturing of the miniatures as well as the fast paced gameplay, making you feel like a scheming Overlord, a glorious warrior or a coward who keeps running away from battles.
You will love this if you…
- Love intricate miniatures (Tons of it, in fact!)
- Are scheming
- Love teamwork
- Like to have a good laugh, no matter how favorable or unfavorable the dice roll is