Shadows Upon Lassadar
Teaching Time: 15 mins
Playing Time: 45 mins
Setup Time: 5 mins
Value For Money: High
Price: Print and Play
Solo Play Review
Shadows Upon Lassadar is a stunning looking game dripping with atmosphere. Its a middle tricky build but it does ask for quite a high number of Euro cubes. For a solo play, dark fantasy basis for your stories its second to none, PnP or not. If it has a problem, which I'll get to later, its that I wanted it a lot more from it.
Play involves flipping a set of cards representing your journey through the shadow king's blighted land of Lassadar and the locations you encounter. Battles require you to roll dice for you and your enemies, who have a continual edge in dice numbers which you can redress by casting spells. Managing your stock of spell casting fuel, and the order you choose to learn your spells, in is 90% of your agency in the game, the rest result from when to use certain beneficial cards or bail out from combat. Certain cards bring the shadow king closer to the Lassadar of the title down a game track, and some drive him back; if he reaches it darkness descends and you lose. Once you notch up enough wins to learn a few meatier spells you can take on locking one of the gates that hold him back, lock all three and a new dawn rises on a safe land of Lassadar.
For a game of this complexity the rules are fairly clear and simple. There are a few blips such as when enemies trigger and when rounds start or end but although unclear there is generally one better explanation. It took me four or five plays to find a route to victory, sadly it feels very much like I don't need to replay anymore now that I have since I can't see many significantly alternative successful strategies. In all fairness though I feel much the same way about Arkham Horror and TIME Stories scenarios and they clearly out punch Lassadar as far as development team and cost go so it would feel unfair in calling this a criticism. Ultimately, if you're the sort of player who enjoys questing about in a very well realised sinister fantasy world writing tales of brave acts and hard won glory over horrible forces then Lassadar will give you more than enough to hang your latest epic on. If you're the sort of player who wants to return to a world over and again and be challenged each and every time strategically as well as narratively Lassadar probably won't offer you more then a couple of really satisfying plays.
My biggest problem is that I want Shadows Upon Lassadar to be a 1-4 player co-op game with a range of different playable characters all with different routes to victory, which is a bit much to ask for a free PnP. It feels like a world filled with unrealised potential teasing me with what could nearly be. If it ever gets a Kickstarter, I'd back it.