Kingdom Death - Surviving the Lion

Kingdom Death – After assembling all the core game monsters and basic survivors I was able to get a basic paint job on the models needed for the First Story. My play group has been anxiously waiting to play this game since I backed it on Kickstarter several years ago. So it wasn't hard to get three more players to join me on the first adventure into the nightmare realm of Kingdom Death.

The rulebook throws you right into the game it functions very similarly to a modern video game which walks you through the basic actions and teaches you through experiencing the game with minimal reading of the game rules. Essentially follow the walk through and you learn the basics of the game, this is brilliant because it makes teaching the game really easy. (Not to mention I didn't have to remember a bunch of rules right off the bat.)

After naming our characters we followed the instructions and set up the Lion AI deck and began the showdown. (Note: we didn't catch the adjustments needed to fight the various levels of creatures until we were deep into the battle. Fighting a 25 wound lion is way harder than fighting a 10 wound lion.)

 Right off the bat my character got mauled and I thought it was going to be the end for me. Luckily my compatriots were able to roll multiple critical hits to bring the Lion down to a more managable number of wounds. I recovered and got back into the fight. Miraculously we survived out first encounter and looted the corpse for useful materials.

The next stage of the game is the settlement phase. This is where you go back to your camp and spend resources to build things or innovate cultural events. The innovations allow you to move the story forward and grant access to new gear and abilities. We rolled up our settlement and have a total of 12 people. (It seemed like overkill at the time, but you do need every body you can get) Once of our survivors had to stay at the camp staring as the lanterns to gain insight. Which meant that player made a new survivor from the pool we have to go on the next hunt. We built a skinnery and bone smith with our initial endeavors as well as crafting a vest from the body parts we had.

Each settlement phase you fill in a timeline box and at various stages trigger a story event. Which you do immediately. The core rule book has a ton of these events and it feels like a choose your own adventure book when you have to flip through the pages to find your event. 

After the settlement phase is the ideal time to end your gaming session. You fill in what you have and make notes for the next time you get together.

Since it was still early and everyone was enjoying the game we moved on to the Hunt phase. During this phase you pick a monster to hunt and set up the hunt board per the description on that monsters showdown phase. The survivors move along the track revealing cards at each stage. The cards are events that can help or hurt the survivors as well as actions the beast may take while you stalk it. Once the monster and survivors meet in the same space you move to the showdown phase.

Each showdown gives you a layout to set up the monster and terrain cards. The terrain are heavy cardboard chits with a card that describes what it does. You then deploy your survivors according to that map and begin the showdown. The monster goes first and flips a card to see what it does. After it takes it's action the survivors take theirs. You can move up to your movement and then take an action. We pretty much just took turns swinging at the lion attempting to kill it. Each time you hit you flip a card from the hit location deck it lists the effects of your strike. These include critical hit events as well as what happens if you fail to wound. (Hint the lion doesn't like being poked in the ass). Each time you wound you remove a card from the AI deck when the deck is gone you've killed the monster.

This beast went down fairly easily and we salvaged some useful bit that we took back to our settlement. During the settlement phase we experienced an earthquake that gained us another founding stone. We took our body parts to the Bonesmith and made an axe and sword. We also made vests out of the useful hides we gathered. (Note the nifty paper towel vests one of my buddies created, a subtle reminder i still have a metric ton of minis to assemble and paint)

Some of our survivors aged and began gaining weapon proficiencies. Which seem like they'll help us in the long run. We also triggered the Screaming Antelope story event which gave us a new monster to hunt.

Eager to see what this beast will be like our brave survivors start the hunt for the Screaming Antelope. This hunt is much different and causes our survivors to spend all their survival during the hunt phase chasing down the Antelope. Eventually we catch it and begin the showdown.

The beast swallows one of our survivors in it's maw and dismembers her. It rams me and smashes my jaw three times and leaves me bleeding out on the ground near death. Our other survivors wound it, but as it eats the other arm of the survivor it swallowed it heals back up. Things are looking grim as we slowly reduce it's health and it vomits up our armless companion. It's next charge swallows our axe wielder and dismembers one of his legs. We fail to hurt the beast and it took his other leg. Outraged we began throwing our stones (not the best idea) and crit the thing to death. It vomits out our friend who will have to retire when we drag him back to the camp, but survived so we get the endeavor point to spend.

As it's now very late we decide to call it quits and make our notes for the settlement phase where we'll begin the next session.

Overall my group loved the game. It's really fun and the mechanics are very clever. The co-op aspect of the game really shines with the comradely and I can't remember the last time we laughed so much during a game. The stuff that happens is just insane. I like the fact that you play a settlement rather than a character. It opens up the opportunity for new people to sit in as well as making it easy to keep up if someone gets hurt or removed from the game early. I'm pretty sure it would be a good idea to rotate around the survivors to keep all of them around the same level but right now we're just going to wing it.