Vast: The Crystal Caverns Review

VAST: THE CRYSTAL CAVERNS (Leder Games)

Break your curse. Slay the dragon. Kill the knight. Rise from your slumber to wreak havoc. Bury all of the intruders under mounds of rubble and return to silence. Every person, thing, and aspect of an adventure has its own goals, and in Vast you get to play all of them!

Describing how Vast plays is a little tricky as there are as many different ways to play and win as there are players for that particular game. Looking at all aspects of the “Dungeon Crawl” genre, players get to choose from the roles of Thief, Knight, Dragon, Goblins and the Cave itself. Each role has it’s own unique turn order and method of play that expands the game for the other players. The Knight wins by killing the Dragon, the Goblins win by killing the Knight, the Dragon wins by escaping the Cave, the Cave wins by collapsing on to everyone inside of it, and the Thief wins by acquiring enough Treasure or Dragon Gems to break his curse.

With so many different ways to win and play, Vast becomes as much about trying to win as trying to make sure that others don’t win.* An interesting example is that even while the Knight is trying to slay him, the Dragon wants to be sure that the Goblins aren’t successful in slaying the Knight before he himself is able to escape the Cave.

As players balance out power amongst each other, this usually makes for climatic finishes where everyone ends the game just a turn away from victory. It’s a wonderfully (and probably painstakingly) playtested game that delivers that nail-biting RPG feeling of glorious victory or agonizing defeat.

In addition to the core game, there’s also a deck full of Difficulty Cards to saddle experienced players with, campaign rules for multiple gaming sessions, and Terrain and Role Variants that provide a whole lot of game from a modest sized box!

The main difficulty with Vast as you may have guessed is teaching the game. Similar to Space Cadets, while many different games in one is fun, teaching many different games all at once is not (or at least it’s more challenging). Thankfully, Vast provides a thorough player aide for each role, so starting off with everyone reading their sheet is helpful – though fair warning, it is double-sided so there’s going to be a fair amount of silence during that. Looking at the sheets, none of the rules are particularly challenging but each present a number of options that probably won’t make sense at first. It’s okay, just have fun stumbling your way through at first. It is a dark cave afterall. (Leder Games) by David C. Obenour

*A house rule that we thought of was that once the Cave starts its collapse players aren’t allowed to discuss blocking strategies for other players. It isn’t necessary because of any flaw in Vast, just our group’s preference to not meta- or power-game and thematically it’s fun to think of the deafening sounds of the walls coming down around you.

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