An encounter with Vast: the Mysterious Manor

Yesterday I bumped into an asymmetrical board game on kickstarter that really got my gears turning . Its called Vast: The Mysterious Mansion and it looks good. So good in fact that instead of going to sleep last night I stayed up and read its preview rulebook. It is partially like a dungeon crawl and also not really depending on who you are playing, with players having access to 5 vastly different roles that can be used used in any combination to play 1-5 player games.

It takes place inside a cursed mansion, with various forces at play due to the roles players can have. First one is the Paladin, who is the sort of standard dungeon crawler he is here to slay foul evil, exploring and revealing tiles, gathering loot, placing lanterns to light the way and smiting the demons with righteous fire. He powers himself up through 3 different resources. Grit which is a stand-in for experience, giving him more hero cubes and allowing him to improve his stats and do more things. Loot can be found from old chests and armories and provide various bonuses, and finally he will have Tasks chosen at random by his gods, once completed he'll be gifted a boon for his work.

The second role is that of the restless skeletons creeping around, they will try to waylay the hero and can move somewhat unhindered by the dungeon, moving through cracks and walls. But they lack the individual strength to kill the hero, so they need to swarm him, growing in power as he is surrounded and hopefully overwhelmed. They work with a resource called Stability which is the strength of the magic holding them together, spend to reanimate them after the temporary setback of death and  allowing further skeletons to flood into the manor. Beyond that they can also steal treasure the hero would've liked and equip themselves with personal upgrades.

Third role is the malevolent spider demon that has been summoned, she needs to grow in power until she can escape, and will seek to fill the mansion halls with eggs and webs. The spider is perhaps the most complex role as you will have to decide which form you use ahead of each turn. She will draw a hand of cards with different faces each turn (Eyes, Fangs, Webs) and while they generally have the same functions, that being exploration, attacking or hindrance respectively, each of her forms add unique twists to how you can use the cards and will even allow you to convert cards to a forms favored face.

Fourth role, and a really fancy one at that is the Manor itself. The manor is trying to complete certain tile configurations, and have the powers to shift and swap rooms around in order to accomplish these. The manor also have a disembodied entity called the Wraith who creeps through the walls, snuffing lights, eggs and skeletons it comes across. And the manor player also draws events and plays them, instead of the game simply doing it in their absence, they also get to place treasure chests in remote corners to lure others, and even partially decide which loot is drawn and given to the invaders.

The fifth role is the Enchanter, who is still being developed and isn't included in the rulebook just yet. But what really strikes me with this game is how different playstyles the roles have, and how they can still be played 1v1 should you choose too, or even as a five player banaza of madness and tokens. And while the skeletons by default are hunting the paladin, if he isnt there, then they'll be hunting the demon, or even the poltergeists within the mansion. Same goes for the paladin of course. And if you wanted to play a game of just the mansion trying to entrap the spider demon, then that is possible as well. So there is a great variety in setups.

And it all have a very deterministic approach too, there is no real output randomness by design. Who wins a melee and who doesn't depends on the participants strength, with the paladin having to allocate more hero cubes to strength if he wants to do that, the demon having more strength depending on her form and skeletons getting more strength from outnumbering.

The equipment cards revealed by the armoury or the treasure chests is random, but if a Manor player is present he gets to pick one of two to dish out. The demons hand will of course also be a random combination of the three card faces, but each of her form lets her convert cards to a specific face that form favours. Her spiderlings can make Web cards, her caster form can make Eyes and her giant spider form can make Fangs. So even if the cards arent exactly to your liking your form will let you alter them for fit your needs.

Tiles revealed will also be random, but again here the Manor player can shift the layout to their infernal designs. So I really like how a lot of the complexity of the game doesnt come from the uncertainty of dice rolls, but instead comes from how each player interacts with the manor and how their tokens are placed. And from what I can see so far we are gonna get some sweet minatures to represent the various bits and bobs like chests, lanterns, eggs, webs, new walls and hopefully dancing lights too