Plays: 1 player only
Play time: 60-90 min
Everything you see in this preview is in prototype form. I would like to thank Board&Dice for allowing me to do this preview and overall support of Jambalaya Plays Games. This is my second preview with them, so check out my Page Quest preview if you’re interested.
IF you’re the kind of person who likes to “get to the point” I encourage you to slide down to my Final Impressions sections. I will post a “What’s so cool?” video in the next few days.
Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is a solo deck building action game with a branching story. You take on the role of an Agent of the Blight, a sort of Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible type character. Your first mission is codename ‘Cloudless Sky.’ You’re trying to find the whereabouts of a Chemist, Dr. Andrews, who has the knowledge to create chemical weapons. I’ll leave it at that. I’m going to talk a lot about the gameplay and a little lighter on the content details. Board&Dice stressed to keep the narrative details on the light side.
Choosing Your Path
Each mission in Blight Chronicles is seven stages long. You have a mission book with a full page of text dedicated to each stage and I liked the lead in material enough to read each one. The Mission Book has the potential to be a huge selling point or turn off potential backers. It needs to be cleaned up translation wise, but I’ll chalk it up to everything being in prototype form. Each Stage card has a specific set up instructions and the card types that will form the Obstacle deck. When you complete a stage, there’s some scenario ending text on the back of the stage card. You’re choosing between two routes, which will create your storyline for the mission. The replay value will come from multiple playthroughs to see how the story ends if you make different choices. Since each stage has its own card, you’ll want to play everything see the value of the content. I want to see more missions in the base game. I’m a greedy fella!
Agent, Your Mission is….
Blight Chronicles has standard deck building mechanics that most players can wrap their heads around fairly quickly. If you’re familiar with deck building, you only need to pay attention to the thematic choices you make and how to translate iconography. The gameplay is more challenging than I expected it to be, due to all the effects that can take place during each phase of a turn. Each stage is played until you complete the objective or you cannot fill the board with more cards from the Obstacle deck. A round of play has five phases:
Engage: Each round, you may play as many physical (red) and evasion (blue) Agent cards to knock out or eliminate one Obstacle card. Some cards require one type (red or blue) and others may require a combination of both. The game board is set up like your “line of sight.” Slots three thru six are considered far away and Obstacle cards cost an additional one or two evasion points to resolve. The first two slots and all three Mark spaces are considered nearby. Since you can only target one Obstacle card during your turn, it’s important to use cards that fulfill conditions for the Obstacle cards and maybe play a couple Agent cards that provide additional benefits. Some Obstacle cards can become Equipment cards for your body and for your hands. Any outfit change lowers your visibility, which is on point thematically. Nice little touch.
Reorganise: Simply draw up to your hand size, which begins at 4 cards. This is the point where suspicion and visibility come into play. When you run out of cards to fill your hand, you shuffle the discarded Action cards AND increase the visibility level by one. If you have to reach a level higher than the fourth level, you add one suspicion. Having higher suspicion is not a good thing for two reasons. If your suspicion is too high, you could lose the mission if the current Stage card has it as a mission failure condition. Suspicion also carries over to each stage of the game. You could potentially fail a mission stage before even starting or make the next stage seem insurmountable. Thematically speaking, it’s like you are blowing your cover and people are becoming suspicious of your whereabouts.
Avoid: The cards in slots one and two are your nearby cards. You remember when I mentioned knocking out or eliminating cards? During this phase one of three possibilities can happen:
- If both slots (1 and 2) are empty then nothing happens
- If one card is face down (Knocked out) then you choose which card to avoid
- If there is only one card, then that card is avoided.
If a card is knocked out and avoided, no suspicion is raised and it’s discarded without any negatives. It’s probably the best way to build a deck and buy some time. If a face up card is avoided, then multiple effects can trigger. For example, a card with the effect oversight, could end the game or cause multiple cards to activate at once. No matter what happens, the suspicion track number increase as indicated on the bottom of the Obstacle card you’re discarding.
Move: All the Obstacle cards slide closer to slot one (to the right). If any cards in play have the effect called chain, all them will activate and add suspicion to the track.
Look around: You reveal new Obstacle cards to refill the spaces created in the previous phase. If you need more cards, the avoided cards are shuffled and create a new deck. If you can’t draw enough cards to fill the board, game over. Unfortunately, some cards have a reveal effect that triggers when added to the field of play. Bummer right? I don’t mind is having a little unexpected challenge and pressure filling up the field of play. I don’t want the game to be easy, but I don’t want a game to constantly punish you either. I felt more pressure to make better choices and my choices had some weight to them.
Is the Mission Complete Agent?
To finish a stage, you must complete one or two objectives as stated on the Stage card. During play, some objective tokens are gained by eliminating specific obstacle cards on the board. The more common ways to lose a game is having too much suspicion or visibility. The most important detail to remember is that your suspicion carries over to each stage and sometimes the set-up visibility level can create enough pressure to force you into a tough situation.
Why should I back Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker?
Very immersive and thematic gameplay
Smart deck building that sells the theme
The replay value is high because it’s a chained storyline with multiple routes
The Mission book is good enough for me to care about
Saving a game is easy to do and I like having the option
I’m on the fence with the art, but it’s a prototype.
Is there enough content? We shall find out during the campaign.
Will the price point be just right or too much. Once again this is based on the final amount of missions and components.
The story could fall apart, but this is prototype. I would suggest you read the story for the intro and not spoil the rest, IF It’s available during the campaign.
Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is a fantastic solo game. The gameplay is tense, immersive, and challenging. It’s everything I want in a solo experience. I only got a taste of the storyline and I was juuuuust interested enough to read all the material, which adds to the immersion. I didn’t feel like any play session was too long or the fun wore off after a couple stages back to back, but I like that there is a save option. I appreciate games that respect my time and I wanted to replay the missions, which is a plus. I’m sold on the theme and the realistic results from the actions that I took. I knock out a guard and make no noise, then I don’t raise suspicion. I put on a uniform, it lowers my visibility level slightly. I know some potential backers will question the price on this game, I can see it coming. Some potential backers will see the contents of the game and don’t think there’s enough physically. If the prototype is even slightly representation of the final product, I think the production is on point and that’s worth something to me. If I found something that was a bit of a turn off to me on design side of things, I would have sniffed it out at this point and shared that with you. If I had one minor concern, it would be the story falling apart and not really holding my attention. As long as the gameplay is solid, I can handle it being hit or miss. If you’re a solo gamer, Blight Chronicles feels like another hit built for the solo community. If you’re looking for cooperative play, I’m confident that you could have fun making choices together. It’s a challenging game, so you might need another set of eyes to make better decisions. Maybe an actual coop mode will pop up in the campaign. Look at the campaign and decide for yourself if this is for you. The link will be posted below this post and hopefully you will make an informed choice based on my impressions. Thank you for your time.
With that, I must show my hand on this preview and say that I’m backing Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker. Rarely do I just come out and say this, because it doesn’t feel like a preview when you do, right? I’ve played enough to be convinced and I think the game has a decent amount of replay value, challenge, and potential content wise to validate my purchase. I’m sorry if this preview feels too promotional because it’s not intended to be and I was not compensated for….my opinion on the project. I’m just really excited about it. Solo play is in style and I’m so on ready for this game and the future of gaming for solo play.
Any questions or comments you have about Agent Decker or the Kickstarter campaign? Feel free to ask. I try to make sure I respond.