Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker Kickstarter Review

Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker Kickstarter Review

I have just said "wow" out loud. I've turned over a card in Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker during my third game and revealed a card that has just surprised me, surprised me because the effect it could have on my deck is both really clever and potentially very useful, but it's another card to add to my deck which is already getting bloated and the myriad of decisions available to me have been laid open. I have just said "wow", out loud, while playing a solo game.

Agent Decker is a solo story driven deck-building game, and although that sounds like a mash up of concepts and mechanics, I am telling you right now it works, and it works very well. You play the titular Agent Decker (though you won't be doing any blade running) as you attempt to sneak into some top-secret facility to grab a McGuffin. I'm going to leave the plot details purposefully vague, because Agent Decker is a story driven game and I really don't want to spoil anything.

Blight chronicles solo board game review

You will use the action cards in your deck to eliminate or knock out the obstacles between you and your secret objective, or you can do nothing, hiding in the shadows and waiting for the threat to pass. Your cards will have a combination of sneak and fight scores and you will play these cards to beat the target score of the obstacle in your path. You then have the choice of either eliminating the card, and thereby adding an extra ability to your deck, or knocking out the threat, bypassing it but allowing it to come back round later in the game.

Agent Decker becomes a balance of building up the strength of your deck, avoiding the nastier obstacles and hiding under a table and hoping the entire thing will just blow over. You can't hide indefinitely mind you, as any card that reaches the end of the obstacle queue adds to your suspicion level and if this level gets too high you will lose the game.

Blight chronicles deck builder game review

I can't stress just how meaty these decisions can be. You don't want to clog your deck with low powered cards too much, as you may then never see the cards you actually need. Similarly, whenever you have to reshuffle your deck your visibility rises, increasing the chance of you getting caught. Too thin a deck and you'll build up suspicion faster than walking into a bank with a bag labelled 'swag'. However, even if you think you've built the perfect deck for now, it may not be what you need later in the story.

Blight Chronicles presents a branching storyline, each mission feeding into a tree of future missions, and although there is some minor deck tweaking between missions, you will be taking the majority your deck with you into the next mission. It means that your deck should be well rounded so that it can cope with any future possibilities but it’s easy to focus your deck on your current objective only to watch it fall apart as soon as you start the next mission. I reached the third stage in the demo copy's storyline only to find that my suspicion was far too high and the number of fight cards in my deck was woefully inadequate to beat the particularly nasty obstacle in my way. There was quite literally nothing I could do, the decisions I had made in the previous missions had left me in a position that only an extremely lucky draw of cards was going to see me through.

Agent decker solo game game review

I'm not sure if I like this or not, it means you can be punished for something you have no control over but also means that throughout the multi-game story you have to be keeping a close eye on your deck, and that's not something I was doing (or at least not doing well) and I can't deny that I felt very frustrated when this happened. However, as I write this I realise that I need to re-start, I need to go back to the beginning of the story. Maybe I need to take another path, maybe I need to concentrate on collecting a certain type of card. As I'm writing this I've said 'wow' again, because Blight Chronicles is demanding my attention and drawing me back to the table.

One drawback with the game as it currently stands is that there is only one mission. This is split into many branching stages, however, and it’s not easy to beat.  This does mean you are going to play that mission a few times before you’ve completed it and explored all its nooks and crannies, but I know this will put some people off. Board&Dice’s plan is to expand the game with more content in the near future, similar to how Fantasy Flight Games' Arkham Horror LCG is constantly being expanded.

Before I sign off this review, I should mention Superhot the Card Game, mainly because Agent Decker is effectively the same game. It uses the same threat line mechanic and simple deck building systems. It has been tweaked, mind you, in some ways more subtly than what first appears. Of course, the main change is the heavy dose of theme, and it’s a theme that integrates well with the mechanics.  The branching storyline adds a narrative to a deck building game and never feels like the theme is being forced. It's simple really, if you liked Superhot the Card Game, then you NEED to go check out Blight Chronicles.

Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is a solidly built solo-game that not only provides a gaming experience full of decisions—some of which effect the game in subtle way—but also ties the game together in a well themed story of espionage and stealth. It can be difficult in places, especially if you haven't planned sufficiently ahead, but it’s this difficulty that will bring you back for more.

Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is on Kickstarter now.

This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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