Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon Review

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Quick Look: Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon 

Designers:  Krzysztof Piskorski, Marcin Świerkot
Artists: Piotr Foksowicz, Ewa Labak, Piotr Gacek
PublisherAwaken Realms
Year Published: 2019

No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 60-120 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com  

From the Publisher:

Tainted Grail: the Fall of Avalon is an unforgettable, solo or cooperative adventure experience for 1-4 players. Blending Arthurian legends and Celtic mythology with a unique vision, it allows you to impact the game world in deep and meaningful ways. A deep, branching storyline allows you to tackle problems in different ways, ensuring no two games play alike. Difficult decisions or harrowing choices wait behind every corner and seemingly minor tasks may reverberate with major long-term consequences. See more…..

When I first heard about Tainted Grail about two years ago for its Kickstarter launch, I was quite excited for what would seemingly be a journey of epic proportions. After all, they were offering a 50+ hour campaign that would be narrative-based and implement the deck-building mechanic that I have always been fond of — I enthusiastically signed up for it without hesitation.

A short time later, Awaken Realms, the company responsible for Tainted Grail, also launched a Kickstarter for Etherfields, another deck-building/narrative adventure that seemed to offer another long-lasting story, but with an added twist ; An enigmatic “Dream-builder” mechanic that allowed the story to take place within an ever-changing world of dreams. 

This immediately gave me a dilemma—I was now more excited about Etherfields than I was for Tainted Grail. As the months dragged on, I slowly found myself not looking forward to Tainted Grail at all, and it felt strangely analogous to a situation I found myself in more than 20 years ago. 

For those of you who remember the anticipation leading up to the Final Fantasy VII video game on the PlayStation in 1996 and 1997, you would also recall the scarcity of good JRPGs on the PlayStation . So while we “patiently” waited for FF7 back in the day, we found ourselves “settling” for RPG’s like Wild Arms and Suikoden to fill in the void while we counted down the days to the release were were more eagerly anticipating. 

Consequently, Tainted Grail just seemed like something to pass the time while I waited for Etherfields when it arrived at my door. 

We opened it. We learned the rules. 

Only taking a step into the world of Tainted Grail would tell us if it would turn out to be a valuable use of our time. If you are prepared to find out if this was a worthy expenditure, read on!

Opening the Box :

For the purposes of this review, I will be talking about the base game , which was also received with the Monsters of Avalon miniature set, and the optional Niahm 5th player character.

It was immediately evident that the campaign funds for the massively successful Kickstarter project were well used. The first visual to treat our eyes beyond the rule book was the massive Exploration Journal, a vast 200+ page spiral bound tome that serves as a choose-your-own-adventure style guide to your experiences within the game world. 

The next thing to pop out at you are the three huge and statuesque Menhirs that serve as an anchor for the gameplay (more on this later). 

And of course, there is the usual assortments of goodies, none of which are lacking in quality —from translucent dice to designate your resources, to wonderfully produced character boards, to highly detailed miniatures that represent the protagonists, it all looked spectacular at a glance.

A trove of standard sized cards are used to represent your character abilities and initiate chapter setup, while a cache of larger sized cards are used to create a map of the regions you will have access to throughout the game. 

Various dials are used to track the days you spend in the land, and a set of dice looks as if though it will be used for more random determinations. Nothing seems askew at all at this point, and all seems well from a production standpoint. 

The Background Story: 

For those unacquainted with the premise of Tainted Grail : The Fall of Avalon, the story is loosely based upon Arthurian legend. As such , you may find yourself presented with names you may have heard before, such as King Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, et. al.. While I am somewhat familiar with genuine Arthurian lore, I was pleased to find that there is really no prerequisite knowledge that is essential to enjoy this game and its novel-like presentation. While the names may be familiar, the more famous characters may end up being completely different than what you have come to expect — and this is a good thing, as it enables you to be thrown into this journey headfirst and make discoveries as you go along without the fear of being in the dark with regards to the original lore.

To set the scene, hundreds of years ago , Avalon, the island on which this story takes place, was inhabited by strange, arcane beings with fell powers that defied human comprehension. However, with human nature being the indomitable beast that it is, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table wanted to take the magic-infused land for themselves , and using the power of the Holy Grail, they were able to push back the forces that dwelt on the island and eventually bring human settlements so that they may take part in the magical splendor of the land.

The land prospered in lushness in the aftermath of the takeover for centuries. 

But then, something began to change…

A strange , ethereal fog known as “The Wyrdness” had began to encroach upon the land. It consumes all in its path, leading entire villages to vanish or causing all who enter it to become enveloped in madness. 

When it seemed that the leaders of Avalon had failed in thwarting this malady, a stalwart group of adventurers from the town of Cuanacht set out to find a cure for what ails the land. 

Knowing that they are the strongest that Cuanacht has to offer, they nevertheless depart knowing full well that they may never come back alive. And with this grim realization, they create a failsafe plan that will be set into motion should they not return within a month—A letter is sent to five other warriors of less-than-worthy reputation. 

These individuals, although capable, have failed to pass muster with other townsfolk due to their troubled temperaments and pasts. 

You are one of the five warriors recruited as this last resort. Among your number are Maggot the Druid, mistrusted for his addiction to mushrooms; Arev the farmer, who has a reputation as a mercenary with a dark secret; Ailei , the herbalist , tormented by her past ; Beor, renowned for his vile temper ; and Niahm , an ageless being who has wandered the land for centuries allegedly —how could anyone trust someone who must surely be a demon to have survived so long? 

And thus begins your tale.

Playing the Game:

Tainted Grail : The Fall of Avalon is played through a series of fifteen chapters that will take you from one end of the island of Avalon to the other in search of a cure for what ails the land. 

A set of standard-size cards dictate how to set up each chapter as well as the conditions for progressing to the next chapter. You will start this journey in your home town of Cuanacht , and your ability to traverse the land in search of a remedy will be inhibited by the Wyrdness that surrounds the area.

Your first step will be to find a way to deal with this strange, ethereal force. And it seems that the statue that resides in the center of town, the Menhir, is a key ; a magical construction,  this monolith has been protecting the island from the Wyrdness for as long as anyone can remember. It seems that finding a way to permanently rekindle the magic within this particular Menhir, as well as those that scatter the countryside, will be vital to the fate of Avalon.

You will soon discover a means to (at least, temporarily) do so using resources that you accrue : Food, Wealth, Magic and Reputation , may all be utilized in a ritual that will extend the duration of the Menhirs’ protective abilities for a short while (represented by a dial that counts down the number of days left that the Menhir will remain active). Should this timer expire, you face the danger of perishing within the Wyrdness, so you do need to take care to hurry while in search of the solution to the ailments of the island.

Each day, you will start by drawing a random event card that will trigger everything from the weather conditions (which may make travel safer or more dangerous) to perilous enemy encounters. Once this daily card is resolved, you are free to spend the day as you wish traveling from map tile to map tile, with the stipulation that you are not able to travel outside of the short range of the Menhir’s protective barrier — a scant 2 tile orthogonal or diagonal distance. With that being said, you may choose to explore a given area , interact with townsfolk , or take advantage of some unique features that some tiles may have, such as a hunting ground for gathering food, or a warrior’s fair for getting experience. 

When exploring an area or interacting in town, you are often given meaningful choices that will affect your heading — Will you share in a casual drink with the mayor of a town that is in possession of an item that you require, or will you attempt to bully him into submission? The choices are numerous and of such consequence that they lend themselves to making you feel that you are playing a role playing game rather than a “mere” board game, so that right there is a feather in the cap for Awaken Realms. 

Keep in mind that you have a limited pool of energy to use each day. If you and your teammates become exhausted from exploring, moving, or fighting, you must end your day, which robs you of precious time — because once the Menhir in your vicinity extinguishes itself , it can lead to your demise. With that being said , a new day brings new potential to accomplish what you could not the previous day, and eventually, your options will expand and lead you to new areas to explore, but this does not come without consequence — did you really think it would be that easy to save the land from certain doom?

Because it is inevitable that conflict will abound. Whether being hunted by a Guardian across the map tiles, or accused of theft by an angry mob, you will soon find that there are many factions that stand between you and your objective. To surmount these obstacles, each character possesses a unique Combat and Diplomacy deck of cards that are used to overcome the more direct challenges they face, as well as one character specific ability than can be utilized while on the map. And given that each character has distinct starting attributes for their Aggression and Empathy, Courage and Caution, Practicality and Spirituality, it stands to reason that each character will have their own inherent aptitudes and play styles.  But each character also has a potentially fatal flaw that can weigh them down on their journey as well…

Combat and Diplomacy encounters are fundamentally handled the same way. When such an encounter takes place, you will take the encounter card (that is usually drawn randomly from one of four colored decks) and draw a small , fixed number of cards from your own personal Combat or Diplomacy deck. From there (though this is a vast oversimplification for the purposes of making this an easy-to-digest review) you get to play one card, and you essentially need to match up symbols to determine whether or not you do damage (in combat) or reduce tension enough to avoid being accosted by some sort of angry mob (diplomacy). Some connections are easy enough to make, while others require that you have a minimum number in a given attribute such as aggression to “connect” and do damage/de-escalate the diplomatic encounter, so you are not always guaranteed success by playing a card. If you can manage to successfully line up a bonus “lighting” icon, you can lay down extra cards to increase your chances of defeating the encounter without consequence. If you need to do some extra damage, or exert some extra influence over a situation, it is also possible to consume some of your accrued magic to lend some extra potency to your maneuvers.

When your turn is done for this round, the enemy gets a chance to finish you off if you did not vanquish your threat — Depending on how much damage or control you exerted over your turn, the enemy will have an appropriate response that is based on how many hit points or successful diplomatic stages you completed. If you manage to deal with the threat, you are often rewarded with food, wealth, reputation, or magic. Fail, and you must endure another round of combat or diplomacy , leading to potentially more damage or suffering a loss of reputation, wealth, or worse, your life. Tough luck, eh?

Fortunately, if you succeed , you can gain valuable commodities, the most precious of which is experience, which can be used to further enhance your initially modest abilities. Want to enhance your Aggression so you can line up more powerful combos against a monster? Go for it! Want to help ensure that you can talk your way out of any situation? Add another point into your Empathy. Want to be able to better find a trap while exploring an underground labyrinth? Try putting an extra point into Caution. You get the idea.

What’s more is that once you have at least two points in a given attribute, any additional point you spend in an area can give you access to specialized ability cards that give you unique situational abilities. If you have focused on Spirituality for example, you may choose to gain an ability that slightly extends the duration of active Menhirs by a day. Another card may give you a vicious sneak attack, while another helps you gain more food from hunting. And you can earn a wide variety of such abilities throughout the game.

Additionally, you can spend experience points upgrading your Combat and Diplomacy decks, as the sad reality is that your starting deck is a bit lackluster—it definitely could use some beefing up, so whenever you have an opportunity, adding a new card from your reservoir of Level Up cards is almost always a prudent means of ensuring your survival.

And upgrading your character is, of course, a must— The challenges you face will quickly escalate, and as you progress through each chapter, the perils that you are confronted with will also grow through encounter decks that scale in difficulty. 

Exploration will also be vital to your progression. Each new area you visit on the map gives you the option of taking a more serious look into your surroundings and finding something new and of consequence that you may have overlooked. Perhaps there is a hidden tunnel that you can scout in a hillside that connects two adjacent areas on the map. Maybe there is a clue as to the origins of the Wyrdness, or a secret glyph to decipher on a wall. Wanna try bashing that gate down now that you have an extra point in Aggression? How about taking a chance and rolling the d6 die to see if your new Caution ability modifier allows you a chance to avoid detection when exploring a seemingly abandoned dungeon? 

The story is relayed almost exclusively through the Exploration Journal, which simply oozes thematic content as you traverse Avalon. The compelling manner in which the story unfolds makes it so enveloping that you never feel that you are just choosing option A, B, C, or D — each fork in the road provides a meaty description of the surroundings and (if you are perceptive enough) intimates what kind of danger may be lurking around the corner. You quickly find out that for every action you take , there will most definitely be a consequence. Whether or not you take the risk is up to you, but it needs to be be stated that perhaps it is wise to remember that your predecessors who left you in charge of this mission were far more skilled and able-bodied than you are…and they are nowhere to be found…

This is Tainted Grail’s gameplay, in a nutshell…

Now as to my (and our group’s ) thoughts.

Whoo boy….

Does this game have any sour points? 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit more convoluted , as upon further rumination, some of these negatives could even be construed as positives in the right light. But we realize that there are times when certain factors can be more annoying than enjoyable, so we will perform due diligence by at least for now calling these issues out for what they are while at their worst.

1) Monotony. 

It is no big secret if you take a gander at other Tainted Grail reviews that the “grindiness” of the game works against it. By this, we mean to say that it was our experience that in order to be successful in progressing through the game before the Menhir timers expired, you had to focus perhaps a little too extensively on resource collection. It feels a tad too much like meta-gaming in this respect, because while the characters themselves are supposedly in a rush to find a solution to the Wyrdness , it feels like it makes no sense to spend as much time as we did gathering something like food when there is such a dire crisis at hand. 

For us, the optimal approach to being successful involved spending days upon days within the game hunting for food and magic, and this generally meant picking fight after fight within a select few areas until we were filled to the brim with the resources we feared exhausting. As a result, it often felt slightly comedic that we had enough of a food supply to last us for two weeks of meat provisions (without refrigeration!), and this felt a trifle like overkill at times. However, given the nature of some of the threats we eventually discovered, we found that this, while redundant, was often the best course of action for survival. It was repetitive, but essential by our calculated strategy. The most unfortunate consequence of this slog is that the story suffers — not from being bad (because it is most assuredly not) , but because the “grind” hinders the storyline. So that is the first issue that needs reconciling.

2) Errata / Text issues.

Taken as a whole, the vast majority of Tainted Grail : The Fall of Avalon is meticulously crafted and edited. With that being said there are a couple of issues where either typos or ambiguous text lead us to confusion, with the potential of breaking the game. For example, there is one specific Chapter Setup card that has an error that omits a key detail that can make it impossible to complete the conditions for victory unless you look at the online errata. I know that the age of the internet makes it “easy” too look up potential issues with errors, but it remains to be said that not everyone is equally skilled at looking up issues on Board Game Geek, and issues like this could break the experience for some people. 

In addition, some of the descriptions and directions given to you or alluded to in the Exploration Journal can be so vague that they can lead you on a wild goose chase that can make you feel that you are wasting your time and resources galavanting around the map. 

With that being said, even though we would get frustrated with these instances, it nevertheless keeps the game a bit more grounded in reality ; after all important areas of interest or buried treasures do not have giant exclamation points indicating their whereabouts in real life! So , to a certain degree, this can be forgiven.

3) Components. 

While the quality of most of the components is not in question for the most part, there are a few issues that affected us in our play through. 

Firstly, there are not nearly enough translucent cubes in the box to keep track of our resources—even with just two players, we would often have problems. For example, player trays would often have cubes spilling off of their designated areas due to our having accumulated so many. This could have been rectified if maybe they included another color (besides the included red and purple ones) so we could designate another value for 10 , 20, etc of a given resource. 

As a secondary consequence of not knowing what exactly is lurking around the next corner we also had a tendency to farm and horde our resources—meaning that we would also frequently run out of cubes. This was admittedly a great annoyance. 

With regard to the Menhirs themselves, we felt that the dials used for tracking the days were difficult to read, and that the numbers imbued on them could have stood out more , especially given the frequency with which they are relied upon. As an added complication, the dials would sometimes slip out when we were handling them, often before we could read them , so there were the occasional instances where we had to guess how many days were left on the meter, and none of us liked the possibility that we may have inadvertently given ourselves an extra day to explore — or worse, cheated ourselves out of one!

4) Table space. 

The game starts out simple enough, with your travel options severely impaired by the Wyrdness. However, as the game advances and expands, you may find that as you are gaining in the ability to travel more expeditiously than ever before — and as a result, you are consequently leaving more map tiles on the table that will not vanish until a Menhir expires. Not everyone’s table will be able to accommodate moments like these! 


1) Story.

This is possibly the most immense , branching story currently available in a board game— and without a doubt better than Gloomhaven, if you need a frame of reference. If you can deal with the sometimes monotonous gameplay, the story itself lends itself to high replay-ability. While we are just scratching the surface of our second play through, even just one venture into Tainted Grail alluded to a great many instances where we could have taken an entirely different path, leading to either salvation or destruction for the numerous places and people we encountered in our journey.

Along these lines, I am keen to point out that even though I personally walked into Tainted Grail declaring that I have absolutely zero time for painting another set of miniatures, by the time we hit chapter three, the story had become so immersive that I could not resist painting them to add to the experience.

2) The Exploration Journal. 

Besides containing the wonderful story, Awaken Realms deserves credit for sparing no expense on the binding for the Exploration Journal , which in all of our many hours playing never once became unbound — Gloomhaven , on the other hand became unfurled so many times in our adventures that pages started to become torn, and the binding started to get bent out of shape. Great job to Awaken Realms for not overlooking the importance of this most-critical component!

3) Online Exploration Journal Ap. 

If you want a fully narrated companion app with music that helps immerse your group in the experience for free, look no further than the iStore ! (Also available on Android, I believe). While the narration is superb, there are/were a few minor kinks and bugs for us when using it, but these were in no way damaging of our impressions of it. 

With that being said, we preferred reading from the Exploration Journal rather than using the app —for me personally, it felt more like reading the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books from my childhood, and I always loved “accidentally” catching a glance of what may or may not lie in our future when perusing the book.

4) Metroidvania in a board game. 

Do you like the feeling of discovering something new when revisiting an area you thought you had already explored to the fullest? If so, this game will evoke some feelings that are very reminiscent of exploration-based video games that are very dear to some of us.

5) Setup time. 

I admire that there is a great “Quick Save” that makes setup and takedown fairly quick. With that being said, if you have the option, if you have a dedicated game table to leave Tainted Grail on, just set it up once and leave it there —that will save the most time!

5) Teamwork. 

One of the things I hated about Gloomhaven was not being able to share items and resources. Awaken Realms was wise to allow sharing, this makes for great companionship in the effort to survive. The fact that you can choose to split up to accomplish different tasks that are of equal importance is also valued, as is the ability to take on greater challenges as a party should it be needed. 

Double-edged swords — Every so often I come across issues in a game that are both a perk and drag , depending on how you look at them, or the circumstance under which they occur. For Tainted Grail, here is what could be construed as both a positive and negative.

1) The Rulebook. 

The rulebook itself is organized and worded in a sometimes confusing fashion, and lends itself to the impression that the actual game will be among the most complex undertakings ever. If it had been constructed as well as the Exploration Journal , I feel there would have been less of an issue for us. In practice, however, the rules and gameplay are much more simple to understand than we were lead to believe. It is not a difficult game to play once you realize what you need to do.

2) Character progression. 

In true RPG fashion, you start out as the stereotypical underpowered whelps who leave their village to save the world. Nothing wrong there — in fact, one could argue that the greatest tension in the game comes as the result of being a weakling not knowing what you are up against. As you progress, however, a good deal of that tension that originally lead to excitement is lost simply because your characters become too strong for the “regular” encounters. Depending on how you developed your character’s abilities, it can become laughably monotonous knowing that nine out of ten times , you will be able to defeat an encounter on the first player’s turn — It simply becomes an exercise in determining whether you suffer a paltry consequence such as taking one point of damage or not. Worse, many times, other players can feel useless knowing that they will never get a chance to play a card. So yes, while monsters and encounters get stronger as the game progresses, for the most part, they cannot keep up with the players once you hit the mid-game, and while there is a grand sense of character advancement, it does come at a cost off breaking the excitement when you become too powerful.

2) Difficulty. 

Ironically, even though it was stated above that the game can be too easy at times, it can also be extremely difficult. While this is most noticeably due to being underpowered at lower levels, the remainder of the immense challenges lie in areas that are beyond the players ability to control — namely , hidden forms of damage that cannot really be mitigated due to the fact that they take place outside of combat/diplomacy encounters, but rather within the text of the Exploration Journal itself. 

To highlight one example, by the time we had reached the climax of one particular chapter, we were engaged in a fight-to-the-death with one of the game’s epic battles of consequence — and it just happened to be one of the few tough battles we encountered later in the game. We put all of our effort into developing a strategy that would keep all of our party alive, and after some brainstorming, we came up with a plan that ultimately worked —albeit at the expense of leaving everyone with just one hit point. But we knew that doing this would end the chapter and, if the pattern held true, give us a chance to recover a little bit. So we committed to our plan. And behold, the chapter ended, and the new chapter started out by having us read text that resulted in all of us taking one point of damage — rendering all of us incapable of helping the other party members from bleeding to death. And we consequently died.

To paraphrase (I do not have the exact quote handy at the moment) the expectations Awaken Realms has for players in Tainted Grail’s normal” mode : If you cannot beat the game without dying , you do no not deserve to witness the real ending. This sounds harsh. Very harsh.

After all, how in the world were we supposed to know that something would, as if though by magic, come out and deal damage to us at the start of the chapter? Is it fair to expect us to start over from the beginning of the game for such an unfortunate occurrence, just to earn the respect of the developers? This is just one of several examples we can provide where we were faced with a similar decision as to whether to play the game as intended, or “cheat”.

For this particular outcome, we decided to “cheat”, though, we do not necessarily see it as such. We may be doctoring our verbiage a bit in rationalizing our decision but in the end, we do feel like there are certain situations where it could be considered more permissible for us to engage in fudging the results in our favor. The main factor in our decision for this particular instance has to do with the way the game heavily depends on hindsight — there is no way you could know certain things in advance, and therefore, given an infinite amount of time, you would eventually learn that in order to survive encounter X, you need to retain at least 2 HP’s in surviving to successfully avoid the ill fate at the start of the next chapter. 

Yes, we could theoretically replay the game and get to encounter X again— this is beyond doubt. The more practical side of things is “do we have time for this?”. There, the answer is no, as I surmise it would be for most of us. 

So I can overlook this “minor” bending of the rules in some of these cases. In others, we would be more reluctant. But now that we have experienced the game in its entirety , none of us are opposed to doing it the “right” way with zero deaths. In fact, the familiarity gives us reason to rise to the challenge and see if we are indeed skilled enough to handle it as the developers intended with zero deaths.

But the fact that death can be inevitable and unforgiving during one’s first play throughs leads us to our last double-edged sword.

3) Bookkeeping.

I give credit to Awaken Realms for creating some great character management and story progression sheets — They are beyond functional in most senses. But for our purposes, we discovered they are not optimal, and could perhaps use an overhaul. 

The most natural place to save your game is in the interlude between chapters. But, as we discovered during our initial play throughs, death is hard-hitting, and can very easily lead you to having to restart your game from scratch if you are not careful. As a consequence, after dying in Chapter 3 once, we decided to start keeping a dedicated save sheet for each chapter that not only included what items we started the chapter with, but also (in a different colored pencil) what items, skills, etc we acquired during each chapter, as well as the tasks or quests we had accomplished. That way, in the event that we perished again, we could decide to begin any  Chapter again with all of what we started it with, easily knowing what cards and skills we would need to put back into the box. Needless to say, even though we did not die a lot after this (just once, I believe), it became an epic chore keeping track of this, as we accumulated a ton of new skills, abilities, cards, and items that all needed to be documented —and this number only swelled as time went on. 

But, with that being said, even though it was painstaking, it only lent to the feeling that I was somehow playing an epic PC game or RPG like Baldur’s Gate, which, similarly to Tainted Grail, relies heavily on hindsight to be successful. Such video games required you to “save your game” frequently because death itself was often just around the corner, which consequently required you to “reload” your game to a point in time prior to your making a bad or ill-informed decision. So I can actually appreciate the fact that this aspect made me feel like I was playing a board game equivalent of a role playing game. As a result of this, the book keeping ended up seeming more positive than negative in some respects, though I am sure that others would not feel this way.

The final verdict :  

Tainted Grail is not without its warts, and there is definitely room for improvement. The sometimes unpredictable outcomes of the narrative coupled along with monotonous grinding for resources can bog the experience down ; the card gameplay can get boring under certain circumstances ; and even something as simple as moving your characters on the map can be a slog (with some chapters lasting 6 hours or more if you are unfortunate enough to be uncertain as what to do next). 

The main question that remains is whether or not these negatives can detract from the game enough to make it more horrible than pleasant. 

Thankfully for us the answer to that question is resounding “no”, though I can see why others would be annoyed with the game’s faults enough to not want to see the adventure through to its conclusion. 

The story itself is the main draw—the gameplay itself, while “good”, remains merely that. It is not great by itself, but when paired with the main attraction, it makes a great supporting character. The magnificent lead in Tainted Grail is the story itself, and it is worth the cost of admission for us. It was captivating and open-ended enough that we feel compelled to play it again to see what we can do differently, and leaves us eager for the expansions. As a further bonus, it seems from browsing various online forums that Awaken Realms has heard some of the criticisms from the base game, and will be working at reducing some of the monotony that arises from the constant need to light Menhirs in The Fall of Avalon, so there are some silver linings to our anticipation of the expansion material. 

At this point of time, Etherfields has arrived at my doorstep and is now fully sleeved and ready to play. But the expansions for Tainted Grail are due to be delivered in a matter of mere days now, which leaves us with the dilemma as to whether we should start Etherfields or just wait for the Tainted Grail expansions to arrive. 

It should be very telling that we have decided to dive straight into the new Tainted Grail material first, leaving Etherfields on the shelf for the time being. The story just begs for answers that need immediate resolution. 

I have no idea if Etherfields will end up besting Tainted Grail as much as I initially predicted it would, but my conclusion with regard to Tainted Grail brings me back to the comparison I made with Wild Arms and Final Fantasy VII at the beginning of this review— while I initially loved Final Fantasy VII, I rather strangely find myself coming back to play Wild Arms far more frequently than FF7 in modern times, and I cannot help help but wonder if I have made a mistake in misjudging my enthusiasm for both of these projects from Awaken Realms. Only time will tell, but for now it remains fixated in my mind that it is very possible that I might walk out of my experience relishing Tainted Grail more than Etherfields when all is said and done…

Components : 9/10

Story (if applicable) 9.5/10

Gameplay : 7/10 

Replayability : 9/10 

Value : 8.5 / 10 

Final Score : 8.7 / 10 (not an average) 

Check out Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon  and Awaken Realms on:


Jazz Paladin- Reviewer

Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services. 

See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.

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