Quick Look: A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic – Colonial Horror
Designer: Jason C. Hill
Artists: Jack Scott Hill, Brian Snoddy
Publisher: Flying Frog Productions
Year Published: 2015
When I initially reviewed Dark Gothic a few weeks ago, the game surprised me by being better than quite a few of the bigger and more popular deck builders in my collection. For those of you who want to familiarize yourself with the original base game, check my thoughts here, but if you are already familiar with this game and my impressions of it, in quick summary, A Touch of Evil : Dark Gothic had great thematic gameplay and only had a couple of issues that I found could use some tweaking and improvement.
Having briefly read through the Colonial Horror instructions during my initial review of the base game, I had my suspicions about how the new iteration would affect gameplay, and now that I have had a chance to put the expansion to a test, I can safely say that most of my predictions ended up being true ; the new material does indeed compliment the original game quite well, and even manages to play better in some respects when played by itself. But there is a perhaps a hidden price to pay for having access to new cards…
For a quick comparison, both Dark Gothic and Colonial Horror are standalone games, and can either be played independently of each other or combined to form a bigger game with more content. Both games have unique characters to use but consist of differing cards for the “main deck” that comprise the “center lane”, which certainly has its merits for replay value.
The original Dark Gothic had more cards and characters and could therefore support larger player counts than the smaller Colonial Horrors game (8 playable characters vs 5 characters, and 5 maximum players vs 3 players maximum, respectively), but the fact that there is more content available in the original base game could presumably lead one to believe that they should purchase the original over the newer rendition on the pure basis of content alone.
And in my opinion an individual would potentially be wrong to cast such an assertion.
Provided that you are intending to play with a maximum of 3 players, I would say that as a stand-alone game, Colonial Horror is the better of the two games. There is much noticeably more polish and refinement to the game now that some of the issues I had with the first iteration have been ironed out.
Firstly, you may remember that while this is mainly a competitive game (when played in competitive mode, of course…), there is also a prevalent element of cooperation that permeates the gameplay thanks to the thematic Villains that can cause you to fail in your main objective of saving the town of Shadowbrooke.
One of my gripes with the first game was that the Shadow Deck that could spell an immediate Game Over felt too trivial, and more of an afterthought than a threat—certainly nothing that presented a challenge most of the time.
Fortunately , several new types of cards in Colonial Horror mix things up a bit, and for the better. The cards make it all the more likely that the shadows will take over the land, making your strategy more important than ever if you hope to both overcome the perils of the land and declare yourself the ultimate bounty hunter!
Lightning Strike cards will immediately destroy adjacent cards when entering the center line, as well as add itself to the shadow deck—even when drawing cards at the start of the game!
Roaming Minions creep one step closer from their placement on the center line towards the Shadow decking each player’s turn—if they would ever move out of the last remaining place on the line, they are instead added directly to the shadows!
New Global Effect cards that affect all players further add the chance to add more threats to the shadow deck.
That is not to say that all is evil within the new cards. New allies can be had, and powerful new card types such as Books and Keys can be a powerful boon, especially when some of the new characters are designed to synergize with the new types of cards available. For example, Ann Marie, the school teacher, gains bonuses when having Book type cards in her hand.
All in all, we found that as a result of the increased chance to fail, we actually enjoyed Colonial Horror a bit more than the original game. That is not to say that we didn’t combine certain elements of the original when playing Colonial Horror (we like having the option of more characters, so we use the base games’ characters as well for the first part of the review), but as a standalone game, it shined a bit more in the gameplay department than the original game , and was definitely taken up a notch.
But true to the Horror genre that this game represents, once we tried and liked Colonial Horror , we were afraid ; very afraid…
We found ourselves liking the expansion so much that we feared the inevitable day when we decided to try merging the content of both games completely.
For it was our belief that once merged, the new card types would become diluted into the much larger Main Deck from the original game, and as a result, be drawn with less frequency since there are so many other cards that do not contribute to the threat of the Shadow Deck in the main game.
Were our suspicions confirmed? Yes. Unfortunately, a new balance was struck. While we certainly ended up having more Shadow cards rear their ugly way into the pile, it wasn’t quite as prolific as playing Colonial Horror by itself. So it was a bit disheartening seeing the challenge level deteriorate a little.
But the mere addition of the new cards still meant Shadows being added far more consistently than the original game.
Fortunately, all the expansion cards are clearly marked so that we might someday be able to separate the games into their respective original configurations if so desired. We may also decide to remove a few cards from the combined material to increase the likelihood of drawing Lightning Strikes and Roaming Minions, but that decision is for another day…
Another benefit to combining the sets is that they both fit in the original box quite nicely, so if you so chose, you can discard the Colonial Horror box and put the material into the original Dark Gothic box should space be an issue ; though it should be mentioned that neither game takes up an extraordinary amount of shelf space to begin with.
The question to ask is whether or not it is worth owning both of the Dark Gothic sets, and I would circumstantially speaking have to say yes. If you are intending on playing with 3 players maximum, I would suggest the Colonial Horror game first to see if you like it, and then add more content later. If you opt for a larger player count right off the bat, I would say do yourself an immediate favor and get the Colonial Horror game too, as it is relatively inexpensive and completes a dimension that feels like it was underutilized in the base game.
As an added bonus, I need to again mention to check out the Flying Frog’s website to directly purchase the games in their collections, due to the neat promotional materials that they will often add to your order for free as a thank you for ordering directly from them. For Colonial Horror, it is another special treat from their other game, Shadows of Brimstone—a special villain card for the Harbinger! (Note that the picture of the miniature is from the Shadows of Brimstone game, and is just for reference ; the card is the freebie you get if Colonial Horror is ordered directly from the Frogs!).
All in all, Colonial Horror rounds out the playing experience for Dark Gothic quite nicely, and is a supplement that works well with the original game, and works even better by itself, rather surprisingly. It is our hope for the future that if newer materials for Dark Gothic ever come into being, Flying Frog Productions takes into consideration the possibility of adding more chances to add Shadow cards to the game to take the threat of doom up a notch!
For the original game, I gave an overall score of 8.25. When rating Colonial Horror by itself, I would probably rate it higher, around an 8.75, given that it is much more fun when you have a more realistic threat and timer to work against. Combined together, I would say that the games average into roughly an 8.5 score, which is still a pretty high score for this type of deck builder for me.
And while this completes my review of the Dark Gothic series for the time being, keep an eye out for my review of A Touch of Evil : 10th Anniversary edition in a few weeks, as that game is set in the exact same setting as Dark Gothic, but promises a different, epic style of gameplay. Stay tuned!
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Jazz Paladin- Reviewer