Quick Look: Legacy of Atmos: The Tellus Crusade
Designers: Taylor Harvy, Joey McManus
Artists: Nenad Kalla, Daniel Elhri, David Camarasa, Quentin Viazac, Eddie Robertse, Zenar Sayson
Publisher: D6Vault Studios LLC
Year Published: Currently on Kickstarter with a estimated publishing date in 2022
Legacy of atmos is a game of epic tactical skirmish-based warfare for 2-4 players with deck-building elements and a character fate and alignment system. You will command a small force of legendary Characters and miniatures that are fighting a battle which forms part of the larger on-going conflict. Choose your allegiances, craft your army, and take part in The Tellus Crusade!
Legacy of Atmos is a miniature skirmish game for two to four players. Now I know what you’re thinking, a mini-packed skirmish game on Kickstarter? Again?
And with such an original name too.
Have no fear, Legacy of Atmos brings a lot of content and has some interesting mechanics that set it apart. There’s deck construction and a fate system on top of the usual move-models-and-attack formula for the genre that add some nice strategy and variability, and I think this is a great starting point for those looking to get into tactical miniature war games. Read on to find out how the game works and what I think of it! Keep in mind that the game I played was only a prototype, and things may change when the final game comes out. Also note that I only played the game with two players, as trying to do more than that with the core box would limit the army building and make the board very cramped.
Now I am fairly new to these types of games, only having played a couple myself. I’m approaching this game as a bit of a newbie, so keep that in mind if you are deep into this subset of the tabletop hobby. I think that the game shines with a simple core ruleset, a ton of variability, and lots of strategy to uncover.
In this game you’ll take control of the Atmos Federation, an astro steampunk coalition of humans fighting a crusade of revenge against the forest creatures who wreaked havoc on them in a past war. They’re packed with guns, mechanical constructs, and Astromancy magicks with which they will pull a Saruman on the forest and its inhabitants. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can play as the Tellus Commune, a loosely organized group of creatures and beasts with a focus on melee combat and magic. Instead of the dudes-with-guns of the Atmos Federation, this army is comprised of strange and unique beings that are a fusion of plants and animals.
The main components of this game are the huge collection of varied and detailed miniatures, but it also comes with a large board, a Fate mat, a bunch of various tokens and dice, and roughly a bajillion cards.
Although for some unfathomable reason the characters are all from the black-and-white era of television.
How does the game work? Well it’s a miniature skirmish game, which means get out your rulers because you’ll be measuring distances, arguing about Line of Sight, and slightly bumping your model’s position to get them juuuuust out of range when your opponent isn’t paying attention.
Oh my gosh, what’s that over there?
You’ll first build an army from one of the two factions, construct a deck, arrange the army on the board, and take turns activating each model and taking various actions with them. The goal is to have the most supremacy points at the end of five rounds, or defeat all of your opponent’s units on the battlefield (each of which is a miniature, referred to as a ‘model’).
Now if you’re a board game veteran, nothing here will be tough to understand once you get into the game. Rolling dice, moving characters, playing cards, and gaining victory points are all the things you’ll primarily be doing while playing the game. One thing that may be a bit different is that you’ll need a ruler, as character movement and attack ranges are all given in inches. The board is just a wide open space, with only some nice artwork and six control points on it.
Where are the hexagons? WHERE ARE THE HEXAGONS???? They’re hexagone.
The game lasts for five rounds, with each round ending when both players have activated every model. This makes the rounds go faster as the battle progresses and models are defeated, and having a set end keeps the game from dragging on too long. Of course the game can end early if one side is completely defeated, but if it does go to the end, then the winner is the player with the most Supremacy points. These points are gained by taking control points and completing gambits. The board has the six control points, and at the end of each round the player with the most of their models in a control point takes control of it. Players then get two points for each of these areas they control. This gives a nice objective to the game other than just defeating the other player’s army that encourages movement and positioning. Once a point is controlled, a player can move out of it and retain control until the opponent takes it, which means models don’t have to sit on control points and remain unused. Further increasing the variable ways to score points are the gambits.
Each player chooses three gambit cards to bring to the game which offer different objectives and ways to get points. In the prototype, each side only had three gambits available so I cannot comment on what will be in the final game for this, but having those other objectives did give something else to think about other than just defeating the enemies.
The game creators have touted the game’s intuitive combat system, and for the most part I found that to be true. Players take turns selecting one of the models in their army and performing two actions with it, which will usually be move and attack. Movement is just taking the model, looking at how far it can move, and placing it somewhere within that distance. To attack, look at the weapons listed on the model’s character sheet and select one. Models generally have various weapon options for ranged and melee attacks; if they are within an inch of an opponent’s model, they’re locked in melee combat, otherwise it’s ranged. Each weapon has a certain number of attacks, so roll that number of D6 dice. For each die, if the rolled number is greater than or equal to the model’s attack stat, that attack hits. For each hit, the weapon does a certain amount of damage, often with different damage modifiers like poison, armor piercing, etc. The defender then rolls a D6 for each hit, and if they roll greater than or equal to their armor stat, then they block a hit. The weapon does a certain amount of damage per hit, so the defender takes that damage for every unblocked hit they received.
The guilt of firing at the cute little tree people, however, isn’t tracked.
For example, on my turn I select a model with a Movement stat of 6”. I measure that out and move the model that amount so that an enemy model is in range. My model has a ranged weapon with four attacks, so I roll four dice. This model’s Ranged Skill stat is +4, and my dice rolled a 2,3,4,and 6 which means two of those hit. My opponent has an Armor stat of +5, and they roll for each hit, which would be two dice in this case. They roll a 4 and a 6, which means one of those gets blocked. My weapon deals 2 damage per hit, and since only one attack hit, that enemy takes two damage. Once a model has taken damage equal to its health, it is removed from the game (but not from our hearts).
That’s basically how the combat goes, but with a few extra rules about moving and counter-attacking in melee combat. Once the players are comfortable with the rules, it goes quickly and is fairly easy to understand. There is a lot more in the game however, and while the rulebook does a pretty good job explaining it all, expect to be flipping through it a lot to try to find a particular rule in the first couple games. There’s a helpful rules summary and term glossary in the back of the rulebook, but there are some particulars that can be hard to find in the midst of a battle.
It’s a 41 page chonk. Expect to be flipping through this a lot at first.
The other main aspects of this game are the card play and the fate system. Both players bring to the battle a prebuilt deck of 20-30 cards which contain tactics, spells, and other abilities. Spellcasting models can use spell cards as one of the actions when activated, special leader models have unique ability cards that they can use, and tactic cards are varied and give extra abilities and reactions when played. Cards cost mana to play, which players get at the start of each round, and they do a good job of telling you when they can be played and what the effect is. Players start the game drawing a hand of five cards, and they draw one card at the start of each subsequent round. They’ll only draw nine cards from their deck by the end of the game unless they have other abilities that allow for card drawing. Having only nine cards throughout the entire game means card play isn’t as extensive as I was originally hoping, as players won’t be using cards very frequently. It does mean that deck construction and when to utilize cards for maximum effect is much more strategic, so it still works well.
Another thing to mention with the card play is that spells require a spellcaster model to be able to play the card. To be able to utilize spell cards, a player will need to include a few spellcasters in their army, and if they all get defeated, the spell cards will be worthless. The Tellus Commune also has two different types of spellcasters, each with their own different spells. The same goes for the unique leader cards. You can only have at most five unique cards in the deck, and these cards are different depending on the leader you pick. They offer a lot of cool stuff, but in my first game, my leader was defeated before I had drawn one, so they were all useless once I did get to them. Just know that it can be frustrating, but it also makes card drawing abilities much more powerful and offers further incentive to focus attacks on the opponent’s leader and spellcasters. One could also certainly build an army without spellcasters and just not include these cards, but there are a lot of cool spell abilities they would be missing out on.
Now onto the fate system: each player starts the game with three light-fate and three dark-fate tokens. Certain models are aligned to one of the fates and if included in an army will flip a light-fate to a dark-fate before the battle and vice versa. These fate tokens can be spent on fate cards during a turn which then get added to that player’s hand (dark fate tokens buy dark fate cards, and light fate tokens buy light fate cards).
These cost mana to play like any other card and give a lot of cool abilities that can really shake up the game. These fate tokens can also be spent to force a dice reroll; dark-fate can force an opponent to reroll any roll, while light-fate allows the player to reroll one of their rolls.
If a player has more light fate tokens in their supply, their army is light-fated, while more dark fate tokens means they are dark-fated. Certain things can have different effects depending on how an army is fated. Most common is that the fate cards can have different additions, such as light fate cards give a bonus if the army is light fated when played. This makes choosing when and what fate to spend a bit more strategic, as well as influences army construction since certain models change what fate is started with.
This Fate stuff is a pretty cool system that further shakes up the game, but I would like to see more changes in the game based on the fate alignment of the army. Also spending a fate to reroll can be frustrating if the resulting roll is the same or even worse than the original one, and I didn’t use the reroll mechanic very often. It’s nice if your opponent has a particularly lucky roll or you have a particularly unlucky one, but in general I would say using the fate tokens to buy cards is much more useful.
That’s a basic overview of all the main systems in the game. There is a lot more little stuff I didn’t really talk about, like model specific abilities that are not tied to cards, other stats like Fortitude and Divine Saves that can further reduce damage taken by characters, and more. If I tried to explain everything, this review would take up way too much of all of our time. I would recommend taking a look at the rulebook if you’re interested in this game at all, which while it is pretty long, a lot is dedicated to alternate game modes and preplanning stuff so it’s really not bad. I will mention that while the game doesn’t come with any terrain pieces, there are a nice set of rules for how to include them. This can make the experience a lot more fun and strategic, and I would absolutely recommend adding it once you’ve understood the basic rules. If you’re new to this and don’t have any nice mini terrain pieces, just get some rocks (they’re free!) and paint some cardboard to create some simple obstacles.
Now back to your regularly scheduled review!
Or put the toys the kids have left scattered around to good use
I do also want to mention the theme of the game a bit more. As was mentioned, the game is about the Atmos Federation waging a crusade against the Tellus Commune as revenge for being nearly destroyed by them. The Atmos Federation is steampunk, which is always cool, and the Tellus Commune is nature themed with creatures that are varied and interesting. The theme is conveyed very nicely through the different cards and faction abilities, but especially through the amazing miniatures. There is, however, the whole aspect of the technologically advanced humans fighting against the tribal, nature-loving creatures. This is a common trope that brings to mind Avatar and Pocahontas to name a couple examples.
Which marks the first time anyone has thought of Avatar since it left theaters.
While the game doesn’t frame one side as good and one as bad, I did want to bring it up as I can see it rubbing some people the wrong way.
So what do I think of the game? It’s fun and strategic, with a somewhat simple rule set but a fair amount of depth. The rulebook absolutely needs to be kept in hand for the glossary of all the damage effects and other terms, and some important rules can be hard to find, but overall it’s a great introduction for those new to miniature wargaming while offering a lot for those who are more experienced. The biggest thing this game has going for it is the sheer variability, as just the base game alone offers a ton and will remain fresh play after play. Let’s just go through all the variable parts of the game: When building your army you first have to pick which side to play as. Each side is very unique, offering unique faction powers and abilities even before taking anything else into account. Then you pick the leader of the army, which further changes how the game will play. There are three in the Atmos Federation and two in the Tellus Commune; they each have different playstyles, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
And most importantly, the coolest minis in the game.
After that, build out the rest of the army by choosing which models to include. There are a ton of awesome minis with unique weapons, stats, and abilities to customize to the desired strategy. Each model has a certain point value, and you’ll have 150 points to spend building the army. Each model also has a maximum number of them that can be included, and some have special weapons and additional abilities that can be added to them for extra points. The number of different combinations here is insanely high, but we’re not done yet! Now you get to build a deck from the available cards for the chosen side, of which there are hundreds of options.
Some unique leader cards, spell cards, and tactic cards.
The chosen leader has a bunch of unique cards they can bring to the battle, spellcasters have their cards for the various spells they can cast, and each side has a ton of tactic cards that can aid with whatever strategy/playstyle you’re going for. Then choose the three gambits as well! Like I said earlier, I don’t know exactly what these will offer, but having all sorts of other objectives will definitely shake up the game and change playstyles/strategies. Furthermore, the fate decks are shuffled randomly, so throughout the game different cards will turn up there as well, again changing how the game plays. All this is without even factoring in the additional Kickstarter models and expansions that will be offered! As you can see, you could play this game every day for a year and still have it be unique.
As another bonus to mention, there will be different game modes to try, and you could always change the army point value and try various terrain configurations to shake things up even more, if all that isn’t enough variability for you. The game creators will also be offering the STL files for the minis with every pledge, which is amazing if you are into (or looking to get into) 3D printing, as you’ll get a ton of absolutely incredible minis to print and include in the game. There’s even a pledge level for just the digital assets so you could print the entire game yourself. Having more of the various models will increase the potential army variability to astronomical levels! This also means you wouldn’t need to find someone else with the game to play with more than two players, as you could print more models (but you would probably need to make a different battlefield to fit everyone).
This game will be perfect for you if: You are looking to get into miniature wargaming, but dropping hundreds of dollars is too intimidating.
*cough* Warhammer *cough cough*
Or if you already enjoy miniature skirmish games and are looking for a new one with some awesome minis, fun and fast gameplay, and loads of variability to keep things fresh.
This game will probably be for you if: You’re a 3D printing enthusiast; you would love a lot of sweet minis to paint; or you play games like MtG for the deck construction more than the actual playing, as this game has plenty of pre-building and planning for you to do!
This game will probably not be for you if: You don’t like the thought of having to plan ahead and build an army/construct a deck; the thought of non-hex based movement is scary; you’re rather new to modern board gaming and completely new to mini wargaming, as may be a bit much to start with; or if you have every mini game under the sun, as this probably won’t be so incredibly different as to be worth getting (just look at your shelf of unpainted minis, do you really need more? Do you?).
I think this game is a great way to get more into miniatures based strategy games, but offers a lot for those more experienced as well. If any of that is what you’re looking for, I would recommend Legacy of Atmos. If you are interested, however, I would always recommend looking into it yourself and watching videos/reading the rulebook before committing. While board games are getting expensive, this will still cost more than a lot of them so definitely take that into account. If you’re already into miniature games then I don’t need to talk to you about price.
Even this is $90 on Amazon.
I hope my review was informative and entertaining, please let me know what you think!