Quick Look: Karak: Regent
Designer: Petr Mikša
Artists: Roman Hladík
Year Published: 2019
Long before the dragon‘s arrival, Karak was ruled by a powerful and cruel lord. Brave heroes could stop but not destroy him. Now he is coming back to restore his reign. Will you stop him or help him?
Karak: Regent is an expansion pack for Karak – you must have the basic game to play it. It brings 4 new heroes and many other components. Most of all, however, it introduces a new game mode – the Lord of Karak, in which one of the players takes on the role of the fallen ruler and tries to restore his ancient power.
It is no big secret that my family (in particular my daughter) loved the original Catacombs of Karak, so it was inevitable that when I heard there was an expansion for it, I’d have to find a way to try it. Unfortunately, in my neck of the woods it is very hard to find the Regent expansion for it, so I was initially at a loss. However, the publisher was kind enough to provide a copy for me to review, so here I am to talk about the game.
Here is what the game has to offer :
4 new heroes
New Lord of Karak chamber tiles (includes 6 arenas and 4 cursed chambers)
1 Lord of Karak sheet
New monster tokens (bats and skeletal mages)
And a new mode of play that utilizes the aforementioned Lord of Karak tiles.
Given that I originally doled out a score of 10/10 for the original game (especially given that it is a dungeon crawl that kids can play), I was not too sure what to expect from the expansion. Given that it offers more heroes (which is usually always a plus), we were pretty excited to try this.
The only question that remained is if the expansion could match the value of the original game?
And for the most part, yes, it can. The new materials do add to the game experience, and bring some more variety to the game. However, the addition of new materials does come at a cost…
First, let’s look at what the game does right :
The art is great, and the quality of materials is right on par with the original. The new characters contained in Karak : Regent are :
Valduk the Barbarian
Baron Markul the Battle Mage
Hannah the Acrobat
Lady Lorraine the Ranger
Each of these characters are depicted in with a style that blends perfectly with the original game’s cast. And the new abilities that they bring to the table are fantastic ; perhaps too much so, in fact…
One thing that we discovered quickly is that some of the new characters seemed slightly overpowered compared to some of the original Karak Krew : Lady Lorraine’s Bear Animal companion for example allows all 1’s rolled to be treated as 6’s, which significantly increases her odds of obtaining the highest die-rolls possible. Likewise, Hannah the Acrobat can get easy bonuses to her Combat Strength by being allowed to equip knives (usually worth a strength of 1) to her Spell Slots to gain a permanent bonus to her damage output—you do not consumed the dagger/spell slot at all to obtain this bonus as is the norm with magic missile scrolls, you just permanently get the bonus, and given how easy it is to obtain knives, you can see how crazy her damage potential can be given she could still potentially equip an Axe in her normal weapon slots!
So yes, some of the original game characters (though not necessarily all) seem to pale in comparison to the new protagonists. But perhaps this isn’t as big as an issue as it might initially seem to be.
Because the game also offers some new tiles and a new game mode that in all likelihood seems like it is meant to restore balance in the dungeons of Karak.
The 6 new Arena Tiles allow you to compete against your rivals in one-versus-one combat. If you land on an Arena Tile, you may issue the challenge to them, which summons their standee to your space no matter where they are on the map. Players then proceed to duke it out in a clash of the dice. Whoever gets the highest roll (which can be modified by the usual magic missile scrolls, etc) wins the fight and gets to take one item or treasure away from the loser, who also loses one health. This could really help those who felt left behind in the original game where once the best items were gone, they were gone…
There are also 4 cursed chamber tiles. Once a certain number of these have been revealed, the “weakest” player gets possessed by the deceased Lord of Karak. What does that mean? Their spirit infuses them with all of its handy battle abilities acquired throughout the ages, granting them virtually all of the special character abilities of ANY character in the dungeon! This can really help the person who is lagging behind in their acquired treasure that is necessary to win the game.
There are also some new items to be had :
Dark Thorns act as one-time use items that can be used at any time to inflict one point of damage on another character.
The Frost Fist acts as a magic missile scroll but gives a plus 2 bonus to strength upon consumption instead of just 1.
There are also two new enemy types : Blood-sucking bats and an ice skeleton mage, which yield the above new items when defeated.
Critical Analysis :
Quality wise, everything matches the sturdy construction of the original game, no complaints there. The new tiles match color perfectly with the originals , so you won’t be able to tell which is which when drawing them thankfully, unlike some other expansions I know of which had slight color mis-matches that made it easy to see what you might potentially be drawing in advance.
However, one thing that proved to be a bit of an annoyance is that the expansion is designed from the offset as a multi-lingual monster. And this in itself is not an issue, it is easy enough to find the English instructions in the half-dozen or so languages in the manual.
The trouble comes with the character portraits that you normally slide in the player boards—they are totally bereft of explanations of character abilities this time around (presumably since the game now seems to be made for multiple regions at once now) which for the sake of consistency , does not blend very well with the original character boards, which DO explain each characters’ abilities. Rather, each sheet just sports two icons that are supposed to represent each character ability, but the pictures are not really self explanatory and force you to look into the game manual whenever you forget what an ability does.
Consequently, I needed to print out descriptions of the character abilities myself to take onto the boards. I got it looking good, but still…not ideal.
So yes, so while the first time around I have no complaints about Catacombs of Karak, for Karak : Regent, there are some issues I find one should be aware of before purchasing. They are not enough to ruin the fun, it is still a great game, and even though it may feel slightly unbalanced at times, the new additions to gameplay still manage to breathe some new life into the game for people who have gotten too much milage out of the original game!
Final Score 8.7
Find out more at BGG.
Jazz Paladin- Reviewer
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