A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the collected edition of The Few and the Cursed: Crows of Mana’Olana indie comic for Geekorama.net. Spoiler: I loved it. I reached out to writer/creator, Felipe Cagno, specifically because I wanted to know more about this amazing world he created with artist Fabiano Neves.
You can read my review of the comic, but in short: we find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic future where the world’s oceans have all dried up and water is worth more than gold. The main protagonist, “The Redhead”, travels the Pacific Desert collecting bounties on a variety of evil creatures as a “Curse Chaser.”
The board game draws from the comic books directly, or more generically, as it needs. The towns of Mountain View, San Andreas, Mana’Olana all feature heavily in the main series, whereas I don’t remember Santana de Aguasicia or Expedition at all. I suspect the last two come into play from the Chronicles or Shadow Nation books. Two of the big bads, Tsilkali and Crow Prime, similarly come from the main series, while the other two presumably come from those other titles. I honestly don’t know about most of the lower-level Wanted or Most Wanted characters. At first, I assumed that was the case since the art is so consistent that I thought it was drawn straight from the comics, but the list of artists makes that unlikely. Unless you’re me, you probably don’t need to know or care about the cross-medium details so let’s move on.
But before I move on, I need to point out that I live in the real wild west where, unlike in the old west, lawbreakers are the ones not wearing a mask, which means until recently we were still locked down in one of the worst pandemic hotspots of North America. That, in turn, means I could only play the solo version of the game. The regular, competitive, mode ends when three of the four big bad Monsters are defeated, all of the artifact tokens have been recovered, or a Monster ever reaches San Andres in the center of the board. The player with the most Grit at the end wins.
For the solo mode, you can choose one of the three endgame goals: Curse Chaser, where you must defeat 3/4 Monsters before they enter San Andreas; The Dark Arts, where you need to collect Artifacts from all four Cursed towns; or Operating in the Shadows, complete 2/3 piles of random Job Cards.
Each of the four characters has different strengths and weaknesses, which becomes very important during solo play. For example, I found Annabelle’s slightly higher Curse threshold helpful for pushing out to collect artifacts, while Maecenas has a much higher production ability, allowing him to gain and spend water faster, and therefore build a stronger offence rapidly.
I’m very excited to try this game out in the multiplayer competitive and cooperative modes since there are abilities and cards that are basically useless in a solo game. Plus the inherent strategies of each character and how they interact will be fascinating.
Production-wise the game is beautiful. The artwork is stellar, and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t all just stripped out of the comics, but still maintained the quality of the comics. There are four miniatures for the main characters, and four more for the Monsters. They are great quality, and I’m hoping to feature one or more of them in our miniatures painting series, Slinging Paint, in coming weeks. There are four coloured bases that can be added to tell players apart, and I like that they slip on and off easily but still fit snugly. That’s something that not every game has mastered, and I’ve actually had figures snap off their bases because of it.
The board is big. Very big. Almost too big for the table I normally play on kinda big. That’s not a complaint, just something to be aware of if size is a factor for you. What IS a complaint is that nowhere does it mention that the board is double-sided, or that the reverse side is meant to harder. I did find a handful of little details like that, that weren’t in the rulebook, or if they were, I couldn’t find them. If I had to pick the weakest point in the game, the rulebook would hands down win (lose?). It’s a long rulebook, so it’s sometimes hard to find the answer to a question, and there were a surprising number of answers I simply couldn’t find at all. It’s not a terrible rulebook, but it could use a table of contents or index, and maybe another once-over to fill those small holes.
All told, this is a great game. I do have a deluxe expansion box that I’m holding onto until I can play it multiplayer, so this won’t be the last review you see on this.
TheRatHole.ca does not accept payments for our reviews but may have received a free review copy of this game.