Hardly any other topic appears as frequently in board games as space. Mindclash Games' highly complex novelty Voidfall, which is available in German from Skellig Games, also plays there. As is often the case, attempts are being made to gain dominance in the relevant part of space. The advertising copy for the game always says that it makes the 4X genre interesting for Eurogamers. In this review you will find out whether there really is the good from both worlds and how Voidfall generally performs.
4X describes a genre in which players discover (eXplore), expand (eXpand), exploit (eXploit) and destroy (eXterminate) according to the English meaning. In void fall The first and last “X” only have a limited effect, as the map is completely visible from the start and other players cannot be defeated. In the end, classifying almost all modern board games into a clear category is difficult or impossible, so we are (as is often the case) dealing with an exciting mix. This is where 4X elements meet economic Eurogame elements.
Story-wise, it's laid out thick here. In the compendium, which is one of three instructional components in the game, the world is described on the first nine pages. The events in the game were preceded by a long reign of House Novachron over the Domineum. The Domineum is the galactic empire of humanity.
The Novarchs owe much of their knowledge to the influence of the Void. However, the void has its own plans. She “grows” the Domineum to a size that will satisfy her endless hunger.
Dreaming of false salvation, the Novarchs want to welcome the Void, but it brings nothing but corruption into the world and takes control of the inner worlds.
As the leader of one of the fourteen Great Houses included, the players now take control of Domineum and try to push back the chaos that the Void is spreading.
The three booklets in the box alone (instructions, compendium and glossary) total more than 170 pages. Luckily you don't have to read everything before the first game. However, the description of the structure alone requires more than ten pages. All other pages in the compendium show the specific structure of the individual scenarios. The glossary contains detailed descriptions and explanations of all effects and cards. In addition to the instructions themselves, the glossary in particular will be consulted frequently, especially in the first games.
The basic gameplay is quite clear. The high level of complexity results primarily from the huge amount of possibilities and the scarcity of resources, fleets, etc.
A game is made up of three cycles, which in turn consist of three phases. Phase A is for the preparation of the respective round. The players only really become active at one point.
There is a galactic event in each round. At the beginning of the round, one half of the event is resolved. They trigger a wide variety of actions and effects. These can also have an impact on the action phase.
In phase B, the players carry out their actions. To do this, they play one of their nine focus cards and activate two of the three effects printed on it. The third action can also be carried out with a trade tile. An agenda card can also be played to use its action. Between two and four actions are possible.
The individual actions are summarized thematically by the name of the focus card. For example, the production focus allows you to advance on the so-called social track on your own tableau (thrive), produce food, energy and materials in conjunction with victory points for corresponding production buildings (stockpile) or remove corruption or move your own fleet (Support financially).
How many focus cards can be played is determined by the galactic event of the current cycle. The number ranges between four and six.
Once everyone has completed their actions, the third phase follows. Here the void penetrates into the players' areas and tries to gain influence there. Fights, whether against fellow players or the void, can be completely planned out. There is no element of chance whatsoever.
The players then have to pay maintenance costs for structures (guilds or bases) and agendas attached to their house board. If the appropriate amount of food or combination of energy and materials is missing, you lose three victory points each.
Points are awarded at the end of a round. On the one hand, the galactic event shows conditions for the fulfillment of which you receive points, but the agendas set up on your own house board also offer lucrative opportunities to collect victory points.
Whoever was able to collect the most victory points after three cycles wins.
Unlike many other games, there is no element of chance in the battles. When a fight begins, it is already clear who will win. First, the “approach” is resolved in each battle. Defense systems and certain types of fleets begin to cause damage here.
This is followed by so many volleys in a loop until one conflicting party has been defeated. Whoever has the higher initiative (especially the number of fleets, but other effects also influence this) in the combat area deals the first salvo (exactly one damage). If the other party still has at least one fleet left, it hits back with damage. Before the next volley, it is checked again who has the higher initiative. The order can change due to effects that strengthen individual volleys or absorb damage.
Anyone who defends themselves in a fight receives no reward. If you were on the offensive, you receive victory points equal to the sum of your own fame tiles in addition to the newly conquered territory.
The influence of the void can be found in different forms on the playing field. The two main forms are the Corruption and the Void Fleets. In addition, there are harbingers, which are particularly relevant in solo and cooperative modes, and the void storms, which actually separate adjacent sectors from each other.
Void fleets behave like standard player fleets and have the same attack and initiative values.
The corruptions are small “nests”. You can block various game elements. If they are in sectors below the population cubes, they cannot be changed. The number of the population affects the production of the guild buildings.
Corruption can also be placed on your own board (civilization tracks, agendas) or the agenda board. In general, an element that contains corruption does not provide any bonuses and does not generate any victory points. However, some victory point conditions of Agenda cards and Galactic Events refer to corruption.
Solo and cooperative
If the competitive mode actually offers enough variation for countless hours of play, you get it void fall an equally comprehensive package if you want to play alone or together.
“Fortunately” there is no bot that you have to deal with in addition to the normal rules that you have to follow as a human player. For a game that Dávid Turczi worked on, the changes for the solo mode, which is practically the same as the cooperative version, are very clear.
The innovations compared to competitive play are largely limited to the presence of the crisis board. Depending on the difficulty and cycle selected, the so-called alarm deck is put together at the beginning of a cycle. At the beginning of each round of the cycle, the top alarm card is drawn. It determines which crisis pile a card is drawn from.
Crises always impose a condition that must be met in order to overcome them. For example, this could simply be paying additional costs for an action, or it could relate to the number of fleets sent out. As with all elements in the game, the possible forms are varied.
Another task is to fill the refuges with fleets. If you meet one of the three conditions, you can place an inactive fleet there. When a refuge is complete, everyone can choose a bonus.
At the end of the round, in addition to a battle against the Void, depending on the placement of the ongoing crises (crises that were not resolved in the round in which they were drawn), you may also have to pay resources.
At the end of the game, the void scores according to its own rules. As the game progresses, the players try to minimize these sources of victory points in the void as much as possible. If everyone has collected at least as many points as the void, you win the game together.
Information about Voidfall
|Number of people: 1-4 people|
Age: from 15 years
Playing time: 50 minutes per person
Difficulty: Expert game
Long-term motivation: very good
Classification: 4X, Eurogame
Game idea: Nigel Buckle, Dávid Turczi
Illustrations: Ian O'Toole
Publisher: Mindclash Games; German edition: Skellig Games, Quality Beast
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 130 Euro
At the beginning is void fall Above all, one thing: overwhelming. Just the time you have to invest in getting everything together, putting it together, setting it up and then reading the rules to play the tutorial can hardly be compared to any other game. Even after the tutorial, there are still aspects that can be learned. You only really get into the game after two or three “full” games. void fall It's also not a game that you just take out of the closet every now and then. Both in terms of time and money, this game is truly an investment that brings you a beautifully complex Euro gaming feel.
The Eurogame elements are primarily what is present in a game. There's so much to calculate and optimize that it's a huge joy (if you like it). When it comes to points sources, you'll find yourself up to your neck in a Euro points salad. Initial scores of around 150 points double after a handful of games and you end up with 300 or more points by the end of the game.
What was somewhat surprising in the test was how solitary the game is. It was never really appealing to move into other players' sectors and fight there. In the scenarios we chose (one with an “aggression level” of 3 out of 4), this was only possible in the third cycle at the earliest. It seemed more and more attractive to focus on expanding the sectors that were already under one's own control. Depending on the mentality of the players and the chosen scenario, an exciting dynamic can certainly arise. In our test we didn't come close to all scenarios in all configurations.
Virtually unlimited replayability
The number of different scenarios alone promises a huge amount of replayability. If you then add the possible combinations of the fourteen houses included, you will definitely be busy for a long time, even if you just want to play all the recommended setups.
Even if the gameplay is always the same, it always plays differently, especially with more complex houses, and the strengths and weaknesses become more and more clear. It makes no difference whether you play the game in solo/co-op mode or competitively. As far as long-term motivation goes, play void fall in the top league.
Not only does the “software” guarantee long-term gaming fun, but also the “hardware” in the form of the game material is of such high quality that you don't have to worry about it wearing out quickly in any way. Since there is a lot of material in total, you should plan with enough space on the table.
As is often the case with Mindclash games, the excessive use of symbols instead of text bothers me. The focus cards in particular are very large and the effects are not even printed on half of the surface, so there would have been more than enough space for helpful text. The rather irrelevant illustrations should have been omitted here in the interests of the flow of the game. In general, the game isn't really visually impressive, but that's a common problem for me with space themes. Ultimately, everything remains very abstract and there are no really imaginative elements that help to really fill the world with life.
The story of the game also remains very pale despite the many pages of background information. The void in particular, as a great antagonist, has never been able to evoke a feeling of threat that corresponds to the story. At the end of a cycle, there are hardly any situations in which it can really attack effectively, let alone take over a sector. Even in solo mode, where you should actually fight the void alone, the crises are the element that is really relevant.
Each game mode is excellent in its own right
void fall is recommended to anyone who likes expert games. Compared to “normal” expert games void fall but it's almost a step higher, which can be attributed primarily to the amount of possibilities that were initially difficult to grasp. In order to have a first approach, you should really take the time to play the very successful tutorial scenario. Since you only really get into it after a few games, you really should have a more or less same level of experience for the competitive mode. Apart from this point, which actually also applies to the cooperative mode, there are no negative points in any game mode.
Due to the huge scope for decision-making, the waiting times between your own trains are occasionally a little longer. Once everyone has more or less found their strategy, the game runs surprisingly smoothly, as the individual effects of the focus and agenda cards can be carried out quickly.
However, I liked the game best in solo mode. Thanks to the crises, it is an even more complex puzzle that is anything but easy to solve. The easy difficulty is still easy to win, but even on the normal difficulty it becomes much trickier. I didn't dare approach the highest level in the test.
Skellig Games has partnered with Mindclash Games to guarantee outstanding expert games. As expected, the quality here is at the highest level in all respects. If you like to play highly complex games and are not put off by the high time commitment, you might find the “one” game for your deserted island here.
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