Shadows of Brimstone: Valley of the Serpent Kings Adventure Set

Shadows of Brimstone: Valley of the Serpent Kings Adventure Set

RRP: £109.99
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RRP £109.99
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In the Valley of the Serpent Kings Adventure Set, players take on the role of a group of Spanish Conquistadors, exploring the dark halls and stone ramparts of a Spanish Fort that has fallen into Darkness, overrun by demons and creatures. As a Team of Conquistador Heroes, you can play as the fearless El Capitan, leading his men with boundless ambition, the classic Explorer, guiding t…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-FFP0721 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Unconventional twist on the Dungeon Crawler genre
  • Works as a standalone game, linked campaign or expansion to existing content
  • Masses of expansion content available

Might Not Like

  • Theme might not be for everyone and is arguably problematic.
  • Could do with more scenarios in the basic game
  • Big footprint and a whole lot of content which can be overwhelming
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Description

In the Valley of the Serpent Kings Adventure Set, players take on the role of a group of Spanish Conquistadors, exploring the dark halls and stone ramparts of a Spanish Fort that has fallen into Darkness, overrun by demons and creatures.

As a Team of Conquistador Heroes, you can play as the fearless El Capitan, leading his men with boundless ambition, the classic Explorer, guiding the expedition through the jungle swamps, the armored Soldier, a front line fighter armed with a heavy crossbow to skewer all but the toughest of Enemies, or the agile and deadly Duelist, fencing with twin blades and blurring the line between dance and death.

New Enemies include Drowned Dead, lost explorers that rise up from the watery depths to take their revenge on the living, Serpentmen Archers, keeping their distance to fire a deadly volley of Dark Stone arrows at the Heroes, Temple Guard, a new breed of brutish Serpentmen that defend the temples of the Serpent Kings with savage ferosity, and the mighty Croxin Beast, a massive reptilian creature unleashed by the Serpentmen as a beast of war!

This set also features brand new material for the Swamps of Jargono OtherWorld (first introduced in the Swamps of Death Core Set), a murky jungle swamp filled with giant insects, carnivorous plants, and vicious Serpentmen. The Heroes will explore a new region of Jargono - the Valley of the Serpent Kings, with new Map Tiles, Encounters, Artifacts, World abilities, and Enemies to battle, letting you explore the Swamps for the first time, or expanding your existing collection.

Includes everything you need to play a group of Conquistador Heroes and explore the Valley of the Serpent Kings in Jargono, or adventure in the Spanish Forts on Earth: 4 Conquistador Heroes, 6 Drowned Dead miniature, 6 Serpementmen Archer miniatures, 3 large Temple Guard miniatures, 1 Croxin Beast XL miniature, 3 Conquistador Footmen Ally miniatures, and 6 Carnivorous Plant miniatures with bases; plus dice, map tiles, cards, rulebook and reference sheets.

Valley of the Serpent Kings is one of two new core sets for Flying Frog Productions massively successful co-operative dungeon crawl adventure game series, Shadows of Brimstone. The game is tinged with mythos horror and spans not only historic settings in our world but realms across time, space and reality. Whilst previous core sets focused on the Old West and Feudal Japan, the two new core sets are based (at least, to start with) in the time of Vikings and, in the case of Valley of the Serpent Kings, the Conquistadors. If you’re wanting to delve into the early days of the golden age of sail, then this is the one for you!

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

The basic premise of Brimstone is simple: choose one of the 4 available characters (there are many more from expansions, and everything is interchangeable), take some random starting equipment, and explore for gold and glory – but beware what lurks in the darkness of the jungle! Survive, and you can return to improve your outpost, customising it to your group’s preferences: will you fortify and hide behind your walls, or try to engage in dialogue with the local tribes? This element of customisation adds a stronger sense of narrative continuity to the game, which can be lacking from Brimstone games: yes, your characters have always developed along skill paths, but it’s never really been the case that there’s been a sense of a broader storyline. This one of the biggest strengths of the new Brimstone Adventures line: it’s something of a lifestyle game (read: it will take over your life) and you really do start to care about your characters, much like in a traditional rpg, so giving them a home (or at least a base) and sense of ongoing purpose is a major win. The 8 Scenarios included present plenty of variety, and have a real sense of storyline that you are progressing through: whilst it’s certainly not an rpg, it’s a more complete and satisfying experience than, say, Heroquest. There’s also a lot of discussion in-game – and you certainly start to feel yourself drawn into the characterisation, if you’re so minded – but equally, the game works just as well as a one-night one shot. As setup is as you go, it’s surprisingly quick to get going, lending itself well to a night’s occasional gaming as a group.

XIT LIGHT – ENTER NIGHT

Each character has, as mentioned, a number of different progression paths for development in game, so you do get that same feeling of investment in them as the game goes on – but first, you’ve got to actually survive. Mechanically, the game is relatively simple, but there are a number of key concepts. Tiles are typically placed at random from the starting point, though this will vary with individual scenarios (of which there are 8 in the base game). Random encounter tokens are placed on the tiles, which can represent marauding creatures, vicious flora, lost treasures or portal to other realms. Encounter tokens will normally indicate how many exits there are from a room, and in this way the dungeon – sorry, ruined Spanish fort – evolves as you go. Movement is random (d6) though many groups take it as 3 squares, however a roll of 1 gains a Grit, the game’s essential reroll/survival mechanic ; some groups will like the risk and reward of the random, others will want one less set of rolls and record keeping. As you explore, you proceed along the Depth Track, which reveals increasingly awful threats and additional random horrors, with one player charged with carrying the group’s lantern and Holding Back the Darkness (a terrible burden, to be leader). Will you survive the horrors of the dark? Will you be consumed first by beast or madness, or will you triumph and discover unimagined treasures?

OFF TO NEVERNEVER LAND

Speaking of treasures, Darkstone, the game’s magical currency, is not native to our realm, but leaks in from the OtherWorlds, mutating and corrupting all around it – which means giant carnivorous plants and the dead rising from the foetid depths. OtherWorlds are a key concept in Brimstone: strange, alien realms that stretch from abyssal pits to deep space, post-apocalyptic warzones to haunted forests, frozen ancient libraries to the belly of a literal beast. Jargano, the OtherWorld included here, is a parallel world of serpentmen, much like the Yuan-ti of D&Ds Forgotten Realms, with plenty of Mesoamerican iconography and some REALLY big dinosaurs. It doesn’t feel especially distant from the jungle, but manages to still feel sufficiently… other that stepping through a portal feels like a tangible risk in game – but of course, that’s where the greatest rewards lie.

GIVE ME FUEL, GIVE ME FIRE, GIVE ME THAT WHICH I DESIRE

It’s creepy and atmospheric, brought to life (or back to life) with fantastic hard plastic minis – a far cry from the original rubbery red plastic or questionable resin of the OG Kickstarter. The star of the show is the XL Croxin beast, a massive crocodyloid, but whether it’s the heroes (Duelist, El Capitan, Explorer, Soldier) and their henchmen (Conquistador Footmen), the Drowned dead or the various monstrous plants and serpentmen, the quality is superb. If I have a niggle, it’s that the Serpentmen minis are the same as the previous sculpts released, but this is a minor one as I don’t know anyone who plays this that doesn’t always want extra snakies. I have even added in Reaper minis to expand my draconic hordes! You also get many, many tokens, which are (fortunately) all distinct and different, and several decks of cards, all clearly marked. The box includes a pre-moulded organiser which will hold this and some additional expansion content, though if you’re an experienced Brimstone player you’ll know that this can rapidly get out of hand (and, indeed, box).

RIDE THE NIGHTTRAIN

As an expansion for other Brimstone games, it’s also a big hit. The Valley in the title is an addition to the Jargono OtherWorld first seen in the original Swamps of Jargono, and as with all Brimstone content, it’s fully interchangeable. Now I am biased: although Cities of the Ancients was my first Brimstone game, the Swamps were integral to the campaign I wrote for myself and the kids during lockdown, so I have a lot of affection for it. However, even I am aware that there’s only so many times you can raid a Raptor nest, so it’s great to have a wider variety of encounters for it. Yes, down the line you will want some expansion content probably (more critters! I recommend the Feathered Serpents, £RRP 24.99, for starters), but this is a heck of a good box and will keep you busy for many a month. And if you’re not sure where to go next, there’s always tile packs (RRP £39.99) or adding the Stone Portals (RRP £29.99) which are not only aesthetically pleasing but come with new card packs to put a spin on your exploratory efforts. Also, it’s worth noting it also comes with new variants for the existing core game scenarios, so if you do have them, you get even more value.

Overall, it’s an unconventional twist on the Dungeon Crawler genre that works as a standalone game, linked campaign or expansion to existing content (and there’s MASSES of expansion content available). The theme might not be for everyone and taking on the role of Conquistadors is arguably problematic; the game also does have a massive table presence, which is a mixed blessing, just as the fact that there is SO MUCH content available – nevertheless, highly recommended!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Unconventional twist on the Dungeon Crawler genre
  • Works as a standalone game, linked campaign or expansion to existing content
  • Masses of expansion content available

Might not like

  • Theme might not be for everyone and is arguably problematic.
  • Could do with more scenarios in the basic game
  • Big footprint and a whole lot of content which can be overwhelming