Vindication – Retail Edition

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Vindication (formerly Epoch: The Awakening) is a highly strategic, fantasy-based tabletop journey for 2-5 players. Play time is 15-30 minutes per player. Thrown overboard for a life of wretchedness, you wash ashore a hostile island ruins — completely alone with nothing except the breath in your lungs and an undaunted spirit. Through your advanced resource management, area control t…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-ONB0100 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Exceptional Components

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • An experience-focused board game, rather than specific mechanics.
  • Plenty of variable modules to tailor your experience.
  • A medium-weight game.

Might Not Like

  • The game can end somewhat abruptly if someone gets the right mix of end-game conditions early.
  • The nicest components (the minis) don't see play unless you use one specific module.
  • There are a few oversights in some components.
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Description

Vindication (formerly Epoch: The Awakening) is a highly strategic, fantasy-based tabletop journey for 2-5 players. Play time is 15-30 minutes per player.

Thrown overboard for a life of wretchedness, you wash ashore a hostile island ruins — completely alone with nothing except the breath in your lungs and an undaunted spirit.

Through your advanced resource management, area control tactics, and freeform action selection, you’ll add companions to your party, acquire bizarre relics, attain potent character traits, and defeat a host of unusual monsters in the ultimate goal of mastering heroic attributes — and regaining honor.

You may perform 3 actions on each turn in the order you feel is most advantageous that turn: activate a companion, travel to a new location, and interact with a map tile. Many actions require the the use of your influence to gain attributes in a one-of-a-kind heroic attribute alchemy system, which is leveraged to gain the game's most powerful rewards. For example, you can meditate at a spire to gain inspiration. You can train at a fort to gain strength. But then you can combine your inspiration and strength to gain the courage (inspired strength) which allows you to perform a bounty hunt.

There are distinctive end-game triggers that can be affected through game play, over 72 unique card abilities that can be merged in unusual ways for potent combinations, and fresh tile placement each game for high replayability.

…and no, we’re not quoting Brooklyn 99 here! Vindication is a 2-5 player sandbox-style game from Orange Nebula. You are a wretched guilt-ridden scumbag (but only in the game, I’m sure). Having been thrown off your ship, you wash up on the shores of an unknown island. After a passing traveller revives you, your aim is to explore your new surroundings. You might even turn over a new leaf. Though, vindication isn’t necessary if you’d prefer to waste your untapped potential.

The winner is the player who achieves the most honour, the main objective of the game. Players achieve this through controlling territories, hiring companions and accomplishing valourous feats.

Gameplay

Before we get into how to play, you should know about two of the main mechanisms in the game. The most important module in the game is your player board. You start with a limited amount of Influence cubes, your main currency in the game. Influence fuels many of the game’s actions, such as hiring companions or gaining attributes. You also have an amount of dormant Potential that can be later converted into Influence. You can also augment Influence into Conviction, which allows you to take control of areas on the map. It also allows you to perform an Empowered draw. This allows you to select from several cards when taking an action rather than just one.

The second mechanical consideration is that of Attributes. There are six attributes in the game, each of which you gather by converting your influence. The three basic attributes (Inspiration, Strength and Knowledge) are most common. These tie into the most basic actions in game and are easily acquired. The heroic attributes (Wisdom, Vision and Courage) are a merge of two of these basic attributes. Management of attributes will dictate what companions you can hire. It will also dictate which methods of gaining honour points are available to you.

A turn in Vindication consists of three basic actions: Move, Activate, and Visit/Rest. Move allows you to explore the island, revealing new locations on your travels. Movement is the only mandatory action, as players must move at least one space per turn. Players use the triangular spaces between tiles to move, and only one player can occupy a space. Your movement distance is also capped by your mount tile. You can upgrade this during the game to increase the maximum distance you may move on a turn.

Next, a player may Activate either themselves or a Companion they own to gain attributes. Activating yourself costs nothing but yields less conversion of Influence into attributes. Activating a companion is more profitable, granting both attributes and powerful effects. However, you must place Influence on a companion to activate them, locking it there for the time being.

Finally, a player may Visit an adjacent location. Visiting locations can also give players attributes, or ways to spend them. For instance, visiting a Fort converts two Influence cubes into the Strength attribute. There are 19 locations in the base game, with several copies of the more important locations. You can also exchange some of these tiles for other location modules included in the box.

Outside of the three basic actions, players also have access to five bonus actions. Players may convert any two basic attributes into their respective heroic attribute. They may do this any number of times in a turn. Second, players may pay three cubes from one attribute to take a proficiency tile. These contribute to end game scoring. Third, players may spend a Conviction to take control of a region they have visited this turn. This grants honour when it’s first acquired, and when another player visits the region. Players may only take control of one region per turn. Fourth, players may recover any number of Influence cubes from anywhere aside from their Potential. If a player recovers cubes from a companion, remove the companion from the game. That player also loses the honour associated with that companion.

Finally, if a player has 25 honour and no cubes left in their Potential, they may vindicate themselves. Flip your character tile over and receive five honour. Vindication is not required to win the game but does make your character more able to channel Influence into attributes.

Players continue sequentially until they meet one of two end-game conditions. After advancing to a trigger token on the score track, another end-game condition is added. After players meet one of the revealed conditions, they finish the current round and then play one final round. Players will then gain honour for these end-game bonuses;

  • Two honour for every controlled region.
  • Honour for their secret quest (A set of secret goals given at the start of the game).
  • Honour for any end-game bonuses (i.e. Monster cards)
  • Honour for any Mastery tiles acquired. Mastery tiles go to the player who has the most cards of each Attribute. Proficiency tiles count as two cards for the purposes of checking Mastery.

The winner is the player who has achieved the most honour after scoring the above.

Vindication – Game Layout and Components (Credit: Orange Nebula)

Final Thoughts on Vindication

Vindication is a medium-weight Euro masquerading in the body of a fantasy adventure. However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. From its idyllic art to the board layout, Vindication prides itself on its appearance. The game looks stunning whether you’re playing the base game or including some of the extra bits. The game comes with enough to keep you entertained for many plays without any repetition.

Gameplay reminds me a lot of Western Legends. You wander around the island, picking up companions and accomplishing quests. Yet, there’s no dead space on the island, everywhere you go there are useful things to do. Most movement spaces give you three potential regions to visit on any given turn. There is also a very ‘points salad’ approach here. Everything you do, from acquiring relics to defeating monsters, will net you points. Your Journey and Secret Quest cards give you potential directions as well. However, I felt I was happy doing my own thing if I wanted and still achieve a decent score. There are plenty of different companions, let alone the heroic attribute cards to discover.

Unfortunately, I do wonder whether the game does feel a bit bloated. Of the seven gorgeous minis in the game, only the first player marker is used with any regularity. The other six are relegated to specific modes of play, which is a bit of a shame. I also found the tile bag incredibly tight (though they have fixed this in the expansion). I also found that the card storage wells are not tall enough to stop the cards jump out of place if you store your games vertically.

But, for every piece of bloat there is a piece of ingenuity that supersedes it. The included GameTrayz keep most components secure and separated ready for use. I especially like the individual player trays. Each one holds everything a player needs in a compact and intricate design. I also found that I could introduce the smaller modules without much extra explanation. I wouldn’t include everything at once but cherry-picking a few each time will keep the game fresh.

The game plays in about 30 minutes per player, which feels a little succinct to me. Sometimes it feels like the game is just ramping up before it abruptly ends. However, it’s short enough with enough things to consider that I want to play again and again.

Vindication blends theme and form into a coherent package. The presentation is a splendid deviation from established Euro games. Play time makes it perfect for weekday game nights, and there are plenty of ways to diversify the experience. It is a bit of a table hog (especially when using the monuments), so be wary of the need for plenty of room. Heavier gamers may prefer a different experience. For me, the experience hits home in both flavour and mechanics. I have high hopes for this being my go-to Euro for years to come.

We have both the retail and Kickstarter editions of Vindication on our website.

Vindication is a Euro-style game designed by Marc Neidlinger and published by Orange Nebula games.

The main objective of Vindication is that of honour. You are on a quest to gain as much honour as possible before the end of the Epoch.

You will explore the island looking for opportunities to expand your influence, recruit companions, obtain traits and artefacts and defeat monsters all to gain the most honour.

Setting Up

First, place the board in the middle of the table shuffle the Monsters, Traits, Relics, Strength, Knowledge and Inspiration decks. Place them on their relevant spots on the board with one card face up. The rest will need to form a deck as seen below.

Each player then draws, or are dealt, a journey card. This will dictate the players starting position on the board and the colour of the starting companion. Their companion will be drawn from the top of the relevant deck.

Play with Conviction

Each player has a player board that tracks their potential, influence and conviction:

Influence is the primary “currency” in the game, you will spend it to activate yourself or your companions and on the mainboard to track the common attributes of Inspiration, Knowledge and Strength as well as the Heroic attributes of Wisdom, Vision, Courage.

Common attributes are primarily used to be converted into heroic attributes, pairs of common attributes convert as follows:

Inspiration and Strength = Courage

Inspiration and Knowledge = Wisdom

Strength and Knowledge = Vision

Activating

On a player’s turn they can complete all of the following actions in any order:

  • Activate – Using the ability of your character or that of your companions (you can only activate one character a turn)

In the above example, if you activate this companion, you would take two of your inspiration from your board. These would then be placed in the Knowledge spot on the mainboard.

The text at the bottom of the card is normally only used when you activate that particular card. The above example operates slightly differently. Iis only relevant at the end of the game when determining mastery, the most of a particular colour of tile.

  • Move – Move a number of spaces up to your normal speed

You must move at least one space. Remembering that you can only move in the triangles between hexes.

All About Hexes

For each unoccupied hex passed by your move, draw a tile from the bag. This then must be added to the board.

  • Visit a Region or Rest – After moving, you can then use the effect of any of the adjacent tiles.

In addition to the above you can also complete any/all of the following bonus actions in any order:

  • Convert Heroic Attributes as described above.
  • Gain Proficiency – if you have three of any attribute, you can convert them into an associated proficiency tile.
  • Control a region – pay conviction on a visiting region to gain control of the region. If other players use that region in the future, you will gain two honour.
  • Recovering influence – at any time you can recover a block to your sphere of influence.
  • Vindicate yourself – once you have met the criteria, you may flip the character tile over from the wretched to vindicated side.

The game ends when one of the game end triggers are met. At the start of the game, 2 end game triggers are flipped face-up. When a player passes the 30,45,60 or 75 honour marks, more game end triggers are drawn and revealed. Once a player meets the requirement of one of them, the next round becomes the final round for all of the players.

Final Thoughts

Here are the basics of how to play the base game of Vindication.

The base box contains a number of expansions. Some of the expansions are smaller and easier to add to the base game. You’ll just need to replace some of the basic tiles with the expansion tiles. Others expansions such as the Myths and Wonders Expansion, add more depth with a monster to battle!

The Kickstarter edition of Vindication plays the same as the retail edition. The Kickstarter edition has an added objective to wake and provoke the monster. This will continue until you are rescued using an additional game board. Other players will need to use influence to fill spots on the board. Once all are filled, you are rescued and Tuuk-Tuuk kills the dragon!

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • An experience-focused board game, rather than specific mechanics.
  • Plenty of variable modules to tailor your experience.
  • A medium-weight game.

Might not like

  • The game can end somewhat abruptly if someone gets the right mix of end-game conditions early.
  • The nicest components (the minis) don't see play unless you use one specific module.
  • There are a few oversights in some components.