Recently, I was reading a thread on the Book of Face about the lack of campaigns in board games. “Yeah, computer games have moved from single player campaigns to multiplayer, why don’t we see the move go the other way with board games?” Fair point. If you want campaigns, you usually go to dungeon crawlers or big table games like Mansions of Madness. Also, it’s rare to see PVP games turning into campaign games, especially not deck-builders.
True, the Legendary series and DC Deck-builder possess campaign elements, but they reset at the end of every game. Also, although there are plots of sorts, there aren’t particular stories.
Shadow of Salvation brings both story and progress to the deck-builder. That alone would make it worth getting. However, not only do we get that, we get a new hero and a new faction: Rez and Aion.
What to Expect
First things first, though: the campaign. Players work as a team to make their way through the Battle Book. They choose their path and the campaign unfolds depending on their decisions. Anyone who has played Escape The Dark Castle or the Fighting Fantasy books will be familiar with this format – choose your own adventure! The challenges come in the form of Shadow Bosses and Shadow Champions (who are drawn by players from the Fate Deck), which players must confront together.
The bosses in Shadow of Salvation (the first being Moc Sai, the exiled monk) gain mastery in a similar way to the players, and these unlock new abilities, both for themselves and their champions. These super-powered adversaries can quickly overwhelm the players, so playing together nicely is the name of the game but taking down champions will give players much needed mastery and with them, much needed relics.
Once you defeat a boss (there are six in all) and saved a world, you can regroup and modify your starting deck for the next game. If you want to be the healer of the group, you can add Undergrowth to your starting roster, if you want to be the tank, go for Homodeus. This RPG style EXP model has been seen in the like of One Deck Dungeon, but here you get to build a proper party rather than a company of two. It also gives you an awful lot of replay scope if you want to try a different path. All in all… yeah, this looks really good.
That’s not all though. Linked in with the campaign game, but also playable as a fully-fledged PVP hero, is Rez and the Aion faction. Sent from the future to save the past (you gotta love a trope), Rez and his Aion allies, champions and relics’ abilities are linked to timey-wimey stuff. That timey-wimey stuff being the new Warp ability, which allows the player to fast play any ally card in the centre and not just the mercenary cards. Plus, the cards are red. RED.
Initial Thoughts on Shadow of Salvation
Much as I enjoyed the previous expansion, Relics of the Future, it did feel more like a footnote than an expansion. Shadow of Salvation, however, really changes things up. New faction, new abilities and a completely new game mechanic? This is how you do an expansion. It might even (dare I say it) challenge the mighty Legendary series in the co-op stakes. Who would have thought that would even be a thought?