Sleeping Gods was launched on Kickstarter after I spent too much money backing other games. In an unfortunate moment of responsible judgment, I missed the Kickstarter and was destined to experience KS FOMO again. Until our friends at Red Raven Games provided us with a copy for review, and now it will never leave my desk.
In Sleeping Gods, players assume the role of Captain Odessa, whose crew aboard the Manticore set sail for New York, but are swept away by a violent storm. When they come to their senses again, their ship has run aground and landed on a foreign land. It takes the crew just over a minute to meet the strange beasts. An ancient cackling informs them that they have stumbled upon the Wandering Sea, where the ruling gods have fallen into a deep sleep. To return home, Manticore’s crew must dig up the lost totems of the gods, awaken the gods in the hope that they will be benevolent, and bring the crew back safely.
The first thing I noticed was how well organized the latest Red Raven game is. Sleeping Gods comes in a set of individual boxes, making it easy to store and organize the campaign. In a market where organization is becoming so secondary that publishers are considering expensive third-party solutions along with accessories for some games, this small gesture left a big impression on me even before I knew what the gameplay looked like.
Like many recent campaign games, Sleeping Gods includes an excellent guide explaining the basics of game mechanics. While the tutorial scenario is useful for familiarizing new players with the general structure of the turn-based game, reading the full rulebook is highly recommended. There is a lot of terminology and a lot of information in play. If players aren’t familiar with all the components beforehand, Sleeping Gods can be a real challenge. But if players take the time to read the rules and play through the mile-long scenario before diving into the campaign, they’ll discover a pretty brilliant experience.
The turn structure is interesting: each player takes the role of Captain Odessa and gives orders to his crew. To figure out whose turn it is, the players pass the captain’s medal around the table, which will inevitably lead to a large number of them. In these games, the player captain must decide what the whole team does.
Each player begins his turn by choosing one of the five ship actions and placing a ship action tile on that space. With each of these actions, the active player can obtain a skill card and add it to his hand. In most cases, these actions also earn the players team tokens, which can be spent on valuable actions. Each time an action appears on the ship, players must choose a different action from the previous one. Options and implications :
- Bridge – The active player plays an Ability card, receives the Command Chits, and puts all used Command Chits back into the pool.
- Galley – The active player draws two skill cards and receives team tokens. If a player chooses, he may also discard a skill card from his hand to fatigue one of his crew members.
- The Deck – The active player receives team markers and may also draw search tokens. Players may also draw up to three search tokens, one at a time. This allows players to be rewarded with valuable resources such as money, materials or food. But it also has the potential to do damage.
- Neighborhood – the active player plays a skill card and receives several team tokens. You may also remove three used Command Chits and place them back in the storage pot.
- Infirmary – The active player plays a skill card, gets team tokens, and heals himself if a crew member is damaged.
Over time, Manticore will suffer damage from a variety of causes, including event tickets, history, or just the natural wear and tear of travel. Unless otherwise stated in the even numbered text, players choose which pieces of La Manticore will be damaged. Careful planning is required, as there are only two places in each room that can be damaged. If both slots are damaged, players can no longer use these pieces and no longer enjoy their valuable benefits.
As soon as the active player chooses and executes the action of his ship, he draws the event card and executes it. Many event cards draw resources from the crew, but let players choose where to place that draw.
In the last part of the round, players can take two of the following actions:
- Voyage – The skill Voyage ship can be used to move the ship to a new area of the Wandering Sea. Travel often comes with an added challenge: a skill check or the risk of damaging the manticore.
- Exploration – Exploration allows the player to interact with each of the locations in the region of the current ship. To explore the game, players read the story corresponding to the number of the location on the map and make choices that relate to the story and advance the game.
- Visit the market – In some regions, markets are maintained. As one of the two actions, players may in turn visit a marketplace located in the area of the current ship. The active player draws 7 cards from the market pile and may buy one of these skill cards.
- Dock in Port – if the ship is in the same area as the port, the active player may stop and visit the port. There, players can restore their health by resting at an inn, repairing a damaged ship, or spending experience to reach a higher level.
When the active player has performed all his actions, he passes the captain’s tile to the next player (who then repeats the obligatory quote from the movie), who may start his turn with an action on the ship. This cycle of actions repeats until the players manage to return home or face their fate in the Wandering Sea.
Given the nature of the Sleeping Gods campaign, the ease with which the game can be saved and packed away after a session is high on my priority list. Fortunately, Red Raven Games has taken this into account and made it as simple as possible. At the end of the session, players note on a memory sheet where their ship is located, the last action on the ship, the health of the manticore, and the cards and team tokens each player has. All active quests, adventure cards and resources are kept together in the included campaign box. The team’s character boards and all active markers on those characters are stored together, keeping all relevant markers together. When it’s time to return to Wandering Seas, players simply adjust the contents of the campaign box and redistribute character boards.
Perhaps even more important than this is the map on the back of the conservation sheet. The use of this card is essential for the success of the campaign. With so many regions and locations to explore, the story of the Sleeping Gods campaign will naturally falter a bit as new quests lead to clues discovered earlier in the game. The map with legend on the back of the storage sheet is a great way to keep track of which places the player wants to return to later (or avoid altogether).
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take careful notes. There are so many areas and places to explore that without the Manticore notes, it’s easy to get lost aimlessly and take unnecessary attrition damage. A retreat is inevitable. The key is effective administration and strict control of resources.
What makes Sleeping Gods such an interesting game is the rigorous management of resources and actions. Players may spend team tokens at any time to activate a skill. Once an ability has been used, it cannot be used again until the command token is removed from the ability, usually by a ship action. This mechanism means that players, especially at the beginning of the game, have to be very deliberate and careful about how often they use their limited skills. If you are not careful, you will easily have negative effects on your status, such as. B. Poison, which quickly undermines your health and leaves you without means to recover.
Sleeping Gods is a sprawling game of intricate exploration that is fun to return to. Resource management is so tight that the first few shipments are likely to fail. You could easily put fifty hours into Sleeping Gods before finally succeeding and returning to familiar territory – and that’s even before the expansion Tides of Ruin is included.
As much as I love Sleeping Gods and think it has everything a good game should have, it’s still not my favorite game, and that’s where I’m a little inconsistent. I like hard games. That’s why I prefer to play Awaken Realms games like Tainted Grail and Nemesis. But something about the way Sleeping Gods challenges players doesn’t sit well with me. I consider research games a genre I play when I need a story or just want to have coffee. This is my kind of crossword puzzle.
That’s why I prefer 7th Continent. The 7. Continent is always a tough game, but it’s never that tense. Maybe it’s because there’s no story to invest in like in Sleeping Gods, and I have no problem with failure. Failing the sleep gods is bad. It feels like you’re nearing the end of a long video game, only to be left with a sad ending that isn’t really worth the time you put into it (I’m looking at you, The Witcher 3).
But for anyone who has no preconceived notions of what their expeditions should be, Sleeping Gods is a great experience. In a game that takes so little time to set up and tear down, you can unlock a lot more people than I expected. Red Raven Games has made me a fan, and I will be following their future projects much more closely.
|1 – 4 players.||1 – 20 hours.|
Drive your luck
Captain Phillips References
|Sleeping Gods offers a clever set of mechanics that are not necessarily difficult to learn, but can be overwhelming for new players. Players must first become familiar with a short but steady learning curve. A well-organized set of rules is an excellent tool to make this process painless.|
|I’ve never been a big fan of Red Raven Games’ artwork, but the clear iconography and bright colors still benefit the game.||Once you’ve solved the riddles of the sleeping god, there’s no reason to go back. But it will take a lot of time for players to get there, so you still get value for money.|
A copy of Sleeping Gods was made available by Red Crow Games.
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