Deep in the Aftermath

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10/25/2017 Aftermath by Caldwell Games
Rating 9/10

Article written by Ryan Williams
Contributor and Writer

Dark Star Rating: 9/10, highly recommended
Age Range: 14+
Players: 1-5
Length: 30-60 Minutes per Player per 5 Rounds
Complexity: Low, easy to learn and still engaging
Objective: Gain the most Fame
Replay Value: High, the random story element is fantastic
Components and Pieces: There are a great many boards and pieces involved
Story: Open World Roleplaying with random encounter narration.
Cost: $100, High-quality parts and well done artwork
 

I was given a great opportunity to check out this up and coming title by Caldwell Games. Creator David Caldwell sat me down for a two player run through of Aftermath and I was not disappointed. With a new take on the post-apocalyptic wasteland adventure genre, David has created an exciting and engaging title that is sure to leave you wanting to play over and over.

 

Review

Dark Star Rating?
9/10

This game comes highly recommended. It has many of the qualities we look for in an interactive tabletop experience. Exciting game-play, great artwork, quick to play rules, with fun new twists to a favorite setting. The reason for 9 out of 10 instead of a perfect score is simply due to a lack of cosmetic polish on some of the pieces. This, I was assured, will be fixed on the production versions come release day, and once we pick up our copy, we’re all sure the rating will jump up to a 10. This is a fun game. I have played many games of many different types and genres over the years, and I can say that this has been some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a board game.

Appropriate age range.
14+

Some of the encounters can be dark in nature, one of my own involved a cannibal interested in making be into a meal/coat. This is not however as grisly or gruesome as it would suggest. While Aftermath is a wasteland with all that would suggest, the text describing the encounters is no more raw than what is common on network television.

How many players?
1-5 players.

Capture3The depth of this world is such that the addition of more will lengthen play time, but I can’t see that as a negative. This is a rare game, in that it could be incredible fun all by yourself. Though my play through was with a second payer, I can only see it being more fun with the maximum number of participants.

How long does it take to play a game?
30-60 Minutes per Player per 5 Rounds.

This will depend on how many rounds the players choose, and how many players are involved.

What is the Objective?
To become the most famous wasteland wanderer.

By investigating and surviving Points of Interest, salvaging materials, or expanding existing settlements, your character builds their legend. The player that gains the most Fame by games end wins. However the flexibility and fun of this system could easily be used to create win conditions of the players choosing, be it Fame, or last man standing. Missions are cards gained at either the games onset or in town. These play and huge role in the how and why of Aftermath. They help you grow your Fame by completing important tasks, and reward you for your efforts in doing so.

Replay Value?
Enormous!

The random map, equipment, missions, and encounters makes sure there is always going to be a fresh and exciting take on this adventure role-playing title. Each player can pick from a huge number of randomly generated traits and gear to attempt a different means of conquering the irradiated wastes and its deadly denizens. Each time you open the box, a new set of challenges and adventures is sure to greet you.

How complicated are the rules? Scale 1-5
An easy 2. Easy to learn, exciting to master.

While a slight learning curve exists, it will only take a round or two for an experienced player to teach someone new, and I cannot see a new player struggling to learn on his own. Once the game has started everything becomes very clear, and each next move makes enough sense to be obvious, yet is somehow delightfully original and fresh.

How many components are needed to play?
There are a great many boards and pieces involved.

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  • Map Tiles
  • Character boards
  • Various color coded cubes
  • Metal money tokens
  • D6/D8/D10/D12/D20

Multiple parts are involved and can seem a daunting task at first glance. Each player has their own character “sheet”. A board with slots and markers for items, companions, traits, and even water rations. The areas are filled with small plastic color coded cubes, making the placement obvious and organic. After just a few scant moments every card and peg makes sense in its placement, thanks to the color coded tiles and fit for each piece.

The game map is a series of tiles with a hex like format that are placed down to grow the gaming area as the players continue to explore the Aftermath. No two games will be the same as the map is randomly selected when a player decides to explore further. Each settlement that is discovered comes with a dedicated board to track your Reputation, as well as develop the city itself by building everything from guard towers to beerhalls. These each grant advantages to the surrounding tiles and/or players.

Each player has a plastic miniature to represent their location on the map, and money comes in the form of small metal bars with attractively engraved numbers. The figure I used to mark my position was simple, however I have been assured that production models will expand this. On top of that, the model was not so low quality as to distract you from the overall experience. It did its job marking my location on the map perfectly.

How compelling is the story?
Open World Roleplaying with random encounter narration.

Capture4For those that find the narrative of a post-apocalyptic waste a thrill, this is the board game to play. Each player creates their own legacy and story in the wastes. Each encounter comes in a method not unlike the choose your own adventure novels of yesteryear, but in the best possible way. Each Point of Interest has a number on it. That number is found in the adventure book to establish the location, such as graveyards, ghost towns, or meeting another wanderer. Rolling a D20 selects the encounter, and using a combination of traits, gear, companions, and good old fashion luck decides how that story goes. With each successful encounter your Fame grows, bringing you closer to victory. Of all my encounters I never once saw the same situation unfold, giving it a fresh and exciting feel with each roll of the dice. I see no reason why this could not be used as part of a campaign with the player’s characters progressing in game after game.

How much does it cost?
Approximately $100

Overall Opinions

This game is great! It was quick to learn, fun to explore, does not lend to power gaming rules lawyering, and left me wanting more. The random nature of its encounter system, the quick and organic rules, and amazing replay value, marks this out as an obvious hit once it drops in the coming months. Make sure you check out his website (www.CaldwellGames.com) for upcoming news and artwork.Capture3

Artwork used with permission from Caldwell Games.

 

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