Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 30mins Per Player
Play Time (Goof): 90mins – 180mins
Producer/s: Level 99 Games
Designer/s: Trey Chambers
Abracadabra and Presto! Pesto? Hmmmm… I like pesto.
Ladies and Gentlemen and everything in between. Honourable witches, warlocks, wizards, and various familiars. I’m back! Sorry. I know it was like I’d drank an invisibility potion or got trapped in an extra-planar dimension these last few weeks. In truth I’ve been very ill. Like ‘I swear someone cast a curse on me’ levels of ill. I couldn’t see, couldn’t hear (still can’t really), and couldn’t speak. Makes tabletop gaming somewhat difficult, let alone having the brainpower to provide a unique analysis while your head is on fire.
So while I’m getting over the last stages of what has to be at least a low level demonic possession, I thought I’d take a glance at a new game which hit my table, before getting back into some big reviews (I have a copy of Spyfall which Gateway to Games sent me to review but people have decided they didn’t want to be around me these last few weeks in case the demon jumped into them. So selfish. They wouldn’t even TRY an exorcism).
So why have I opened with a bunch of magical nonsense talk this week? Because I’m a geek. Gee… it’s like you don’t even know me. But also because today we’re taking on the role of various faculty staff at a top level magical school in Argent: The Consortium.
I first grabbed Argent: The Consortium purely because of how much I enjoyed Millennium Blades. I figured this Level 99 Games company might make my sort of games. Damn was I not disappointed.
Firstly, playing as a group of faculty members in a wizarding university conspiring and outplaying each other to become the Chancellor? There’s a theme I can get behind. Using different schools of magic, slinging spells, researching new and stronger spells, sending agents out to complete tasks, using relics and potions…all to further your magic career. I mean this is seriously cool stuff.
As a part of the conspiring, each player “marks” certain influential individuals and secretly determines which factors the individual will be considering for their vote. This hidden player information means sometimes you take moves which don’t directly further your goal, but rather provide you with additional information. Making the timing of seeking this information crucial.
But what I love most about this hidden information is the way you have to be clever with how you play. Are you playing too obvious? Meaning your opponent will know what they have to do in order to receive the vote without expending resources to find out? Can you use their lack of information in order to deceive? The other night for example I was taking two actions in order to advance my gold and wisdom. But the way I was doing this was to gain more gold than it was costing me to purchase scrolls (wisdom), as well as researching spells which had a lower wisdom cost then what I was gaining. Making it look like my actions were purely to get more spells which were useful. However, my opponent saw right through this tactic and figured there was a couple votes which needed gold and wisdom. However what he missed was the third vote which was in researching spells. This move led me to victory.
Argent the Consortium is on the longer end of the spectrum of games, to be sure. But what I’m finding is more important to me than the time it takes to play any game, is how invested I am in each player’s turn. Argent kept me invested the whole time.
I know this is becoming a bit of a large glance but can I quickly call out how freaking awesome the mana crystals are in Argent the Consortium? They’re so tactile. And when you cast a spell using a handful of crystals, you feel like a badass.
I don’t think this is necessarily the fault of the game, but it looks bloody intimidating when you pull it out of the box. So much so a player left our table the other night because it was a bit overwhelming to look at. I know it’s a common trope about Level 99 Games filling their boxes with more content than most games have in all of their expansions combined, but at least in Millennium Blades some of it was left in the box so it didn’t scare people away (can I point out each of the mages I’ve got pictured here has another side with another character and power!). I don’t want to encourage people not to put as much content in their games, because once you start playing here it clearly works. But it is something you need to be aware of if you’re looking to purchase Argent the Consortium.
However, because the game is quite in depth and complex, it is 100% a trap for people who suffer from Analysis Paralysis. So much so I’m really apprehensive to play the game at the full player count (I will though. Because I love you). And even glancing at the expansion which adds a sixth player had me exclaiming “why? WHY!” knowing it’ll probably take at least a day to play when I review it sometime in the future.
I talked about how cool the mana crystals were above, but I wanna call the coins out for being a bit crappy. Coming from the wicked Millennium Blades money stacks, it’s a bit of a letdown the coinage in Argent being light, flimsy, seemingly hollow plastic. Like yeah, the design on the coins is pretty cool. But you can feel how thin they are. And when you have a pile of money you’re dropping to get a cool treasure, the sound reminded me of a child’s toy. Which broke the immersion for me somewhat.
Argent the Consortium is a next level worker placement game. As much as I enjoy Lords of Waterdeep, and acknowledge it’s probably more accessible and less intimidating than Argent is, I would choose to play Argent over it every single time…okay. Depending on player count.
I did want to take just ten seconds of time at the end of this glance (you can get a lot done in ten seconds. Especially if you’re a Planar Mage) to let you know about this cool new Facebook group I found called Australia’s Board Game Sale & Trade Group. It’s where I picked up Argent brand new in shrink for a bargain along with a couple of others (Cheers Scott). Definitely worth checking out.
Have a game you’d like TGR to glance at? Let us know in the comments!
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