Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 60mins – 90mins
Play Time (Goof): 90mins – 180mins
Producer/s: Leder Games
Designer/s: Patrick Leder & David Somerville
I adore asymmetrical games. I think it comes from the joy of feeling like I’m playing a unique faction or role. My side has cool advantages I can hold over my enemies, and disadvantages I need to cover. An extension of my love of games with Player Powers.
Having said this, when Josh from Tabletop Wonderland first mentioned Vast: The Crystal Caverns… I wasn’t overly eager. For one particular reason. You can play as The Cave. This sounded a little silly to me… I mean come on. A cave? Oh by the way, turns out it’s an ancient sentient cave which yearns to be empty. It’s turned malicious throughout those many years… and it wants to crush every living soul in the cave.
Vast is no longer silly. Vast is freaking awesome.
When I say Vast is asymmetrical, it’s the most asymmetrical game I’ve ever seen.
The Knight. Brave Heroine of this tale. She has entered The Cave to slay The Dragon before it wakes up and threatens the nearby kingdom.
The Goblins. Greedy and violent. They seek the blood of The Knight. Using all manner of monsters, they hunt The Knight down from the shadows (sneaky bastards).
The Dragon. Waking from centuries of slumber. It requires food to fill its stomach (Goblins will do nicely), treasure to reignite its lust for gold, and to protect it’s eggs.
The Cave. Who needs to keep each other faction from reaching their goal until it can crush and kill them all.
The Thief. Cursed to be eternally undying. He has to steal the treasure in The Cave in order to break the curse and finally be at peace.
Hopefully by now you can see how all the different factions intertwine. Vast is really this sensitive ecosystem, until one of the players accomplishes their goal.
And I bloody love it.
Each move you make is calculated. During our first game where I was playing The Knight, I’d managed to max out my Grit in one hell of an epic turn (if I say so myself) so decided it was high time my blade tasted dragon blood! (Well… my bombs. Bastard was underground). I charged after The Dragon relentlessly, giving no regard to The Goblins… who proceeded to jump me and pummel me to death.
Every match of Vast we’ve had has been a nail biter. I do need to play more to determine if I feel all the factions are balanced, but as it stands they’re at least balanced enough to get everyone close to winning before The Goblins slaughter The Knight (they’ve won all our matches so far).
I’ll be honest. Vast isn’t perfect. While I’m yet to play it at all player counts, I struggle to see it working effectively at 2 players. Maybe it does. I’ll be sure to update you. But it almost feels like it would lose something in the ecosystem I mentioned above.
But where Vast really struggles is in learning how to play. While it’s true Vast provides each player with a set of rules to learn their particular faction, it leaves a lot left unanswered. And just because you kind of get your faction, doesn’t mean you know enough to even begin strategising. New players will always be out of their depth against people who’ve played before. And when you’re playing for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, it’s easy to see why people get frustrated if they have no chance of winning.
Vast comes with these player difficulty cards, and while yeah, they appear to help.. I don’t feel they’re enough for new players. They’re more for people who get the game but aren’t as competitive generally.
So Vast is a beautiful game which is really hard to get new people to enjoy.
Even writing about Vast I’m keen to play it more. It’s a bit of a longer game, with few large moves and more a series of smaller plays which add up to victory. It’s almost an endurance match (I want you to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into).
I absolutely love it. And can’t wait to teach more people… and somehow convince them to like it.
I got my copy through Tabletop Wonderland
Tabletop Wonderland are offering readers of The Goof Review a 10% discount off of your first month to their subscription service! Just use the code GOOFREVIEW10
Have a game you’d like TGR to glance at? Let us know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this article then share the joy on social media so others can enjoy it too. And check out our other reviews. They’re always good for a laugh.