Big box adventure games are a staple of Kickstarter-funded “tabletop” category projects. When you look at the most funded campaigns, they easily make at least 80% of them. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kickstarter has long been a place where you advertise endless adventures, with countless components and hundred pages long storylines.
The game we’re about to tell you today is huge, but that’s where the similarities end. Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles is a large scale euro strategy game that uses tons of creative ideas to tell its story through mechanics, instead of an attached book. And you actually get 2 games in 1 box, both connected by a quite unique plot.
The Lost Liner
Pearl of the Sea was a liner like no other. Hosting hundreds of passengers it moved through seas like a real, leisure fortress. That is until its final night when sky was bright from the strikes of thunders and the ship got carried far away. After crashing it ended up on a shore of a certain uncharted island. While the passengers who managed to stay alive began turning the area into a liveable place they met a threat none of them was expecting. Dinosaurs.
The newly created society has started their building effort despite the threat and did everything they can to fight the beasts back. While the beginnings were hard, as the time passed, humans started feeling more and more secure and kept on planning their expeditions into the unknown territory outside their base. While it sounds even more dangerous than fighting dinosaurs, strange structures visible faraway near the horizon keep tempting them with their mysterious shapes.
A Closer Look
The above paragraphs outline the story in the first and second chapter of the game. Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles is actually a series of games, called “episodic board game saga” by their creators. And they’re not just any creators. We have a real dream team here with designers responsible for Anachrony (Richard Amann, Viktor Peter, Dávid Turczi), Yedo (Wolf Plancke, Thomas Vande Ginste) and other great people. Mindclash Games is again attempting to create a theme heavy game in a completely unique world.
Both chapters were designed for 1 to 4 players and could be classified as meaty strategy games with lots of depth and high dependence on dice drafting and dice placement. The rules and general goals differ a lot between chapters – enough to make each one stand on its own. Still, they both share the general feeling and base mechanics. The gameplay is a mix of co-op and competitive games. You often have to work together but there is only one winner by the end.
The Perseverance Saga Begins
Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles can be played as one huge campaign. Contrary to most games that offer this solution, there’s no legacy elements. You just play both games in succession and the first one influences the second. It’s also worth mentioning that the whole saga is planned to be 4 chapters long, but we’ll have to wait until the next Kickstarter campaign ships to be able to play all four in a row.
When you complete the first chapter, your leader character develops, no matter whether you won or not. That’s possible mostly thanks to leaders gaining actual skills in chapter 2. There are 30 of them which allows for high level of customisation and a lot more replayability.
If you’d rather play the chapters separately – it’s always possible. Same with playing each of them in solo mode, which has you compete with an opposing, automa controlled, faction called The Dissenters.
Both episodes share some core mechanics like dice that are used to take actions and represent different specialists. Another mechanic called the Assembly – takes place each time there are no more dice in the pool. You get points for your followers in various settlement districts and the game continues. The third (or second if you’re playing a 2 player game) assembly is the final one and marks the end of the game.
Other mechanic present in both chapters is the fight for influence over the officers. You might be one of the most prominent leaders but it’s vital to make a good impression on the Officer Council and gain ever more power.
The board in chapter 1 focuses on the settlement building and divides the place into 4 areas dedicated to 4 different aspects of developing your community: Sustenance, Training, Expansion and Protection. All of these areas consist of 2 parts: the community one where you can build places to live and work on improving the city, and the defense one dedicated solely to fighting off the unending dinosaur hordes storming the gates.
Achieving success in the community area grants new followers and rewards, but so does focusing on the defense aspect. Your specialists can end up in any of these two depending on your strategy. No matter which you focus on more, having a bigger following than other players makes you the winner.
Outside the Walls
In chapter 2 you’re not just any leader anymore. Thanks to your work, your character gets actual skills and you can pick these to make him or her more unique and tailored to your taste. Need some examples? You character can become a Raptor Expert, a Lobbyist, a Pioneer, a Survivalist and many, many more.
In this chapter the town is already established and safe, but new priorities and ideas arise. The leaders want to focus on exploring the island. This time the settlement board has 5 zones, the new one being Discovery where your specialists are able to create adventuring parties. There’s also a new, upper part of the board filled with explorable hexes that you can also build outposts on.
The Kickstarter Campaign
Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles is available in two versions, both with prices exclusive to Kickstarter. The $95 Standard Edition contains both episodes, campaign and solo rulesets, leader and building minis as wall as a neat box and a KS exclusive dice tray. The $135 Deluxe Edition adds 64 dinosaur minis, metal trackers and squishy resource tokens as well as a huge box with a magnetic lock.
Is the game worth it? In our opinion: YES. A mix of great artstyle, creative setting, ambitious storytelling through mechanics and high replayability make Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles easily among our favourite Kickstarter campaigns of 2020 so far. We can’t wait for it and the other parts of the saga to release and ship.
We don’t know much about the second KS campaign, but judging from some artwork and designer diaries, we might be taming dinosaurs and using them to power up the island civilization even more.