Flying Frog Productions continue to produce core sets and expansions for their Shadows of Brimstone game setting. Set in a Wild West where ancient horrors have emerged to threaten the town of Brimstone and the wider world, players must work together to push back the creatures who would seek to devour the world.
The City of Ancients core boxed set is packed to the very gunnels with plenty of gaming materials. Lifting the box lid, the first thing you see are the cards. The game uses an awful lot of them, split into various suits. The size of standard playing cards, these cards have various uses. Decks include Gear and Artifacts, Starting Gear and Personal Items and Hero Staring Upgrades to enhance your characters. Other cards are built into the gameplay itself, with Map cards to randomly create the playing area, Darkness cards designed to aid the forces of Evil, Encounters to offer narrative events, Threat cards to show which creatures are attacking the heroes, Loot to collect, Growing Dread which come into play during the last Fight of the adventure and Scavenge cards.
Beneath the cards are the all-important dice. The game comes with 8 red and 8 white standard 6-sided dice, with the red being used for Enemy attacks and the white being used for when the Heroes roll. Also included is an 8-sided dice and a special Peril Die, the latter being most often used to help determine the number of enemies being faced by the Heroes.
Of course, all this talk of Heroes and Enemies means we need miniatures to represent them. These can be found in a large plastic bag, with more bagged miniatures within. We have four Hero character miniatures, and then a number of Enemy figures for the forces of Darkness. All of these are molded in the same, grey hard plastic and require some basic assembly before they can be used. They also come with different-sized round bases which can be used for each miniature and are 32mm sized / scaled, with the human figures being quite thin.
The next level brings us to more paper and card, this time in the form of the 35 page Rulebook and the 63 page City of the Ancients Adventure Book. The core rules are remarkably simple to follow and are very well laid out. The adventure book expands upon the Hero character options and the setting, complete with scenarios or ‘Missions’, descriptions of the various Enemy creatures, setting descriptions, maps and even a brief comic book introduction.
Moving past the paper, we’re into the realms of the cardboard components. We have location cards complete with events and items to purchase, an Injury and Madness chart, Hero and Enemy character cards with all the relevant game stats and reference material you could need, all presented in an easy to read style on A5 or slightly larger cards. A nice touch is the fact that the hero character cards are double-sided, allowing you to play any of the characters as either male or female. Lastly, we have the punchboard tokens and map sheets, which are used to record the various statuses, add Loot and other objectives to the game, and create a variable board upon which encounters take place.
This is a top quality product, with high production values and some variable gameplay. The overall concept and rules seem to allow for many enjoyable hours of gaming, and the fact that the game play map can change each time a mission is played adds even more variety. A great product, which has a plethora of expansions that could make this one of those games which never really falls out of favour.