It’s only been 60 years. The elders still remember it happening. The “uncivilized” tribes were banding together, led by someone or something calling itself “The Darkness.” Humanity was being pushed back further and further. In order to defend against this seemingly never-ending onslaught, every effort went towards defeating this nemesis. To do so, the greatest smiths and enchanters in the land were called together. They created weapons of immense power. These weapons were given to the greatest warriors. These new Lightbringers, as they were called, were the chosen ones who would save humanity. And it worked. The Darkness and its forces were beaten, crushed, and destroyed, seemingly forever. Seemingly. The weapons and artifacts of the Lightbringers were scattered, a grim reminder of humanity’s darkest time. If only they were still right at-hand, for the Darkness is returning. In the deep, shadowy places, its Agents are gathering strength. A new generation of heroes must seek out the artifacts and once more make the world safe for humanity.
Massive Darkness is the new dungeon crawling, adventure board game from CMON and Guillotine Games. Players work cooperatively to defeat the forces of the Darkness. They take on the role of heroes, equip them with weapons, and head into the shadowy places of the world to root out this new breed of evil. Massive Darkness is scenario-based, each one having unique win conditions and posing different challenges to the players. The game is designed to be highly modular, so even with multiple play throughs, players can greatly alter the details of the game. Heroes, for example, do not have a specific class. Players can match any hero with any class. So, while a hero may have a proclivity to be a certain class, it is up to the player to determine which one they will be. For example, mighty Bjorn might end up as a front-line Pit Fighter Barbarian, a nimble and sneaky Bloodmoon Nightrunner, or a magic-wielding Battle Wizard. While adventuring, heroes will gain Experience that will let them level up, granting them new abilities. Each class has different ability tracks, so every time a player uses one, they have the chance to go in different directions with their character.
As monsters are slain and rooms are explored, heroes will find gear that is drawn from the different treasure decks, again changing up what happens each time a game is played. To keep track of a character’s progression, players use the plastic dashboards. It has a space for their character sheet, plastic pegs to track acquired experience, and spaces for their character’s gear. That way, players always know what skills they have at their disposal, how long it is until they level up, and what sort of weapons and armor they have equipped.
Enemies are also modular. Certain scenarios might call for a specific one, but overall, any of the different enemy types can be used. On one pass through the scenario, players might face off against goblins, while on the next, they could choose to take on orcs. A random roaming monster could be a giant spider, or end up being a vicious hellhound. Monsters are controlled by a simple set of AI rules. Combat is resolved with a single roll of the customized dice. Players count up the number of the two different attack dice to be used, as well as the two types of defense dice, and roll all of them together. Special abilities can be triggered when unique symbols are rolled. This keeps the game moving along, so play isn’t bogged down in lengthy combat sequences.
The heroes are most likely going to find themselves outnumbered on the battlefield. A straight frontal assault of the enemy forces can often end in defeat for these stalwart defenders of civilization. In order to tilt the odds in their favor, players have to make strategic use of the shaded areas of the map. On each tile, there are areas designated as Shadow Zones. When in one of these spaces, heroes go into Shadow Mode. This represents them lurking in the darkness, looking for an opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting enemies. While in Shadow Zones, the heroes aren’t counted for line of sight or attack purposes by most monsters. A wandering patrol of orcs might simply pass right on by. Then, when the patrol has made its way out of sight, the heroes can continue on with their journey, or mount sneak-attacks. While in Shadow Mode, each hero will gain a special benefit, and certain equipment will also get better when utilized from the dark. It’s time to fight the Darkness from the darkness.
The Darkness is resolute. It has suffered bitter defeat once, and it does not want that to happen again. In order for the light to triumph, the heroes must seek out the lost artifacts, hone their skills, and use a bit of stealth. Will civilization stand at the end? That’s up for the heroes to decide.
Look for Massive Darkness in your FLGS on September 29.
Learn more about Massive Darkness here.
This article first appeared in GTM Magazine. Learn more here.