The Legends of Novus from FunDaMental Games is one of those strange games where the theme, the promise of adventure, and the components make you fear that you’re about to be embroiled in a quest with the complexity of Mage Knight proportions.
It talks a big game here, there are counters and decks of cards, a map with various locations to visit, and actions that will take you exploring or battling or finding equipment to help level up your character and complete your quest.
It all looks like there’s going to be a need to watch playthrough videos. You’re going to have to bring in the Rodney or the Rahdo to help you figure things out.
You might possibly end up putting it to one side and playing Scythe instead. It’s potentially that kind of a game, where you feel like the brain is going to be burning after 10 minutes of decisions. There will be analysis paralysis and tears. Swearing at your own ineptitude and all to the sound of a constant flickering rule book.
But. It’s not really that kind of game. It’s more like the kind of game where someone looked at Mage Knight, thought ‘aye right soldier..’ and decided to take a much more simple route. Maybe it’s actually meant to be called Legends of Novice instead. Maybe I just noticed that and decided to see if I could write it into this First Thoughts piece? Who knows..?
The main rules and actions for LoN are on two pages of the rule book. You can pretty much play the main game by just following that and avoid any kind of brain burning. Game play itself is very straightforward. You have a hero, you have a huge character sheet that has spaces on it to add in equipment cards. As you gain equipment, you’ll place them on the sheet in a grid formation that represents yourself. You also have spaces for skills as well. As you gain skills, you’ll add them to the skills section of the sheet. Interestingly, you might also gain some curses as well which can also take the spaces for your skills. So curses can effect your abilities as you travel, and you can change in new skills as you grow and learn, thus increasing you chances of survival.
It’s a fairly neat take on allowing to to keep a track of everything you have to work with. No need to tuck cards away, or forget the skills you have access to in your hand, it’s all there in front of you to remember and utilise. It adds considerable size to the playing area you’ll need on the table in a four player game, but it also add to the overall epic-ness of what you are faced with.
The aim of the game is straightforward, gain 25 experience points, kick the butts of a couple of the really big monsters and take part in the some of the quests in order to be known as the Legend of Novus. To do this, you’ll need to travel around the map exploring areas and facing toe to toe with some bad guys, collecting equipment and even level up to a more advanced state of yourself. It’s all straightforward when things are going well, but even when things aren’t going your way, you’ll never be terribly punished, you’ll never die, but you’ll maybe lose equipment and gold. In many ways Novus wants to be EPIC but keep things simple, almost as if it want to be the game that you can set up and play and learn within the first 30 minutes of opening the box.
It’s also fun, and not very taxing on the brain but has a large enough character roster with differing skill sets to make you want to take a couple of trips around the island of Novus before you might want to go anywhere else. The only thing that troubles me is the reliance of randomness in order to decide the progress of your journey, and at some points rolling badly means some frustration or some delay on where you want to go. This might be enough to put some people off entirely but it’s worth persevering with, as it’s more about slowing you down than pushing you back, and no situation will ever signal a game over.
At the beginning you might find yourself running away from fights more than you’ll find going toe to toe, but by the time your into the flow of your game, and have your armour and equipment to a high enough level, most of the enemies should fall to the wayside in your quest to become a Legend of Novus.
Wesley should be proud of what he has brought to the table, and if you are wanting something chewy instead of something crunchy, then Legends of Novus is certainly worthwhile checking out.
We were provided with a prototype copy of the game that may differ from the final project. We’d like to thank Wes for sending us the copy to play through.
Legends of Novus is on Kickstarter here