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Legends of Novus: A Quest for Fame and Maybe A Little Fortune?

Legends of Novus Box

Legends of Novus Box Art
(image from Board Game Geek, uploaded by KaerthLord)

FunDaMental Games designer Wesley Woodbury and a team of artists have come together to create a new, stunning fantasy board game set in the fictional world of Novus. The game, Legends of Novus, is playable for 1-5 players and features several different game modes for players to choose from as they explore the continent and try to earn renown (solo, co-op, team play, and, of course, normal mode). Meant to give the impression of a role-playing campaign condensed down into a 45-90 minute experience, this game will take players to many locations spanning its continent including cities, forests, lakes, deserts, jungles, and even tundra! As of this review, the game is currently live on Kickstarter.com and is slated to be a Kickstarter only release at this time.

Vinn, Shadow of Drakkar

A close up of the prototype version of Vinn, the Thief character in Legends of Novus
(All photos of FunDaMentalGames product were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise specified)

I want to start out by saying that what makes this game so different and appealing to me, other than the artwork, is the characters/character classes. Just looking over the character sheets and reading the special abilities, one can tell that a lot of thought went into them and it is easily apparent that each one has a very different play style. For example, a rogue/thief is typically not meant to be “tanky” or much of a fighter so a potential strategy to use with the basic Thief (Vinn) would be to use their special ability and simply buy the XP needed to move up to an Advanced Class instead of earning XP through combat encounters. This potential strategy is the opposite of almost all of the other basic classes, which are a little more combat oriented. The Druid (Beric), in this instance, is a straight up beast (no pun intended) in a fight even without a lot of gear thanks to his potential pets, bonuses, and speed. This kind of attention to detail already sets the game apart from a lot of the ones that I’ve played lately where there’s character selection and is not an actual campaign game.

Kzmatic the Lich Lord

Kzmatic, the Lich Lord is one of the Quest Creatures that can be found in Kzmatic’s Keep

The artwork, as I’ve said numerous times, is also a huge attention grabber. Based on the art on the Legend of Novus website alone, I was intrigued enough to want to try it out. As the copy of the game I used for this review is a prototype, there is a large chance that portions of it will change as the Kickstarter campaign progresses and eventually comes to a close, but the art that was included there is also beautiful and gives a real feel for the fantastic beasts and exotic locations that players can encounter. Many of these creatures are ones that I wouldn’t want to come across in a dark alley and not just because of their stats, but because of how realistic some of these illustrations are! The artwork in the prototype was provided by Andrea Butera, Nicula Mircea, Istvan Straban, and Boris Torano.

Setting up a game of Legends of Novus first and foremost requires a rather large play space – and not just for the map. The character boards are currently rather large in size, there’s a location reference guide that is its own book and will need to be within easy reach at all times, and there are multiple decks of cards with their own discard pile. However, don’t let this be a deterrent from playing the game if you can find the space! Personally, we found ways to make it work for a 1 or 2-player game on a basic card table and went to play at our FLGS for games with larger player counts. The first actual step in setting up the game is starting with the board. The map will need to be positioned in the middle of the play space within easy view and reach of all players. Once each player has chosen 1 of the 5 classes (Thief, Priestess, Druid, Wizard, and Knight), they will receive their corresponding character board, dice, colored cube markers, character standee, and 10 gold pieces. The character standees are all placed on Vey City as the starting point for each player’s journey. Next to the map, each of the 3 decks (Adventure, Reward, and Basic Creature) should be shuffled into their own respective face-down pile with room for a discard pile. The Ally cards, Quest Creatures, Location Guidebook, coins, and Advanced Class cards should also be placed near the board. Each player receives 1 Reward cards and 1 Encounter card for their starting hand. The starting player is chosen at random by the players and then the game is ready to be played.

Legends of Novus Advanced Classes

Examples of Advanced Classes that can be chosen for your characters as they level up. My favorite is the Aggressive Assassin!

Legends of Novus is almost two different games rolled into one so it’s a little hard to describe gameplay without simply copy and pasting the rulebook. What I mean by this is that while there’s a lot of travel and combat going on on the game board, there is also a more subtle game going on on the character boards as players actually create their characters. During the game, players have the chance to improve their characters through gear, items, skills, and enchantments, but beware getting cursed! Once a player hits 10 XP they also get to choose an “Advanced Class” for themselves, replacing their starting abilities and stats. There is more than one Advanced Class option available for each character, which adds a lot of additional options for character building. Otherwise, the game is played through multiple rounds where each player gets to choose if they are going to Travel the map or Explore their current location (a player can not do both on the same turn). Unless otherwise stated, a character can only Travel 2 spaces per turn. While traveling, a player rolls the “Travel Die” and resolves it for each visited location on the map. Different locations will have an effect that triggers either when entering, leaving, or exploring that location. Exploring a location will allow a player to draw an Adventure card. If that card is not a monster, then the player will get to draw either a Reward card or another Adventure card for their hand. If it is a monster, they must enter combat via dice rolls as explained on the card as not all monsters are dealt with the same way. Killing monsters is one of several ways to earn XP. In addition to the Basic Creatures, there are also boss monsters or “Quest Creatures” to kill, which not only grant greater amounts of XP but also grant additional bonuses to their locations once they are defeated. The first player to reach 25 XP is declared the winner and also earns the title of Legend of Novus.

Before going too far into my opinion, I want to point out that there is somewhat of a learning curve or two to the game. It takes a few “learning games” to get a feel for the many options available during gameplay such as strategies, building a character towards a desired Advanced Class, and understanding the locations and their benefits. Overall, I feel Legends of Novus is a game that will appeal to many different types of gamers due to everything it has to offer. I like that players can go on a laid back jaunt from city to city or can choose to travel to distant lands to try and conquer larger foes while earning XP and making a name for themselves with either option. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes from the prototype to the final product and am excited to follow along as part of the campaign. Although there are no current plans for Legends of Novus to hit retail I feel those that are interested in the genre should definitely give the Kickstarter campaign a look!

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