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+ Immersion and narration above all
Let’s start with the strongest point of the game, its immersion, and narration. Solomon Kane is entirely based on the works of Robert E. Howard, and it shows, and feels. Construction of sentences, attention to every word, brilliant, very natural dialogues between characters, supernatural, yet still believable situations, stimulating descriptions, and sudden turnovers. This game has everything and more we expect when it comes to a story and narration in board games. The atmosphere created by the game is so immersive, and engaging not only because of the awesome texts, but also thanks to all of the components creating one big, cohesive, addictive world of Solomon Kane.
+ Something you have never played before
Mechanics here are very different from what we get used to, and a rulebook, with some confusing fragments, will not make it easier for you to get into the game. It’s even highly possible that during your first session some things will not have much sense for you, and you will not feel gameplay within Solomon Kane at all. But this game shines when you get all of the rules properly, and the devil is hidden in nuances here.
The unorthodox approach results in the fact, that not only do you have one hero on board despite the number of players, but you also do not manage Solomon directly. Instead of this, you will use Virtues, angel beings who can not intervene in Solomon Kane’s life too directly but can slightly inspire him to do certain actions. Saying this we have Justice, lightening Solom’s journey and allowing him to talk to others. We have Courage, helping Sholom fight, keep the darkness in the bay, and inspire other virtues. We have Temperance easing exploration, and Prudence working closely with other virtues helping them to exceed their abilities. This whole idea of Virtues influencing, and motivating Solo represents battle in Kane’s mind, and also because of this, the pace of the game is slow. After playing dozens of fast-paced classic crawlers it’s hard at the beginning to appreciate how Solom Kane often focuses just on a few seconds of his life. One chapter is entirely based on just one conversation with another character, but the way you can guide this conversation, and all of the glimpses and moments deciding about your life are written, and designed magically.
Another thing, we were not fans of in the first place, are chapters named stories, where your only task is to accumulate enough light to lighten Solomon Kane’s path. Firstly, the connotation was annoying slumbers from Etherfields, but after several stories, we get their purpose. Besides adding other pages to the plot, they serve as midpoints between scene chapters with miniatures and stuff. Midpoint during you should awarely decide, if you prefer to loos them on purpose, to strengthen your Virtues for the upcoming challenges, or try to lighten the path as much as possible to get as many bonuses you can get.
To summarize, at the beginning we felt a bit repulsive towards some mechanics, but after understanding all rules properly, and using all the nuances the game has to offer, we truly enjoy every mechanic within the game. Their different, and they all work great, not only separately, but they are cleverly connected.
But I want to address my one concern. As we said during the intro, we only finished 2 campaigns so far, and we do not know if developers have managed to stay creative with every book and chapter. So far they kept us insanely engaged keeping us in the illusion of Solomon’s Kane world the whole time. Let’s hope the next scenarios will be diverse enough to support orthodox, slow pace gameplay and mechanics.
+/- Subtle Virtue development hard to appreciate at the beginning
In the beginning, I was complaining a lot about lack of the development, you don’t upgrade the cards of your Virtues, you do not collect items. But after losing the first campaign 3 times in a row I realized the power of each skill Vurite has and the fact that even the smallest handicap can save your life. Classic development has been replaced by donating, and reserving dices, getting luck and mercy cubes, acquiring blessings, making often sacrifices, and boosting your Virtues with light. This approach is different but it works and makes Solomon Kane standing out from the crowd once again.
+ Minis are jawdropping
Minis here are so good that I have true goosebumps during the unboxing. Attention to details, all those ornaments, fabrics, accessories, even bases, are so well done that I am surprised mythic games put so much effort into this. Of course the most magnificent are Virtues, but each humanoid within the game, together with Salomon Kane, is outstanding. Not mentioning another version of Solomon, where he and other guys ride horses and hold lanterns at the same time.
The rest of the components are grand as well, and the only things I would correct are quite dull colors on the terrain board together with those clumsy outlines. Because of the color, it is hard to appreciate how detailed and climatic boards are, and sometimes those outlines, especially the red ones, look like just clicked and highlighted elements in a video RPG game.
+/- Replayability is typical for story-driven games
It’s hard to expect high replayability from story-driven games. To be honest, we even prefer such games to be one-shot only. With so many titles on the market we simply want an awesome, long experience, and then move on to the next games. So low replayability is something we expected with Solomon Kane and it’s not a con for us. But what bothers us is the fact that on many occasions scenarios’ outcomes are almost the same, with the same text and story. For example, no matter if you succeed or fail in the first chapter of the Rattling Bones campaign, the outcomes will be identical, with the difference of some small boost for the next chapter. This is very common practice here, and it’s shame the outcome has not different texts, cause reading them is a pure pleasure.
Also, some extra mode, where you can use all minis and components in some skirmish, or sandbox mode, would be nice. We know Solomon Kane is entirely not about such things, but still, the lack of possibility to use all those amazing minis in some free play mode is a waste.
+/- Best with 2 players and solo
The game seems to work best with both solo and two players at the table. Solo players are going to be very spoiled with several options on how you can play the game. You can use all four Virtues actively, you can use only a few or one of them actively, and the rest have in the reserve. And up to this your get one extra Virtue designed solely for solo mode. Providence combines powers of the other four virtues into one, and although she seems very overpowered because of that, you gonna find yourself in situations when having only one virtue, no matter how strong, is very challenging.
Playing in the duo is fun as well. Unfortuaneltly you can’t use Providence now, but what you get is another person at the table which whom you can experience the whole story, discuss choices, plan your movements together, and interact with each other A LOT. Salomon Kane requires plenty of interaction between players, and without very smooth cooperation and a lot of talking above the table, you can easily fail the whole scenario. If your gaming group is not the best in collaborating and thinking as the collective, or one of the players has the player alpha syndrome, you could find Solomon Kane far less engaging.
Summary & Scoring
You gonna fall in love with this game, or you gonna pass it after the first approach. The game is so unique it’s simply hard to remain indifferent to it. As you might have guessed from this review, we fall for Salomon Kane completely, and it is already in our top games, which are super immersive in the first place. Even if Solomon Kane is the king in its narrow category of strongly story-driven board gamers, we are not blind to some flaws, which could be avoided with some extra effort. Saying this we score Solomon Kane for 8.5 scratches on 10 possible. If you are mad about story-driven games with super-strong narration and atmosphere, watch some gameplays online. If you find mechanics and specific pace o the game sufficient, or even interesting, Solom Kane should be something you gonna love too. That’s all for today, see you at the next game, and do not forget to subscribe to our channel.
4.5/5 (David) + 4/5 (Greg) = 8.5/10 scratches