Where will you be when the end of days comes? While at Gen Con, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Eschaton, the new strategy deck-building game by Archon Games. In Eschaton, you take on the role of a cult leader, desperate doing everything you can to grow the power and influence of your organization before Armageddon, when the Dark One will rise. Please the Dark One and you will be allowed to rule at his side for the rest of time. Prove yourself unworthy of his favor and you’ll find yourself crushed beneath his feet.
At first, Eschaton plays like any other deck-builder. Each player starts with the same hand and plays their hand to to receive points in different attributes that can be used to recruit more cult members, gain powerful magic, fight enemies, and draw more cards. From there, Eschaton leaves other deck-building games in the dust. The cultist cards attributes allow for many different routes towards victory. Will you focus on strengthening your numbers or studying powerful dark magic? The choice is yours and one wrong could spell your death at the hands of your revered lord.
Eschaton fuses the deck-building genre with strategic area control. Your cult is only as powerful as the influence they have in the land. Players must balance building their deck and taking control of areas that add to Favor Points in the eyes of the Dark One. Move your army throughout the land and fight competing cults to take control of each area. Players with the largest army in each area gain the Favor. In the Dark One’s eyes, a tie means both cults are losers. Certain areas offer special buffs to the cult that controls them, so players are forced to balance building their deck and conquering the continent.
The length of a game is determined by a randomly shuffled deck that holds both Events and Omen cards. Each round, a card is drawn from this deck. Event cards are events that affect all players; Omen cards are demands from the Dark One which allow players to earn extra Favor Points and push themselves closer to victory. Favor Points are calculated and added after the Armageddon Omen card is pulled, which signifies the imminent coming of the Dark One and the end of the game.
I was able to play a demo game of Eschaton while at Gen Con and I fell in love. The fantastic, original art initially caught my attention and I knew I had to try my hand at the game. The rules are simple enough that we were able to quickly pick up the game, but it was the level of depth and strategy that kept the table enthralled. The game allowed a table of strangers to come together and have an incredible amount of very dark fun, while still being competitive enough to push us forward towards the end of the world. It’s easy to see how the Event and Omen cards keep the game interesting and force players to try new strategies each time they play. I’d recommend this game for both new and experience tabletop gamers, since it’s easy to learn, but requires quick critical thinking and requires you to guess what you opponents strategies are in order to counter them.
I can’t forget to mention that the game components are HAND-MADE. It just goes to to show the level of dedication and love that the team at Archon Games has poured into this project. I may be a bit biased, since there’s a special place in my heart for games with dark themes, but I think you if give it a try, you’ll fall in love too. Eschaton is currently in the middle of a successful kickstarter compaign, so check it out and pledge your allegiance to the Dark One now!
*Images courtesy of Archon Games