I had the good fortune to try an early version of Skulk Hollow, an upcoming board game from Pencil First Games.
The game appealed to me immediately because I am a huge fan of “one big thing vs. many little things” games. In Skulk Hollow, one player takes the role of the Foxlings: fox people who populate the world; while the other player takes control of a massive Guardian who is bent on destroying the Foxlings entirely!
The player taking the role of the versatile (and adorable) Foxlings uses a deck of cards filled with actions, tricks and units. It is that player’s goal to destroy or otherwise disable the Guardian by damaging all of its vital locations. While the deck does have some archers, which can shoot at the massive creature from a distance, the most common method of attacking the Guardian involves mounting the beast itself!
Against the Guardian pictures to the right (Grak), for example, the Foxlings must mount his leg and then, by playing Move cards, climb up to his right shoulder and eventually his head and left arm. In each location, playing an attack card allows the Foxlings to cause damage to that specific part of the Guardian. The hearts indicate how much damage a specific part can take, and although the player must mark off every heart in order to destroy the Guardian, disabling each specific location (by dealing damage equal to its hearts) prevents the Guardian player from using the corresponding action.
The Foxling player will always use the same deck of cards in each game, but can achieve tactical variety by selecting from a number of different Leader cards.
While the Foxling player races to play as many troops as possible and spread resources among them, the Guardian player will take control of a massive, nigh-unstoppable construct and focus on the sheer power of destruction. The Guardian player plays less actions than the Foxling player, but the former’s actions are generally more powerful. And, as the Guardian is not defeated until every single heart on its board has been damaged, its player often has the luxury of time.
Grak, for example, wants to defeat eight Foxlings. He can crush them with his stone hammer if they get too close, or disintegrate them from an adjacent square with his deadly gaze (a tactic I employed often in the game I played). And if the Foxlings do manage to mount him, he can use the Throw action to toss them away, giving him time to re-position or repair. But remember that unlike the Foxlings, the Guardian’s actions can be disabled if they manage to deal enough damage to the corresponding part!
At the demo, there were four available Guardians to play, each with slightly different actions and goals (and some awesome wooden pieces for each as well). I had the joy of playing Grak and stomping (well, mostly Gaze-ing) the Foxlings into oblivion.
Skulk Hollow is a barrel of fun. I certainly enjoyed my game, and I would love to play the Foxlings or try out different Guardians. There are amazing tactical decisions to be made on both sides, and the variety should keep it fresh for many plays. There was also talk of potentially releasing new decks of peoples to fight against the Guardians, but nothing concrete yet. Last I heard, the game is supposed to launch to Kickstarter in either September or October.
Designed by Keith Matejka and developed by Edo Baraf of Pencil First Games, this is a title I highly recommend you keep on your radar.
You can find out more (and sign up for a Kickstarter launch notification) on the Skulk Hollow website.