1st Impressions of Soul Raiders from One For All by Joel wright

Here are my first impressions of Soul Raiders ⚔️ from One For All, which is on Kickstarter now and has about 48 hours left to back. Ending Friday, August 6. 

I have been sent a limited component prototype copy of Soul Raiders by the company for review purposes.  

Soul Raiders is an action-packed and challenging adventure game, with an elegant and streamlined design, created by bestselling author Marc André (Splendor). Supported by a team of talented artists, such as Guillaume Tavernier (De Architecturart) and Magali Villeneuve (Magic The Gathering), he spent many years to develop a game system of EPIC proportions!

From the Kickstarter page

Soul Riders is a co-op adventure game for 1 – 4 players

I am only writing this now not because I just received the prototype but because I am a bad person. It is late because when asked if I would like to review the upcoming game. It was lockdown in the UK and I was imagining life not changing much when I would eventually receive the game in a few month’s time. Oh, how I was wrong. Work, Family, Work, moving house, work, and now I am on holiday in Cyprus, when I received a polite reminder from a member of the All For One team, asking if I had done anything towards their game? Whoops, my bad, so this is me trying to right a wrong in the best available way I can.   

I am not saying that I have not done anything with the product. I was excited to receive it and when I opened it, WOW, if this was a prototype what is the real thing going to be like. Then I started to look at the rule book; I could already see a daunting task of getting the rules read, then played and content created with everything else going on around me. I did get straight to work on it and I was reading the rules while eating and in between working, the rules seemed heavy at first; there is a lot going on and I was expecting this to be a heavy game, and there is a lot of symbology, on the locations cards and enemies and everything. But, from my experimental play (a dry run to get the gameplay down) it is a very simple gaming experience, and one person might just need to follow the rules at first to get the symbols right until they become second nature. 

Source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/one4all/soul-raiders

Soul Riders is a co-op adventure game for 1 – 4 players, the idea is you are responsible for this world and protecting it from monsters and the bad things going on, along with completing your missions before the game defects your party. This game feels like an open-world sandbox game very much like 7th Continent, but with more control over your exploring and less card searching looking like you are some kind of librarian in the 1900s. There are card locations and there are a good few of them but they are massive cards with lots of detail and good clear icons on them. And the bonus on all location cards is that they have an A and B side, the B side needs to be flipped/unlocked in numerous ways: complete an action, having a story card in hand, or just returning to the location at a later time, etc. Basically, Soul Raider’s world will change around you as you play. 

Source: Boardgamegeek.com, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/6226364/soul-raiders, Fredrik Schulz

I say the gameplay is simple, each player has a deck of 24 cards. All cards have a number, an icon, and text, most of them. The number is like a skill check value that can be used for any action, there are 3 icons on the cards: moving, fighting and magic and the text on the card normally relates to the icon. As I said the number can be used toward any action and you will be able to do other actions other than the ones mentioned. For example, like playing RPG, you are at a location and there is a tall tower and it allows you to take a perception skill check to see what it holds and might help or hinder you, say the SC requires 4 to complete, so all I have to do is play a card or cards that total 4 or more to do this, Simple. If I wanted to move location I just need to match or better the required skill check number and I can do this with only number valves on the cards and if I play cards with the movement icon then the text below will improve my movement valve. The same happens with fighting monsters, I have to beat their defense valve, sometimes they take a few hits but that is all. (They attack at the end of the round or sometimes when they enter the game.) Magic is different; you just use the cards for the number value or you can use the magic spell text, but not both at the same time. 

At the beginning of the round, each player draws up a hand of cards depending on their health and story progression. These cards are your actions for the round, if you are able to draw 4 cards at the beginning of the round then you can have 4 actions, playing each card is an action. But, you might need to play multiple cards and so reducing the number of actions you have for the round, also players can take turns in whatever order they want, which is great and more like a team game to me. You can swap in and out of taking turns until you run out of actions or you can just stop and save up to 3 cards in a reserve next to your player board. so, if you draw a good card at the wrong time it is not a bad thing if you are willing to forgo an action in that round to save for later, it’s a nice touch to controlling your gameplay and experience. 

Source: Boardgamegeek.com, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/6226367/soul-raiders, Fredrik Schulz

Each character is asymmetrical with their basic set of 24 cards and their player board has a couple of skill check bonuses that boost for certain actions. But also you can develop your characters card deck by gaining special heroic cards (12) designed for the character only. These can be bought with experience tokens that you gain from defeating enemies or completing missions. So it is a bit of deck construction similar to Gloomhaven, but these cards get added in mid-game. 

I only received an introductory story chapter and I have only scratched the surface when I was doing my trial run. There is so much to this, I am actually looking forward to playing this with Claire when we get home to see the full story unfold.  Also, I only got 2 out of the 4 characters and they only came with 4 special cards each so there is more to see when the full version is done. Plus there are story-guided locations, monsters, and more, that with this kind of taster has me hooked to discover more. And with the Kickstarter already underway and funding has exceeded its goal,  more content has been added, and of course, there is the deluxe version you upgrade to where it is more autistic than gameplay, with the exception of a 5th character been unlocked and can purchase separately or get free if you back the deluxe pledge. 

Source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/one4all/soul-raiders

The artwork is gorgeous, to say the least from the locations card the characters themselves give you a real feeling of immersion to the game. If you like the Gloomhaven feel of a unique world and card gameplay but having the feel of an RPG story and location exploring then this might be up your path (if you have the skill check of 6). I seem to have written a lot about a game I barely played, that is because of what I have seen for myself, and on Kickstarter, there is a lot of passion gone into this beauty, and writing this has given me huge regret that I have played fully. I can tell you this when I do get home I will be playing it, I can’t wait now.