The Dark Crystal Board Game - Some Thoughts

So I got the Dark Crystal Board game a few weeks ago for my Birthday.  I love the Dark Crystal and I am very excited for the new Netflix series as well.  Because of this I bought the game. 

So first this is all my opinion, so take this all with a grain of salt.  First we setup the game (my youngest daughter).

So we started; the key part to setting up the game is burying the Augruh's Observatory card in the world deck.  This is a card based world generator, but when the Observatory comes out its the start of the end game.   There is also a turn counter to the great conjunction, starts at 19 for a normal game.   So the Gelflings have 19 turns to find the observatory, get the shard of the Dark Crystal, invade the castle fight a bunch of Skeksis and heal the crystal.  

Play is move to a space, add a card from the world deck, then roll skill challenges.  Each character card has 3 skills, a set number of Willpower and a special power they can use once.  Gelflings and Skeksis move around the board expanding the world with placing new cards on each blank space.  Cards have a challenge, like climbing cliffs, against a skill.  You roll your skill die (d4 -d12) versus a die set by the card.  So the game is basically rolling to move, overcoming skill challenges. You can spend a will power (hits) to gain a D20.  You can also group together and help each other. The problem is the gelfilings need to get as many cards as they can out as fast as they can so grouping works against them.  Then there are the ancient ones, who can aid the characters with a bonus card; if they go back to the old ones home for a turn. Again making it harder for the gelflings to get to get cards out, while giving the skeksis

Meanwhile the Skeksis are trying to get the Gelflings and slow then down so they don't find the observatory and the shard in time.  But the Gelflings have 0 (and I mean zero control) over when they find the observatory and can even start the end game.  Its basically a hopeless game of find the card, with almost no time for the good guys.  Thats supposed to add tension, it just adds frustration.
My daughter lost, then won (we made some changes and tried them an she won that time).  So it had flashes of fun, but lots of repetition and no real choices that change the game or get you to the end game.

So we were disappointed, the observatory card as the second to last card, and I slowed her down just enough to win.  I did not do anything on purpose I was just trying to catch the gelflings.  So we came up with with the following changes.

Character Powers

Jen new powers

Connect to the Ancient ones for help from the board (no healing) costs a Will

Stop Short or pass a board space for 1 will Power

Move directly to the Observatory (start of turn only) Costs a Will

Kyra new powers

Move directly to Jen from anywhere board, forms a group (at any time) costs 2 Will

Stop Short or pass a board space for 1 will Power

remove/discard any one card from the board (start of turn only) Costs a Will

Emperor new powers

Remove a Will from the board space they are on (costs them their turn)

Use a Garthim from the Castle.  Emperor stays in Castle and moves a Garthim from the castle as their Proxy.  The Emperor can use their regular abilities through the Garthim or the Emperor can remove the card the Garthim is on from the board for 2 will.

Emperor in the castle can add themself to any end game challenge to stop the Gelflings.

Exile new powers

Move directly to a card a Gelfling is on (start of turn only) Costs a Will

Remove a Will from a space (costs their Turn)

Rules Changes

--- Augrahs Observatory is held by the Jen/Gelfling player(s).  It can only be placed on the board when the Gelflings have Placed 3 Will on a Space.  The Placement happens the Turn after a space has 3 Will and no gelfling can be on the space

--- Gelflings hold world cards in ahand.  If there is one player they get 3.  2 Gelfling Players get 2 each.  When a Card is to be played to the board it comes from the Gelfiling Players who turn it is.  

---- Each Gelfiling can drop a will at any location they are on, after they finish the spaces challenge.  Placing the Observatory happens after there are no Gelflings on a space with 3 will.  It is possible to drop 2 in one turn.

-- Gelfling dice explode (roll a 6 on a d6 roll again)

-- Once the Observatory is placed and the Gelflings meet the conditions of that card End Game starts.

-- Will rewards.  Winning any challenge gains the winner a Will back, grouped characters must choose who gets the awarded will.

Waylaid Gelflings lose all their cards (discard to the bottom of the world deck), grouped Gelfings roll a d8 and move away from each other. OInce that move is complete they must resolve any cards their.  Any will power on the space they are waylaid is also lost.  Captured Gelflings cannot use any powers until they escape.

Skeksis always draw opposition cards, even if they use a power that ends their turn.

The goal of these changes

What I am doing with these changes is giving the players choices that influence the outcome of the game and more closely match the movie.  The Emperor can now move to the castle and still send Garthim out to impede the Gelflings.  The Gelflings can group up when they need, and spend will to get show the risks they are taking to get to the observatory.  
I have thought about other changes to the skills system and such, but it gets too complicated.  I want it to stay a simple game, but players get choices and create stories.

The Chamberlain (exiled) Waylays the Gelflings at the Podling Village and now Jen an Kyra are seperated, Jen moves to he Cliffs and Kyra to a Blank where she places a card.  The 2 Will on the space they were on drops to 1.  On the emperors turn he sends a Proxy Garthim to the Cliffs to get Jen.  Kyra spends 2 will and joins jen at the cliffs cause he only has 1 will left.  They work together defeat the Garthim and drop 1 Will.  The space has 2 will now, they are close to the observatory and ending the Skeksis rule.

Now will the chamberlan spend a will to move to a spot and remove a Will next turn?  Will the emperor leave the castle? Send another proxy out? Will Jen try to get back to the location with 2 Will, or pick a second location?  or even return to the ancients for healing or help.  Will Kyria explore the world and remove threats or also try to move back and get 3 will on the table. 

Choices abound and each one will change the game.  I hope to try this this weekend and will let you know if works as well as it did the first time, when we free formed it.

So Thanx for reading .. Have Dark Crystal gives these rules a try.