So if you know us well, we are always on the hunt for the best hidden gem games or Kickstarter projects. And honestly, I think we have found the best hidden gem out there so far. We found Forest of Radgost. This will be a cooperative storytelling gateway game with Slavic mythologies coming to Kickstarter soon (unless you are reading this later of course…). We received the full prototype of Forest of Radgost to form our opinion and playtest the game. Radgost in the Slavic mythology is the god of hospitality and fertility. In the forest of Radgost, he is also the protector of your village and the forest that surrounds it, as long as you don’t offend him… Note that the pictures and gameplay in this review are from the prototype. The finished product might have some different looks and or rules.
How to Play.
The game has quite a few components, but is actually pretty easy to set up. Place the board on the table and have the book of encounters at hand. Take all the creature tokens and put number 1,3,4,7,10 and 21 to the side. Place number nine and twelve faceup at the water crossroads and number eleven to one of the bridges or crossroads near the watermill. For the first game, shuffle numbers 1,3,4,7 and 10, and place them facedown on the indicated spaces in the rulebook, number 21 can be put aside for now. Shuffle the remaining tokens and place them randomly on the mainland crossroads on the map facedown. Place the children by the crashed boat on the map as indicated in the rulebook and choose your own character. If there are more then four players, one of the players can also choose to play the children. The other chosen characters can be placed on the roads leading out of the village, the not chosen characters will remain in the village and wait for your return. Place the dices on the table and the time counter, and place token number 21 on the sun of the time counter. Also take out all the different card decks, shuffle them and place them on the table. Lastly, take the group ability chart with some pens, and take your characters ability’s card, characters backpack, and the children’s ability card. You are now ready to explore the forest.
The main goal of the game is to retrieve the children and bring them back safely to the forest. They unfortunately fell asleep in a boat playing hide and seek, and found themselves waking up in a destroyed boat in the middle of the forest of Radgost. But Radgost is not the only creature lurking in this forest, the villagers only visit the forest for a highly pressing need if there is no other way. Before you leave the village, you quickly manage to take three items with you from the village. Take three cards per player (except for the children) from the yellow deck and place them in your bag, you have seven spaces available for cards from the yellow, white and red decks. Taking these items is optional. If you wish to have more space for your time in the forest, you can place these items back in the deck. On each yellow card, you will find a small explanation what you can use the item for. Like for Wraiths, wolves or to help you with certain ability’s. Some items you can use multiple times. Like bacon for example, the card shows that you can use this item eight times. Place a slider/tracker on the highest number and adjust it every time you use this item. Once every players has his items, you can place the yellow deck back in the box as they no longer will be used in the game.
There are three phases in the game. Day time, nightfall and night time. You will start your search during the day. Take a closer look at your character to find out what your ability’s are and how fast you can move. If your character moves between 1 – 10, take the dice with the matching numbers on it. On your turn, roll the dice together with the direction dice and take as many steps as the number die has indicated. The direction dice will decide where you will move to when you reach a crossroad. L stands for left, R for right, and F for free choice. If you don’t have to choose a direction because you only walk a straight road for example, the roll of the direction dice is not used. If you come across a creature token, stop moving and decide what you will do. If a creature token is facedown, you only feel that something is lurking, you just don’t know what. Now you have to decide if you will run, hide, fight or try to communicate with the creature. Don’t forget that all your characters ability’s together with the ability level can be found on your characters ability card, you might even have some items that improve those ability’s. With this information, choose the action you want to perform and then flip the token. Take the creature with the matching number. You are now face to face meeting with your fate and have to face the consequences of your decision. Take the book of encounters to find out what creature you face and find some more information about it. Then you can see the result of your decision. If your ability level is higher then the creatures level, your action was a success and you can read the corresponding paragraph explaining your fate, you may also place the token and creature on the time track. If your outcome is negative, the creature will remain in place, but faceup.
The next time you encounter this creature, you will at least know what the danger is. Creatures can lock your ability’s, meaning that you won’t be able to fight for one turn for example. Thankfully there are many items you can find that unlocks ability’s. You can also come across a token that is already face up, in this case, you know what the creature is and can at least read some information about it before you make your choice.
If you don’t come across a creature token, you may choose to explore the forest once you have moved your character. To do this, take a random white card and see what awaits you. Beware as not all that you find may be positive.
For every successful encounter, you will place a creature on the time track. All the spaces will slowly fill and the day will be over before you know it. When you reach the nightfall phase after seven successful encounters, all the creature tokens on the time track and the ones that are facedown on the board, will be shuffled and placed again on the board. The nightfall phase lasts only three successful encounters but the same rules as the day phase apply. Then comes the night phase. In the night phase, your characters will go to sleep and they won’t move. But the creatures from the forest will. Turn every creature token on the board face up and place the creatures. Each player throws a 1 to 20 die to see what number of creature they get. If you know what creature to move, throw the 1 to 10 dice to see how many steps it will take along with the direction dice. Then move the creature accordingly. If the creature comes across one of the characters, an encounter will take place. In the night, there are no locked ability’s. However, your character can only hide or fight. A creature can also come across another creature. When this happens, they will start fighting. The creature that will be overpowered in this case, can be placed on the time track. If the night phase ends after four successful encounters, remove all the tokens from the time track, shuffle them and place them again in the same way on the board as explained in the set up. A new day begins.
If you find the children, you must form a group. You can also choose to do this if you come across another player or companion. The abilities from the group are calculated differently. Take the group ability sheets to calculate what level the group abilities are and what the new movement will be.
If during the game you lose your bag, during an unsuccessful encounter with a creature for example, place a personal lost bag token on the spot where the bag is lost and put aside your bag with all the items. You can later retrieve it by walking to it. Other players can also interact with it and take something from the bag or place something in it.
When the children return safely to the village, either on their own (if played by another player), or in a group with another character, the game ends. If there are still characters in the forest, the village will blow a horn in which case the characters will know that the children are found and they can return to the village. You can then roll the die without the direction die.
Lastly there are personal missions. Every character has their own story and personal mission. To get to know them better, you can play from the start of the game with your character’s personal mission. But beware, you will be tested and it won’t be easy. If you are playing your first game, we recommend to play without personal missions to get to know the game better. Once you’ve mastered the rules, you might feel ready for some extra challenge. If you are on the quest for your personal mission, you can choose to go back into the forest or remain in the forest with it’s many dangers to fulfill your fate and figure out who you really are.
Playtrough of the game.
This game is giving you the feeling like you are walking in the haunted forest yourself. You know there are creatures watching you. Are they good? Surely not all of them. All you know is that for sure is that you need to find the children and get out. And honestly with our first game, it was going pretty well. We didn’t play with the children since we had our own characters, so they stayed put and waited for us to come and get them. We had three successful encounters where we chose the right action or had items who helped us and we were getting closer to the children. Piece of cake. Until we came across some creatures who didn’t like to communicate with humans very much… Tomasz lost all of the items in his bag and we decided to change strategy and try to find each other to form a group. Biggest. Mistake. Ever. By trying to reach each other, (the direction dice wasn’t in our favor either…) while being on the other side of the map. We came across more encounters which caused nightfall. And then came the night. Not only did we not reach each other yet, we also didn’t came close to the children and now we were in the forest of Radgost, in the night, and we couldn’t move. You could feel the tension as the creatures around us were moving and fighting each other. Thankfully we survived and rescued the children the next day. But we certainly underestimated this adventure.
The creators put so much love and attention to this game and they have been developing Forest of Radgost for about six years now. All these years perfecting and molding it until the idea was ready to produced. They really tried to think about everything and it shows. For us, the story and background of the characters really fit and is well thought trough. The creatures are all handpicked from the Slavic mythology and the encounters book has a lot of detailed information about what exactly you are facing. The game also has amazing art and detailed miniatures to play with. The gameplay itself is very different then any game we have tried before and the rules are surprisingly simple once you know what to do. It is an easy teachable game for people who don’t play many board games but it’s challenging enough for people who play board games a lot. There is also a lot of replayability. The game will be different every time since you shuffle the creature tokens and place them face down. The personal missions are also very challenging and it took us multiple tries and a little luck to progress a mission with only one character. Forest of Radgost is a semi open world because of them and all the exploration cards that are added to the game.
The Forest of Radgost is an outstanding storytelling cooperative gateway game that is also challenging enough for people who are familiar with board games. It has amazing components, art and is well thought trough. The game has a lot of replayability and good written stories. We are so happy we found this hidden gem and can’t get enough of it. Like I said before, this is only a prototype and the final product may look or work a little different. But for a prototype like this, we can’t wait to see the final product. Big props to Ivan, Aleksandra and Dimitri for perfecting this game in six years and making an idea to this amazing product.