In my experience almost all things that start with ‘chronicles’ end up being a good experience. Think about Chronicles of Narnia, the Chronicles of Crime series or the Chronicles of Riddick to show only a couple of examples. Looking at the box of the Chronicles of Avel, this game looks like it could have potential. The introduction story ‘Dawn of the Black Moon’ definitely places you in the right mood and tells you about a great beast that will rise once the Black Moon comes close to Avel. If you don’t stop the beast, he and it’s minions will take over Avel and the world will fall to evil. Ready to be a hero and save the world?
How to play.
Place the moon track on the table and place the starting tiles faceup as shown in the rulebook. Take all tiles that are not marked with a to high player count, shuffle them and place them face down in a chosen pattern on the table. You can choose the pattern of the rulebook, but on the back of the player count you can find many additional setups with different difficulties as well. You can also make your own setup. Choose a crater with a difficulty and place it where shown on your chosen setup. Shuffle the small monster tokens and place three tokens on the lair symbols on the starter tiles. Shuffle the big monster tokens and place them nearby. Also place coins, trap tokens, wall markers, moon seal tokens, damage markers and all dices nearby. The equipment tokens are placed in the bag nearby and the beast and toughness dial are put aside for later. All players take a hero picture, character pawn, five toughness markers and three used equipment tokens. You can dress up your hero as you like before placing it in your player board. Draw one equipment token out of the bag and place it on your hero with the not upgraded side up. Also take a coin and place it in your backpack. Place all hero tokens on the castle tile and give the first player the Avel coat of arms. You are now ready to save the world.
On your turn, you can take two actions. You can take the same action twice. You can take a move action where you move to an adjacent tile, or move through shortcuts. If two tiles have a shortcut symbol, you can choose to move from one tile to another as long as it has the shortcut symbol. This is a great way to move across the map quickly. If you stand on a tile with a monster, you can choose to battle it. You are never obligated to battle a monster. To battle a monster, take the two green dices and any dices you gain extra because of choosing to use equipment. The player to your left will play as the monster and roll the dices indicated on the monster tile. If the monster tile shows a black and a purple die for example, this is what the monster will use to battle you.
A battle consists of a maximum of three clashes. During a battle, you can use three different equipment tokens that you have equipped. Some tokens give you the ability to reroll enemy dices for a better outcome, where other tokens can give you even more dices to throw with. For every clash, you and the player to your left throw the dices to see the outcome. If you have rolled a sword, you deal one damage to the monster. A shield means you defend yourself from an incoming damage from the monster. The monster on his turn can also roll damage and defense. After rolling, compare the results to see how much damage you have dealt and received. You defeat the monster if you deal more damage then it has toughness, you defeat the monster and may take the rewards shown on the tile. This can be new equipment, upgrading equipped equipment, or coins for example. If you have not defeated the monster yet, you can decide to clash again unless this was the third time, or to stop battling. Note that big monsters always have an extra attribute that works against you. Like rolling fewer dice for example. Always look closely to your health, equipment and likeliness of surviving before you start a battle.
If you receive to much damage, meaning you have to remove more toughness tokens then you have left, you get stunned. Move your character to the castle tile, lose one equipment and all your coins. Then regain all of your health and immediately end your turn. You are healed by the magic of the healing jewel. If you defeat the monster at the same time you get stunned, you still gain a reward. When you gain equipment or coins, you can place them in your backpack. You can stuff as many things in your backpack as you can fit. If you can’t place something between the borders of the backpack, you have to discard it. If at any time you stand on the same tile as another player, you may freely exchange equipment as long as it fit in your backpacks. When you are done battling, but have received some damage, you might want to take a rest action. If you take this action, you regain two health. The last action to take are tile actions. While exploring the world, you will come across many different places that can help you prepare for the beast. You can find a location that set up walls at the castle for example, or place traps for the beast. If a tile shows you can take an action, you may do so by following the location rules in the rulebook.
Once all players have taken two turns, he first player moves the astrolabe marker one space forward on the moon track. If the token stops on a space with a lair symbol, spawn all monsters on visible lair symbols. If it stops on a toughness symbol, all players regain one health. Near the end of the moon track, you will see the seal, trap and wall tokens. If you have passed this symbols, you can no longer place seals, traps and wall tokens. Make sure your preparations are ready in time. The last space on the moon track is the black moon rising symbol. If you have reached this space, the moon has risen and the beast arrives. When this happens, reveal all tiles and place monsters on any revealed lairs. Reveal the crater token and place all the monsters as indicated on the tile. Roll a dice to see where to place the monsters. Depending on the symbol you roll, the crater token will show you where to spawn monsters. Place the beast figure on the tile with the crater token and remove the crater token from the game. Set the beast toughness dial to the indicated health according to the amount of players and get ready to fight. The game will continue in rounds where every player still takes two turns, but instead of moving on the moon track, the beast and every monster still on the board will move one step closer to the castle at the end of a round. If even one monster enters the castle, every one loses. Any set traps and walls will come to good use now by stopping monsters from entering the castle for a turn or dealing damage to the beast. If you battle the beast, he will always throw five dices to attack you. You win the game if you manage to defeat all the monsters and the beast, without one entering the castle.
Playthrough of the game.
After setting up the game and reading the rules, I was far from ready for battle. Since you can create your own character, I grabbed what colored pencils I had and got to work. After both spending way to much time on perfecting our soldiers, we proudly placed them inside our character board. We had picked a medium difficulty game, thinking a game starting from 8+ would be easy enough to get the hang of it. It was indeed easy to learn and we did ok until we realized in two turns the beast would arrive and we had only set one trap, covered one lair, set up two walls and I had very bad equipment because of bad luck and bad decisions. In search of better equipment in those last two turns, I tried to defeat some more monsters to gain better equipment as a reward. I defeated one but my reward was a shield which I already had equipped. I guess we would have to face the beast with everything we had gathered so far. The beast spawned and with him a couple of monsters as well. Now we were threatened with not only the beast coming closer every turn, but all of his monsters as well. If even one would get passed us, we would be defeated. We started fighting the monsters closest to the castle, but soon realized there were just to many of them. The ballista we had set up helped, and we defeated all the monsters before they could enter the castle. Here we were, wounded, barely surviving while we did not yet deal even one damage to that damn beast who was now scary close to the castle. We threw everything we had at him, I even sacrificed myself, but it wasn’t enough. The beast entered the castle and we were defeated in our first game.
Fortunately for us, we now knew what to focus on and what is less important. In every game we have battled again, we were better and better even with other scenarios. There is just so much replayability in this game. So many scenario’s to play, or you can make your own scenario’s, different monsters you will fight and encounter, different traps to place, equipment you will take. And on top of that, you get to design your own character each time if you want. You can even download sheets for an empty character design instead of the already printed armor and characteristics on the standard sheets. We love this aspect since we are both creative, but it also helps to already place you in the world of the game. If you have trouble naming your character, there is even a sheet where you roll two dices where one will give you a name and the other a title like ‘The Great’ for example. I was very happy with this since I can never come up with a perfect name for any of my characters in any game. All together, the designers have thought a lot of things through. The game also doesn’t take that long, but feels like quite an adventure. They managed to combine some sort of exploration phase in the beginning with a preparation phase in the middle and an endgame battle in the end.
The Chronicles of Avel is a cooperative adventure game where you get to explore, fight and defend the land of Avel. Once you know every inch of the map, you have limited time to set up traps and defend yourself for the beast. Once the beast arrives, the only thing left to do is fight and survive. We are in love with the gameplay and the look of this game, especially since you can create your own character. The tiles of the world and the monsters you encounter have amazing artwork that fits right in with the story. With the many scenarios you can play or create yourself, no game will be the same. This game is great to play with younger board gamers as well as older experienced board gamers since it’s easy to learn but you can create a challenging scenario. This game has found a nice spot in our collection.