With highly imaginative and fantastic looking artwork, Vasty Wilds presents a new, wonderful world for board gamers to explore. An amazing exploration game, Vasty Wilds is easy to teach, thoroughly engaging, and comes with some of the best meeples/pawns I’ve ever seen.
Whenever Board Game Authority is asked to review a game the normal process is for me to check out the game’s website (provided there is one). In the case of Vasty Wilds, the imagery I saw when I opened up http://www.vastywilds.com/ simply blew me away. The sheer amount of creativity behind the game was immediately apparent. Cycling through the images on the site, I wanted to know more about this game and the world it represented. I was drawn in and I wanted to play this game, if for no other reason than to experience its wonderful setting.
The theme of Vasty Wilds, the adventures of slightly anthropomorphic forest critters, might seem familiar to some, but those similarities end quickly enough. Instead of the same ole heroic mice we’re used to seeing, we get Leaf Anglers, Axolotls, Frilled Steeds, Hydrogen Jellyfish, Alltheberry Juice, Venus Legtraps, Possum/Giraffe Hybrids, Canopy Rays, Volecraft, Arboreal Squids, Wardenbugs, and much, much more. The richness of the word in which Vasty Wilds is set is refreshing, inspired, and welcomed.
While the imaginative setting and outstanding art might be enough for some, others will want more detail about the game itself. Is it any fun? Is it worth buying (backing on Kickstarter)? My answer is: unequivocally, yes.
The rules for Vasty Wilds are easy to learn and teach. At its core, Vasty Wilds is an exploration game where the players build the game “board” during play. Each turn players add to the map, creating new places to explore and, potentially, new treasures to find. The goal of Vasty Wilds is to be the first player to find all of your objectives. The difficulty of this task lies in the fact that your opponent(s) are placing your objectives; you do not have a say in where your objectives are placed. Certain cards allow objective tokens to be moved around on the map, or even removed from the board. This certainly keeps players on their toes.
To start a game of Vasty Wilds, players will construct the roots of the forest together. This is the foundation of the map and dictates where future cards may be played. Building this root system is fun and you probably won’t experience the same set up twice, unless that is what you are going for. From these initial roots, the playing area will grow. The draw deck is composed of Forest Cards, which players will play from their hand to create the every growing forest they’ll explore.
Placement of the Forest Cards is actually kind of nifty. Each time you place a card you’ll be covering up part of another card. All of the Forest Cards contain a red triangle and most of them have a blue dot. You’ll place the cards so that the red triangle covers up the blue dot. Another really neat thing about the Forest Cards is that each placement is beneficial to you and detrimental to your opponent. Common effects of Forest Cards are: pawn movement, healing, dealing damage, gaining items, and placing/moving objectives.
When a card says “Place Objectives”, each player places an objective marker for the player to their left. Objective tokens for all players are placed on the board at the same time. With this mechanic, you never know where your objective will end up.
To win the game, you’ll need to be the first person to collect all of their objectives (the number of objectives needed is determined by the number of players). This sounds a lot easier than it is. Your opponent will most assuredly place your objectives as far away from your pawn as possible. But, there are a few ways to move quickly around the board. However, the moment you think you’re well on your way to obtaining an objective, it will move clear across the board. Or, you’ll receive enough wounds that you’ll have to return to the starting space. It is fun to mess with your opponent like this and, in a fun way, slightly frustrating when they do it to you in return.
The components in Vasty Wilds, specifically the pawns, are well above that of your typical board game. The four pawns included in the game are laser cut wood and resemble small forest creatures, such as a mouse, frog, and mole (I’m not sure what the last one is supposed to be). In addition to coming in different colors, they are also shaped differently, thus players that are color blind should not have difficulty distinguishing between the various pawns on the board. If that wasn’t enough, their base contains slots for two wound markers (shaped like skulls) which means damage is tracked right on the meeple. The several objective tokens are nicely illustrated and the included dice have a sort of marbled look to them that goes well with the overall theme. The rulebook has ample illustrations and diagrams showing exactly how to place cards and which moves are legal.
Because of the random setup and modular board, the game won’t play the same way twice. Creating the wild forest that you’ll explore during the game is akin to laying tiles in Carcassonne, which will create different maps each time the game is played. There are 77 Forest Cards in Vasty Wilds and we’ve never run out before ending the game. The replay value is definitely high.
Vasty Wilds is a supremely fun, modular, exploration game that has some of the best pawns/meeples I’ve ever seen. The artwork and imagination really push the game over the top and make Vasty Wilds an instant buy. I think Vasty Wilds will appeal to a wide range of gamers, from casual to hobbyist. For gamer families, Vasty Wilds will be an instant hit that frequently makes it to the table. It is easy enough for younger family members to pick up, but has enough strategy to keep mom and dad engaged the entire time. Vasty Wilds is currently live on Kickstarter. Head over there now and pledge your support.