Kings of Ruin: Cat pictures

I recently received Kings of Ruin, the latest game in the Tainted Grail saga.

Awaken Realms specializes in these large-scale narrative games that come with elaborate miniatures, and Kings of Ruin is no exception. Let’s see what the cats think of it.

Shuba inspects the sides of the box. He finds it to be up to his standards.

Jiku inspects the top of the box. All seems secure.

What’s inside the box? The answer: interesting foam pieces. Jiku finds them to be soft and comfortable. Shuba enjoys licking them.

Let’s try this the other way around to be sure.

Let’s set up the boxes for a group shot. Shuba inspects the layout for artistic integrity (and possible cat treats).

Having received Shuba’s approval (see the nose on the left), I’m permitted to show you the full contents of the box.

Let’s look at the game from the less-relevant human perspective.

Narratively, Kings of Ruin is not a “sequel” to the games of Tainted Grail (Fall of Avalon, The Last Knight, Age of Legends, Red Death). Those games were set in a fantasy version of Arthurian-legend Britain. Kings of Ruin is set “on the other side of the island.” It has a loose connection to the TG story, in that the origin of the kingdoms also dates back to when King Arthur led his people across the sea to a new land. Otherwise, this is a different story with different characters.

The first Tainted Grail game, Fall of Avalon, was criticized by some players for being too much of a grind. It’s definitely a survival game: As you make your way through the story, you have to manage resources to feed yourself, keep menhirs lit, escape enemies, and still get through the story to accomplish your characters’ tasks. I felt the resource challenge was part of the game, but the others in my gaming group did not agree; to them it seemed like an obstacle to experiencing the story and enjoying the game.

The next two games, The Last Knight and Age of Legends, were released as stretch goals to the original crowdfunding campaign. AR reduced the “grind” mechanic for those two games. (Red Death was always understood to be a challenging game that required already-developed characters from any of the previous games in the series.)

For Kings of Ruin, Awaken Realms revamped the resource grind. The early reaction was quite positive. So AR went further, and created a “Tainted Grail 2.0 upgrade.” This revised the mechanics of the original game to be more in line with its successors. They didn’t just create a couple of pages of new rules: They went all out, revised the game journals and many existing cards for the new experience. Those folks who were content with the original game were not missing anything; the game’s story did not change, only the underlying mechanism for playing it.

Let’s scroll back to that picture. Starting from the upper left and going clockwise, we see:

  • The base game Kings of Ruin. You may be able to see how thick it is compared to the other boxes. It’s easily larger than the original Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon.
  • Kings of Ruin: Wyrd Encounters contains optional additional miniatures. It also contains extra cards that can be used when including the miniatures.
  • Kings of Ruin: Mounted Heroes contains miniatures you can use when your characters acquire mounts. This is definitely a completionist purchase; there’s no reason to get this other than “Hey, my character has a horse, so now I get to use this nifty mini.”
  • Tainted Grail journals. Note that this is a stack of three boxes, containing the revised game story for all three major components of the original Tainted Grail series.
  • Tainted Grail 2.0 Upgrade pack contains revised cards for the original Tainted Grail series. Again, the journals + upgrade pack don’t change the story, just the grinding mechanics that many players found unpleasant.
  • Kings of Ruin: Campground miniature. I think the reason I got this is because I registered for the KoR crowdfunding campaign within the first 24 hours of its start. It contains a mini that can be used when your characters are in-camp as they explore the map. It’s not needed, but it looks great.

The obvious question is: When will I get a chance to play all of this? I haven’t the slightest idea. I’ve only gone half-way through the original Fall of Avalon, much less the sequels; in fact, I haven’t even removed the shrink-wrap from the boxes. I also have other AR narrative games on my shelves: Etherfields and ISS Vanguard.

To add to that, my current group of gamer friends are not enthusiastic about long-form narrative campaigns the way I am. This means that I’d be playing the games solo. (To be fair, they did go through the initial Etherfields core campaign with me, but seem disinclined to continue.)

So… maybe someday…

The point is, getting all these game boxes made the cats happy, at least least for a day or two. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

This box never contained a game. Jiku finds it acceptable anyway.

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