When I went to Gen Con in 2016, one of the games I was most looking forward to trying out was Vast: The Crystal Caverns. I got a demo, and later was able to play a full game. It’s a fantastic asymmetric experience that I really need to play more in order to try out all the roles. Now, there’s a sequel currently up on Kickstarter called
Vast: The Mysterious Manor is a game designed by Patrick Leder and published by Leder Games. It is a game for 1-5 players that takes the asymmetric approach of The Crystal Caverns and puts it in what is essentially a haunted house.
I don’t have an exact component breakdown – I have a feeling it will change as more stretch goals get unlocked. But you’ll get the idea as we go through things. There are five roles in the game – the Paladin, the Skeletons, the Spider, the Manor, and the Enchanter (this is also turn order). With fewer than five players, there are recommended setups for the different roles. There’s also a Manor board, which is a bit of a change from the original game – that one was just tiles. On this board, you’ll place the Abyss tile in the center (as long as the Spider is being used) surrounded by four facedown tiles. Another facedown tile is placed at the Entrance, and Armory tiles are placed on the four sword spaces.
The Vast system is all about asymmetry. In other words, everything plays differently from everything else. Each role has its own rules and win conditions. So let’s dive in and see what they’re all about.
PALADIN: The Paladin is trying to kill the Spider in order to win the game. If there’s no Spider, then it’s all about killing Poltergeists. The Paladin begins the game on the Entrance to the Manor with a Health of 7 and a Grit of 0. He’ll also have a Sanctity deck, with black Sanctity cubes marking spaces on his board. Two yellow Hero cubes are kept at the top of his board, with white Devotion cubes nearby.
As the Paladin’s, on your turn, you will first pick up Hero cubes. There will be some at various points on the Grit track – don’t pick up those. Just pick up the ones at the top of the board. At any time during your turn, you may place these on various statistics. Perception increases the number of encounters you can have each turn. Movement increases the number of tiles you can move each turn. Strength determines whether you can hit different targets. Each of these will begin at one.
The next thing you can do is move and act. These can be done in any order, and you’ll be spending Movement and Perception accordingly. You can’t move if you have spent all of your Perception, since Perception is what lets you act on a new tile. There are three steps to an Encounter:
- Reveal and Resolve a Dark tile. If the tile you move to is unrevealed, flip it. It will need to be positioned so there’s an open edge towards the place where you entered. After this, you will put dark tiles in any empty adjacent spaces and gain two Grit. Then resolve the tile. If it’s an Event, the Manor plays an Event card from his hand. If it’s a Treasure room, add a treasure token. If it’s a Pit, nothing happens (yet). If it’s a Poltergeist, add a Poltergeist piece to the tile. If it’s an Armory, nothing happens (for you). If it’s a Shrine, gain a Devotion of your choice (Fire or Light) or gain a Sanctity card.
- Resolve Attacks. Fight monsters in your space in any order. You need enough strength to fight Skeletons, the Spider, an Egg, a Poltergeist, the Wraith, or the Enchanter.
- Collect Treasures. If there were any Treasure tokens on the tile, collect them. The Manor draws two treasure cards and gives you one. If you choose to decline the treasure, you gain 5 Grit. Gaining more Grit will give you access to more Hero cubes, thus giving you more action opportunities. It will also give you Sanctity cubes to add to Devotion pools.
A couple of concepts to talk about here. First, the Paladin has four Tasks to complete, and as each one is finished, he’ll get a new Sanctity card. Tasks include attacking the Spider or Poltergeists twice, lighting 20 tiles, reaching 11 Grit, and reaching 26 Grit.
The other thing is Devotions. The Paladin has a Fire pool and a Light pool, with each able to hold five cubes. You gain Fire if you didn’t attack a Spider or Poltergeist, and can spend Fire to breach a wall or increase your Strength. You gain Light each time you attack and/or lose Grit, and spend it to place Lamps (lighting adjacent tiles), remove Webs, or gain Health.
The Paladin wins the game by reducing the Spider to 0 Health. In the absence of a Spider, destroy 7 Poltergeists to win. In the absence of a Spider or Manor player, destroy 5 Poltergeists to win.
SKELETONS: The Skeletons have a goal to kill the Paladin, or Spider without a Paladin player. There are five different Skeletons – Casty, Screamy, Shooty, Slashy, and Stabby – that are randomly assigned to the marching orders. The pieces for the two leftmost Skeletons are placed on the player board, with the others nearby. The Skeletons player also has a facedown deck of Gear cards, as well as a Stability of 0.
As the Skeletons player, you will begin a turn by gaining two stability. This is the ability of the Skeletons to hold themselves together. When you get up to 4, 7, or 10, you’ll have another available Skeleton.
Next, you’ll spawn Skeletons. Take all available Skeletons you have and place each one at a Pit on the edge of the board. Each Pit can only hold one Skeleton.
Finally, you’ll activate Skeletons in March Order. A Skeleton gets 4 movement, and you may spend one stability to give 4 more movement (once per Skeleton). Skeletons can move across open spaces (ones that have no tiles) and can cross walls for an extra movement. Once it has finished moving, it can loot a Treasure token (remove it from the board for 2 stability), collect Gear from an Armory tile, attack a piece in its space (only the Paladin, Poltergeists, the Spider in absence of the Paladin, or the Enchanter), or warp to a new Pit tile.
Each Skeleton has their own special abilities. Casty can spend a Stability to cast Dancing Lights, which distracts players in adjacent spaces (which gives attacking Skeletons +1 Strength). Screamy can spend a Stability to give 4 movement to another Skeleton within 2 spaces. Shooty can attack a visible target 2 spaces away. Slashy gets +2 Strength when attacking. Stabby can perform sneak attacks on distracted targets. More Skeletons are getting added through stretch goals.
The Skeletons win if they kill the Paladin. If there’s no Paladin, the Skeletons win if they kill the Spider. If there’s also no Spider, the Skeletons win if they kill 7 Poltergeists. If there’s also no Manor player, the Skeletons only need to kill 5 Poltergeists.
SPIDER: Unlike the Paladin and the Skeleton, the Spider is not about killing the others. The Spider just wants to escape. It has three forms, and starts with the Giant Spider on the Abyss tile and the Giant Spider Form card on its player board. It also gets three Power cards in hand, and a pile of the other tokens it will need – Terror cubes, Blood cubes, Web tokens, and Egg tokens.
As the Spider, your turn will consist of four steps. First, you will reveal your form. In the first turn, you’ll be the Giant Spider so you won’t have to reveal. But in the future, you could be the Giant Spider, Caster, or Spiderling. Whenever you reveal a new form, you’ll replace the current Spider piece with the new one. When you switch to Spiderlings, you will have several in one spot. When you switch away from Spiderlings, you’ll go in any one space occupied by Spiderlings before taking the rest away. When you switch to a Caster, you’ll gain a Blood token and add one Blood token to each Egg on the board.
Next, you’ll move and use powers. All three spider forms can use Eyes, Web, or Fangs cards in different ways.
- The Giant Spider has 3 movement and can cross one Wall per turn. Eyes can be used to reveal adjacent tiles, gaining Blood for each Event revealed. Fangs are used to attack other pieces in your spot. Web places webs to slow down other pieces. Additionally, you can discard 2 cards to place an Egg in your space, spend 3 Blood to gain 1 Terror, discard a card to gain an extra movement, discard a card to loot a treasure, or spend a Blood to put Blood tokens on all nearby Eggs.
- The Caster has 2 movement, and can use Eyes to reveal any tile on the board, gaining Blood for revealed Events. Fangs are used to attack any visible piece. Web puts out webs under any visible piece or on a visible space. Additionally, you can discard a card to gain a Terror (only if you have 6 Webs on the board), discard 2 cards to place an Egg, discard a card for a movement, discard a card to loot a treasure, or spend a Blood to place a Blood token on a visible Egg.
- Each Spiderling has 4 movement and can cross walls. Eyes can reveal any tile occupied by a Spiderling with the same Blood for Event reward. Fangs are used to attack pieces in a Spiderling’s space, moving them back a space and gaining a Blood. Web puts webs on all spaces with Spiderlings. Additionally, you can discard a card to gain a Terror (but only with 8 Webs on the board), discard a card to move all Spiderlings an extra space, or spend 3 Blood to gain one Terror.
After moving and using powers, you draw new Power cards up to your maximum hand size. You’ll end your turn by choosing a Form, which will be revealed to everyone next turn.
If you get up to 12 Terror, you can head for the Entrance to the Manor. If you get there successfully, you win.
MANOR: The Manor, like the Cave in the original Vast, hates everyone and wants them all to die. It wins by gaining enough Mold. The Manor starts with 4 Omens and 0 on the Mold track. It will also get a hand of three Event cards. It will control the Wraith, placing it on any unoccupied Dark tile at the beginning of its first turn.
As the Manor, you will follow four steps every turn. First, you will spend Omens and resolve. There are four options for places you can put your Omens. The actions will be resolved in the following order:
- Swap. Swap the position of two tiles within a certain distance from each other. You can orient them any way you wish, and anything on a tile moves with it.
- Shift. Move any tile to an open space. You can move it as many spaces as you have assigned Omens, though only half that if the tile is occupied.
- Reveal. Reveal as many Dark tiles as you have assigned Omens, in any order.
- Wall. Place a Force Wall between any two adjacent tiles that don’t have a Wall between them.
After resolving Omens, it’s time to walk and/or fly with your Wraith. To walk, play an event card for 2 movement. If you move through or into a space with a Lamp, Dancing Lights, or Web, remove it. Other player pieces or other tokens get moved to the side, or sometimes they get scattered (like the Skeletons or Enchanter). To fly, play an Event card and move in the pattern shown. You can only fly over lit tiles with nothing on them, and cannot cross walls. If you complete the pattern on the card, increase your Mold accordingly, placing the Wraith and a Poltergeist on the final tile.
The next step is to draw Events and place Treasures. Draw one Event per Omen you have assigned to Events. Then place treasures based on assigned Omens. Finally, take the number of Omens for your next turn based on the number of Poltergeists you have on the board.
If you get up to 15 Mold, you win.
ENCHANTER: The Enchanter is the role I know the least about, primarily because it’s not included in the current version of the rules. I know the fifth role for the original Vast, the Thief, was the last one added, and it looks like this is a similar situation. I’m guessing it can cast spells and generally cause mischief.
So that’s the game. It looks pretty different from the original Vast, but maintains a lot of that same spirit that made the first one so fun. It seems like this one might be a bit more contained, which might make for more interaction. I’ve watched Patrick Leder talk on Twitter about playtesting the game for a while now, so I feel pretty confident he’s got it balanced. It seems like another really good asymmetric game and I encourage you to check it out. The Kickstarter runs until June 26, and has already funded. And no, I haven’t received any compensation from Leder Games for talking about this one, I’m just very interested in seeing it succeed because I love the concept. Thanks for reading!