Game Buzz: Dark Force Incursion

Over the next few posts, I wanted to take a look at some free roll-and-write games that have been released, and are good to play during this time of social isolation. We’ll start with

image by BGG user DRMGames

Dark Force Incursion (Toby Lancaster, DRM Games) is a solo roll-and-write game of war, where you’re marching your troops across a map in order to gain control of various fortresses. I first became aware of this through the Kickstarter campaign that just finished up a couple of days ago. That campaign was to fund some expansion maps, but the base game and five different maps are all available for free – you can find the links on that Kickstarter page, or over at BGG.

For the game, all you need is a map, something to write with, and one d6. Each map consists of a lot of hexes, as well as several fortresses and some terrain. The base maps all have mountains, which are impassable. In the starting space, you will write the numbers 1-6 in sequence on the edges, and you’re ready to go.

Each turn, you’ll roll the die, then find the number in your current hex. Write the same number right across the line in the adjacent hex, then continue the sequence by writing the remaining numbers 1-6 on their corresponding edges. So if you roll a 3, write a 3 in the adjacent spot, then 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, moving around the hex clockwise. Be sure to circle the matching pair as this represents one of your armies. On your next turn, choose which hex you want to start from before rolling.

image from rulebook

If you roll a number that already has one of your armies on it, you have created a blocked hex. Looking at the example above, let’s say you’re in the third hex from the start (which is where the star is). You roll a 4. That already has an army, so move around to the next available hex, which is the one next to the 5. Write a 4, then write the rest of the sequence around the edges. Then trace around the edges of the hex to create a blocked hex. You cannot enter a blocked hex.

image rom rulebook

As you continue, some numbers will not line up. You can see this above with the 3 and 6. If you roll a number where the adjacent number does not line up, you have created a dark army. These are the opposing forces. You will black out the connection between them. But it gets worse. If you roll a blacked out number, you will lose one of your armies. So, from that same hex, if you roll a 3 and it’s already blacked out, you have to black out the army on the 4s. If you roll a 3 again from the SAME hex, and there are no armies to claim, you have to block the next adjacent hex (the one next to the 5), AND you have to put a dark army across the connection.

The goal of the game is to reach the fortresses on the board with at least one of your armies. It doesn’t matter if there are also dark forces there. However, it is possible to lose a fort if it is surrounded by dark forces, or if it becomes blocked. To win, you want to have reached more forts than your enemies defend. You can lose if 25 dark armies have appeared on the map before you reach the end.

image by BGG user DRMGames

So far, I’ve only gotten to pay this once, but I like it. The game is very luck-driven – you have a choice about where you’re starting from, but from there, you’re at the whim of the die. There’s no way to mitigate any of your luck, you just have to hope for the number you need. Despite that, it’s really interesting to see your armies spread out across the map, and you can create some really cool stories to go along with it. I wouldn’t call this game heavy strategy by any means, but it’s definitely a fun little game.

Another free roll-and-write next time. Thanks for reading!

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