Published by: Leder Games
# of Players: 1 to 5
Each player will take control of one of the various subjects of this story, even the cave. The player will do their best to accomplish the goal that their subject was trying to complete. Vast is a 5 games in one. Each role will play very differently. Will you be able to master your role and accomplish the goal set before you? If so, you may be ready to take on Vast: The Crystal Caverns.
Vast: The Crystal Cavern is a solid box full of cards and cardboard. I think the thief would need a buddy to help sneak this game out of the cave. Each player will have their own components based on their role. Each role comes with a player board that contains your stats, your goal, and various spots for your specific role. Each role minus the cave will have their own standee for movement through the cave. Each role will have cards that are on a very nice card stock that will hold up over time. Each role has their own tokens that will vary from wooden cubes to cardboard tokens. The Cave will have cardboard tiles that they will place to expand the cavern. The Cave will also have a bag that will contain their omen tokens that they will use for special actions. Each role will also have a rule sheet that explains their set up, goal, and actions they will perform on their turn. These are taken almost directly from the rule book.
The rule book was a tough cookie to crack. I had a hard time finding answers to questions I had during the game and during the set up. Nowhere in the rule book is there a spot that says what each token is. There are times where you are not sure who this token belongs too or what are you supposed to do with them. This was made worse due to some upgraded components that took the place of cardboard tokens, but they are not explained in the rules. While the rules become easier to understand over time, the first few games played were extremely tough. Some novice players will be turned off by this. I do like the art overall and it works nicely with the actual game play. I would give Vast a good job on the components and poor job on the rule book.
Vast is essentially 5 games in one, and because of that I am only going to go over the basics of each role or this review would never end. Each player is given a role based on a scenario. The scenario is based on player count and there are a ton of variant scenarios. Once each player has their role, they will take their components and perform their set-up based on their rule page.
The Knight role has the goal of killing the Dragon. The Knight will have hero cubes that they will assign to different attributes and/or equipment. These will boost the effects of move and actions. The Knight will be able to move through the cave a number of tiles based on his movement attribute. When you move onto an unrevealed tile, you will flip it over and perform any of the various actions on the tile. These can range from good things like treasure and crystals to bad things like events and ambushes. For attacking you will be comparing your attack stat against the Dragon's armor or the Goblin Tribe's strength. You will also have a sidequest cards in your hand that you can complete at any time. Once the Dragon has 0 health, you win the game. If there is no Dragon, you win by smashing 5 crystals and leaving the cave.
The Goblins role has a goal similar to the Knight except they are trying to kill him and not the Dragon. You will control 3 tribes of Goblins that have occupied the cave. Each turn you will choose a war card that will add Goblin discs to each Goblin Tribe based on the numbers on the card. You never want your population for a tribe to be larger than 4. Apparently they prefer lower player counts because if you go over you reduce down to four and scatter a revealed tribe. You will next draw a monster cards based on a number on the war card and assign them to the tribes of your choice. You will also draw a secret which can be used to help you in some way based on the card's text. Finally you will perform your actions. Each tribe performs one action. They can move, attack, plunder treasure, explore the cave by adding a new tile, or reveal a tribe. A tribe is hidden till you reveal them and place them on a face down tile matching their tribe symbol. You can also hide a tribe by placing their token on your player board. Each tribe also has a special action that only the specific tribe can perform. The Goblins win by killing the Knight, or Dragon if there is no Knight. If there is no Knight or Dragon, that is boring but you can win by smashing 5 crystal tokens.
The Dragon role has 2 phases. During the first part of the game, you are asleep and trying to wake up. Once you wake up, you will surface to the same level as everyone else in the cave and try and find your tasty meal. During your turn you may move 1 or 2 tiles in a straight line as a free movement. You can use this at anytime during your turn. Performing actions like returning treasure to the Cave, killing Goblins and the Thief will help move up on Greed, Hunger and Pride tracks. You will move up on the Pride track if you do not move during the turn. When you fulfill the requirements of a sloth condition, you will remove the cube and add it your wakefulness track. One you have 11 cubes on your wakefulness track, you will be awake. Based on power symbols you have control, you will be able to perform different powers like burning an area or using your claws. A dragon die has locations of where that power will hit. The goal of the Dragon is to wake up and get out of the cave.
The Cave's goal is to place all the cave tiles and then destroy cave tiles till 5 crystal tiles have been destroyed. During your turn you will collect Omen tokens that can be used to perform special actions like moving sloth cubes on the Dragon's wakefulness track back to the sloth tracks. After you have used your omen powers, you will shape the cave by adding a face down tile from your hand to the board. (you will know what is on the front side) Finally you will place a treasure token on a tile that is currently face down and does not have a player on it. Once you have placed all the cave tiles, you will switch to collapse mode. During the Cave's turn, they will remove 3 tiles from play area. First priority is to tiles that are only touching on one side, then two and so on. If the tile is face down, reveal it to see if a crystal was on it. Keep track of all crystal tiles that have collapsed because once you have collapsed 5 of them, you win the game.
Finally we have the thief role. As the Thief you are stealing treasure and Dragon gems to get rid of your curse. The curse is that you are undying and will come back to life when you get killed. You will get killed during the game. During your turn, you will assign stat tokens that will help during your move and action phase. You will spend cubes to loot treasure, climb over walls, steal from another player or attack another player. Carrying treasure will reduce your stealth and make you easier to kill. You want to get treasure and exit the cave to deposit fast before you are killed and lose it. Once you have deposited enough treasure to lift the curse, you will win the game.
Vast is a unique game that captures the feeling of each role with their own unique rules. This is not a game for newer ones to the hobby. I spent much of my first few plays, confused to what was all going on. You may know what your role does and how it functions, but there is no where on your sheet that explains what the other roles do during their turn and how it affects you. Vast has a very steep learning curve in my opinion and you do not truly enjoy the game till you have played and understood each role. This also a game that I would prefer playing with people who have experience with the game. Teaching it is a bear and new players will still be confused during the game. The rule book does not help this situation as some questions are left unanswered or take forever to find. I do love the feel of the different roles. My favorite is the cave. The back of the rule book has a ton of variants on what roles to use based on player count and that adds a ton of replay. Your first few games will drag on longer than you would prefer, especially at the 5 player count. Once everyone has experience with Vast, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. While I would play this again, this is not a game I would be pushing to hit the table. I would recommend this to fantasy genre fans and those who like a game with variable roles and lots of replay. This is a game for the more experienced gamer, but anyone can learn it over time. I found it very unique and once again I must say that I love being the Cave.
+Each role is unique and plays very differently
+Being able to play as the cave
+The amount of replay available is impressive
-The rules are confusing
-Steep Learning curve
-Some may not like the 5 mini games in one game feel