If you’re anything like me, the first time you saw this picture it sent chills of excitement up your spine. If you are a fan of the worker placement classic Lords of Waterdeep you will understand. This game is designed by Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson and Andrew Veen. Now you may not know who Peter and Rodney are but they designed Lords of Waterdeep, one of my favorite games ever made. So when I heard that Gale Force Nine was releasing a new game involving this duo I was beyond excited. Now there has been very little information about this game and no real gameplay videos which is very rare in the boardgaming world before the release of a game. I wanted to try and write an article to 1) Give this game more press because I’m a huge fan of the designers and 2) try and put out as much info as we have about the game so far including the most current release date.
Tyrants of the Underdark pits 2-4 players as leaders of different Drow houses (if you’re not a Dungeons and Dragons player a Drow is a type of Dark Elf, if you’re still lost then imagine Legolas from Lord of the Rings with dark skin.) These players are utilizing decks of cards that they build and purchase throughout the game to try and take control of different areas of the Underdark. (The Underdark is a large underground network of caves and caverns in the Dungeons and Dragons universe where all sorts of nasty creatures live). Your deck is comprised of minions. Throughout the game you will continually weed bad cards out of your deck while trying to deal in more powerful cards to allow you to take better actions and control more areas.
You will win the game by having the most victory points. Victory points are acquired by recruiting powerful minions to be in your deck and by controlling important locations of the Underdark.
Every player will start the game with a small deck of cards consisting of some basic minions. You will have seven noble cards and three soldier cards. This creates a ten card deck and you draw a five card hand. The common deck that can be purchased by everyone is known as the Market Deck. This is the common pool of cards that everyone can purchase cards from to strengthen their own decks and make them bigger. To create the market deck, you will take two of the four provided market half decks and shuffle them together. A market half deck is a forty card deck that correlates to one of four included minion types. This will create lots of replayability and vary strategies within game play.
The two resources in the game are power and influence.
You gain power and influence mostly by playing your cards. Any power and influence must be used in the turn that gain them or they are lost. Power allows you to control the board and take out enemies. You can deploy your troops, assassinate enemy troops, and return your spies with power. With influence you can buy more cards from the market.
Tyrants of the Underdark is played in a sequence of rounds that will have the following order:
As you can see during step one of your turn you will play cards to gain different resources in your resource pool and then in step two you will spend those resources to take actions.
An example of an available card for purchase can be seen below. 1) Is the name of the card. 2) How much the card costs in influence. 3) Aspect of the card – minions will have different aspects that each represent different parts of Drow society. 4) Minion type- there are 4 different types of minions in the game that we will talk about later. 5) Deck symbol – which market half deck the card belongs to. 6) Action or rules text – what the card does when you play it. 7) Flavor Text – Gives some story about the minion that is thematic and helps you feel more immersed in the world. 8) Victory Point Value – how many points the card is worth if it is in your deck, hand or discard pile at the end of the game. 9) Inner Circle VP Value – How many victory points the card is worth if it is in your inner circle at the end of the game. 10) How many times you will find this card in the half deck (2 dots for two cards.)
The four different market half decks are tied to the Drow, Dragons, Elemental, and Demons. The Drow cards are streamlined cards at lower influence costs. The dragons contain many high influence cost cards and have five dragons in particular that will reward you for following a certain strategy. The Elemental deck is made up of cards that have a “focus” ability. This ability becomes more powerful if you have multiple cards that have the same aspect. The demon deck features cards that will put insane outcasts in your opponent’s decks. Demons will also have cards that will allow you to devour your own cards in order to play them for greater benefits.
Most actions that you will take in the game will require you to have presence in the different locations where you want your actions to happen. You will have presence at any location where you have a troop, a spy, or at any space that you have a troop adjacent. You will also have presence at a troop space on a route that is adjacent to a site or space where you have a troop.
Sites will have multiple troop spaces within a single box that represents the entire location.
You will have control over a location if the majority of the colors in the troop spaces are your color.
When you take control of a site you may also get a site control marker that will give you additional bonus abilities or points. So it will bode well for you if more areas of the board can be controlled by your troops and spies for the majority of the game.
This game was initially supposed to release today May 16th! I now see on the Gale Force 9 website an early June release. I hope that this stays true as I am very excited about playing this game. If you have any more questions send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to find out the answer. I want to know more about this game! Until next time I’ll see you at the table.