Exciting times; Joan of Arc has arrived, so I thought I would share the unboxing experience of this epic game.
Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, designed by Pascal Bernard, is a ‘narrative miniatures board game’ set in time of the Hundred Years War, and meshes history with legend; take on the might of the English or French Armies, or maybe a few of the creatures that appeared in common myth at that time. Think of it as part war-game, part adventure game; add a bit of role-playing and you might be getting near!
I was a late backer to this, early last year, and as delays rolled on Mythic Games opted to release the game in two waves – this is the first of the two.
In this wave I have the core game along with the reliquary box, which is basically to hold all the extra stretch goals and such like. I’ve still got a few more boxes to come in wave two later this year.
I have yet to take a peek inside, hopefully all is well – the boxes were very well packed and cellophane wrapped.
Please note that the intended retail core game will differ in respect to the Kickstarter edition.
Starting with the core box, and it isn’t far off Gloomhaven proportions, coming in at 43x31x13cm and weighing 5.4kg!
It’s a nice solid box with some lovely atmospheric artwork – I like the Angel sweeping over the battlefield in the background – and I think the matte linen finish works well with the theme.
Taking off the lid we find…
Now that’s how a box should be packed, nothing’s going anywhere in there – safe as houses!
Starting from the top – there’s a bag containing 24 dice, and reading what others have said, I really wish I’d added an extra set to my pledge; apparently this just isn’t enough, though that tends to be a common failure across the board game industry – not including enough dice.
They do appear to be of reasonable quality though, and five dice of one colour is just a nice handful!
There are four sets of five dice – white, yellow, black, and red, with each colour giving slightly different odds on what you can roll – these are used for attack and defence. There are three ‘giant’ purple dice, used for gigantic attacks by certain beasts, and one cream coloured die, the ‘doom die,’ which is used to decide whether your disrupted units are going to return to the battle.
Then there’s a bag containing four sets of wooden cubes – yellow, grey, blue, and green. I like wooden game pieces, though these are a little on the light side, but I can’t see that causing any issues – just don’t sneeze!
Tucked nicely into the corner of the box are five sets of cards.
There are two packs of oversized cards, one of which contains discussion cards that have questions on one side and their answers on the other – I don’t want to delve to far into them as I don’t want to spoil anything, either for myself or those of you who are reading this.
It’s good to see that these cards have a nice clear and large font, especially as some of them contain a fair amount of text.
Also contained within this deck are some of the ‘character’ cards, such as Barral de Ponteves, Saint Martha, and a standard Mounted Hero. Again the cards are clear and easy to read – there is some symbology on them but it appears to be pretty standard stuff.
The artwork varies, but on average is pretty reasonable, with the odd image here and there being particularly striking, such as the Swamp Witch or the Tarasque.
Skimming through I also noticed a few cards relating to scenarios, such as The Battle of Crecy and Troyes by Faith. These are Intrigue cards and differ depending upon which side you are playing.
Opening the other pack of oversized cards I find more character cards, some single sided, some double.
One of the things that attracted me to this game was its historical setting, even if it is at times combined with mythology, and there is a wealth of historical figures represented here – Charles II, The Black Prince, John of Lancaster, William de la Pole, and many, many more; of course, there’s also Joan of Arc! It’s just a pity there is no flavour text, though I suppose that would have cluttered the cards.
The next deck I open is not quite standard playing card size, and flipping through it is obviously the unit cards; these are similar in presentation to the hero cards and cover units like the Mounted Knights, Pikemen, and Halberdiers. There are also cards representing individuals such as Peasants, and the Blacksmith, along with a few for beasts and monsters, such as Ghosts and skeletons.
Even with their smaller size they too are clear and easy to read, but let’s see what the mini sized cards have to offer…
Opening both packs I discover numerous sets of cards contained within; there’s war council, legend, equipment and round cards. Many have symbology on them, others contain text, but once again all are easy to read. There’s nothing worse than having cards that are illegible to those of us with less than perfect eyesight, not only does it slow the game down but you find yourself edging towards the nearest light source and developing a lopsided squint – none of that here I’m pleased to say!
All of the above cards appear to be good quality, if a little on the thin side (shouldn’t be an issue if they spend most of their time on the table), and have a gloss finish.
Time to open a box, and I’ve chosen the smaller square box – excitement mounts!
Now then, these are quite impressive; a selection of four buildings – two small cottages, a large church, and what looks like a country house.
These are made of thick plastic and are pretty solid; the level of detailing isn’t too bad either, and they should paint up quite nicely if you’re that way inclined.
I especially like the detailing on the roofs, each slate is depicted differently on the houses, whilst the church is uneven, as though it has a beam or two on the way out – nice!
Next box, and this time the larger square(ish) one.
There are some miniatures in here and the unit bases, along with the coloured discs that clip around them for identification purposes. The miniatures are well contained in a contoured plastic tray.
There are four Angel miniatures, and they’re nicely detailed, especially the wings – one is a little bent but a little hot water treatment should sort that out. I don’t think they’ll require much in the way of prep before painting either.
There is also the Archangel Gabriel, again very nicely detailed, two bullock carts (the carts do separate from the bullocks), and a Unicorn.
Last, but definitely not least, there is the Tarasque. This isn’t a bad sculpt, but not, in my opinion, as good as the angels. There’s a fair bit of work to be done here before painting – mould lines and gaps to fill – but it will certainly make an impact on the board.
Of the unit bases there are 16 that hold two miniatures, and 44 that hold three. They are sturdy grey plastic and don’t bend.
The coloured discs – red, blue, white, and black – fit snugly around the bases, but the main concern here is are there going to be enough of each colour? They also come in three different sizes to fit a range of units and characters.
Opening the next, long rectangular box, I find two trays of miniatures. The top tray contains characters, along with cavalry units and halberdiers.
For 15mm scale miniatures one wouldn’t expect a great level of detail, but these aren’t too bad at all – the detailing they have is enough to give the miniatures plenty of character without being too laborious to paint. Some of the figures will require a bit of prep though, especially the cavalry units, as there are plenty of mould lines to clean up.
The characters are all individually posed, as represented on their respective card, and quite charismatic – these should be a joy to paint. The shields on these characters are plain, ready for a decal to be added, and indeed there are two sheets within this box.
Having taken a few out of the tray to photograph, I can see it isn’t going to be easy figuring out where they all go back, especially if you’re using a fair amount of them!
The miniatures in the bottom tray are packed by type in sealed bags. Each bag and tray is numbered, just in case they get muddled up before you open them, something I’m not going to do right now.
There are wolves, peasantry armed with clubs, crossbowmen, men-at-arms with axes, lots of bowmen, swordsmen, pikemen, skeletons (which I particularly like), and something that I can quite recognize through the bag, but looks like a knight shrouded in flames!
There are enough miniatures here to start your own 15mm army, something else that appealed with this game – if nothing else, I can use the figures for a spot of wargaming!
The last box in the base game box contains some scenery, and the trees are pretty neat.
There are some bushes, walls, stakes, rocks, a well, shrine, and a ruin. All of these are of a pretty good standard, with a nice amount of detail – the stakes for example are joined together by a chain.
Also within the core box are two playing aids, which look pretty comprehensive. They cover the round phase, dice results, resolving attacks, terrain and its effects, and a list of all the icons and skills. They are fairly detailed player aids; let’s just hope they contain all the vital elements.
Then there are ten, really thick, punchboards of tokens, player boards, and hexes. The quality of the board appears, and certainly feels, very good – it certainly seems to be thicker than you’d normally associate with a board game.
The terrain hexes appear to be varied – they are segmented, some with two or three segments; the number of units is limited depending upon the area – a hex with one area holds 8 standard units, whereas a hex with 3 areas holds 4 standard units per area.
I like the graphics, most of the colours are muted, but I kind of like that, and everything is quite pleasing on the eye – there are even some standee bonfires!
Lastly in this box are the rule and scenario books – and I mean books, no little pamphlets here!
The rules come in at 32 pages, but there are plenty of pictures and the font is a goodly size too, so all-in-all, it isn’t so bad.
Right at the start there’s a helpful breakdown of all the components, including identification of the characters and heroes, which is much needed to be able to tell who’s who!
Flipping through, it’s fairly standard stuff; there are rules for using buildings, each having an overlay for when people enter them (a great idea); there are terrain and hex limitations; Using discussion cards, intrigue, movement and attack… and so on.
There are a host of actions that can be taken dependant upon the unit or character; some interesting ones are recruit civilian, discuss, prayer, and engineer, though at this point I don’t know enough about the game to go into more detail.
As I mentioned above, you can enter buildings, which should prove interesting, and you can also use flying units – there are sky tiles that these units use when flying; they can deploy rapidly around the board, though it does make them a target for missile troops.
I’d like to think all these rules are fairly intuitive, but I’ve a feeling this game is going to take a plenty of time and patience to get fully conversant with.
The scenario book contains a dozen scenarios, starting with an introductory scenario, Du Guesclin at the Siege of Rennes, and each scenario appears to play quite differently having special scenario specific rules to apply.
Each scenario has a difficulty rating, and the number of players required varies though most are for at least 2-players, with the odd one for 3. Each contains a detailed set-up procedure, and they all look quite interesting; several caught my eye as an old historical wargamer, the battle of Crecy in particular.
That’s it for the base game, time to open up the Reliquary box…
Right on top there’s a booklet that contains 5 new scenarios, one of which, No More Room in Hell, is playable solo. It also has a miniatures reference on the back cover to help identify some of the new miniatures.
There are four more packs of cards, which contain new unit and character cards, though only two of these are applicable, the other two are for the French speakers, as the Reliquary box was not created language dependant. The cards follow the same format as those within the core box, though there is also a deck of AI cards to be used in the solo scenario.
Okay, going straight for the big square box we find… The Beast!
Bare in mind that this is a 15mm scale game; the beast measures 200mm, so you get an idea of how massive this thing is – it weighs just shy of 600g!
It isn’t the greatest of sculpts though; the detail is pretty basic and there are some hefty gaps to fill, but all said and done it should look magnificent once painted and swooping down upon your enemies troops.
The smaller rectangle box contains, as expected, some of the unit and character miniatures. The Reliquary introduces the Ottoman Empire to the game, and here we find their cavalry units, heroes, and what appears to be a small canon!
The Great Reaper figure (yes Great, not Grim!) is a lovely sculpt, and my favourite in this tray; there’s also a mounted Joan of Arc figure.
And in the final box we discover three large miniatures (when does a miniature become too big to be called a miniature?), and the rest of the unit minis; just as in the core box they’re all bagged up.
The three larger miniatures are the Cockatrice, the Griffin, and my favourite of them all, Mehmed the Conqueror, on his flying carpet being carried by his trust Djinni. This miniature is very good indeed, from the detailing on the carpet to the musculature of the Djinni, it’s the best sculpt (in my opinion) of the two boxes, and I can’t wait to get it painted.
Interestingly, I scanned through all the scenarios and was unable to find one that incorporates the Griffin, though it’s always possible that I missed it.
Anyway, it’s time to put it all back in the box – I’ll be looking to get it to the table over the weekend, and that just leaves me to finish with my conclusions…
Okay, before I got around to writing this conclusion I managed to get a game or two in, well, four actually!
I’m not going to go into the game play or anything here, I’ll save that for a review, but I will add a few observations about the components.
Overall this appears to be a well-produced game, and Mythic have put a lot of thought into how it all fits in the box, at least initially. Everything is very well packed, and I especially like the individual boxes contained within both the core and reliquary, they certainly helped protect everything during the long trawl from China.
I was pretty impressed with the miniatures, especially the small 15mm ‘human folk’, which have a good level of detail, but not too much to cause a headache when painting them all.
It is a pain trying to find everything though, and you’ll want to sort out a more user-friendly method of storing all those minis.
The tokens, hexes, and what not, all punched out very easily, and really are very good quality, as are the cards.
Having played the game now, I can definitely state that more dice are required, at least another five of each colour, but probably more if you intend to play three players+.
I also found that the player aids, though fairly detailed, could have done with the inclusion of all the actions and bonus actions that units and characters can take.
Likewise, each scenario could have done with a required components list, as you have to read through all the special rules trying to figure out what you require as you go.
I would also have liked to see a little more history contained within the books – a brief overview of the Hundred Years War, as well as a little background and outcome of the historic scenarios, but other than that I found the core rules fairly straightforward; the problems start when trying to decipher the special scenario rules, but that’s for a review…
There are a few issues but Mythic appear to be on top of everything; there’s a few missing miniatures, which they are addressing in wave 2, and there’s a few card errors that at the moment has being picked up in an Errata. I have every faith in Mythic that everything will be resolved satisfactorily.
The last thing I will say is, it looks fabulous on the table! It has a presence that attracts attention, and indeed, it even drew my daughter into playing – She commented on the fact that it was nice to be able to play the Evil side for once; typical 13 year old, eh!