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First Impressions - Voidfall, or: Let's Get Visual

After two multiplayer sessions I felt comfortable enough with the rules and icons to have a go at Voidfall solo. According to the users of BoardGameGeek this is the heaviest game I own, over Kanban EV or COIN games. I don't think it's that complex or difficult. It is a lot to take in when learning though. Voidfall is a crossover of a Science Fiction 4X game and an economic euro. It's a very thematic game, once you've don't have to look up the meaning of every icon and card.

Voidfall: scenario set up

The official rules explanation video is an hour long. It's good, but no way you are going to remember all that before your first play. You'll use a rulebook, a scenario book, a glossary and a four pages long icon cheat sheet to get going. The good news is that there there's some handholding and tips provided.

  1. If you want to play solo (or coop) it is recommended that you play a multiplayer session first.

  2. For your first game, play the provided tutorial scenario that gets slightly more involved every round. You could actually do this solo as there may not be that much player interaction anyway.

  3. All player characters (officially: Houses) have a short description of their strong points and a strategy suggestion printed on the back of their player sheet.

I did watch full playthroughs before my first session as well, and read the rulebook, scenariobook and some of the glossary, but that was mainly because I was going to explain the game to a friend. By playing the tutorial at your leasure, looking up things in the books when you get to them, you'd get a very good introduction. There's a lot of icons in this game, but once you get familiar with them they'll make the game run smoothly. For example, here's a board with the gameflow per round. You can just follow all steps. 😁

Voidfall: round overview

In a galaxy far, far away, a noble House was corrupted by the Voidborn, leading to great scientific breakthroughs but at a terrible price. You play as one of the other Houses, trying to get rid of the corruption and fight the Voidborn wherever they pop up.

There are three rounds in a game, and each starts with the drawing of a Galactic Event that has some direct effects and goals you'll score points for at the end of the round. You'll also have your own agendas to score, one dependent on the House you play, others that you decide to go for during the game.

Every round you'll have 4 to 6 turns, depending on the drawn Event card. On your turn you'll play a Focus card, which shows what you'll go for - for example "Conquest" or "Production". There are three actions on the card, you'll normally pick at most two of them (though there are ways to go for all three).

Voidfall: Focus cards

When playing solo (or coop) however, you'll first draw a Crisis card at the start of every turn. It will give you an objective to get rid of it and an alternative price to pay. If you can't or won't solve it during your turn, the card gets added to the Crisis board, causing a stronger opponent attackor an additional upkeep cost at the end of the round.

Voidfall: Crisis board

There's a lot of variety in the box. Lots of Houses that you can play as, lots of technologies you can research (and all of them are cool), event and crisis cards, several scenarios for every game mode - and then three difficulty levels for solo.

Even though you are not playing against an AI opponent as such, the Voidborn will score points at the end of the game, mainly depending on how well you've handled the crises and on how much presence they've got left on the board. So you can lose this game, and I certainly did. On the easy setting. There's so much to think about, and so much to learn.

Voidfall: player board at the end of my solo session

I've spoken about the steep learning curve, but for me it's worth it. I never felt like I was taking on too much (while some heavy euros are just too much for me). I didn't mention set up yet. I should though, because it might be an obstacle for some of you. It took me an hour those first few times. I can see this going down to 40 minutes, but it's involved. You have to copy a layout from the scenariobook and check every tile for a real small grey icon to see which ones you should get from the box. There's enough room on the set up page to have them listed (which would also help for checking their effects in the glossary), but this is a game that relies on your good eyesight and internalisation of iconography. Same for the Safe Havens in the solo games: you have to count how many holes there are in each pictured tile, to know what levels you need. Then there are twelve pages for general set up, with the rules for competitive, solo and coop all mixed together.

Now, my custom "extra thematic" set up for Eldritch Horror takes me even longer, but that's my favourite game. And it got more extensive through the years. Here it is like that right from the beginning, when you don't know yet how much you'r going to enjoy the game, so it's a real hurdle.

Voidfall on the table

The game depends on iconography and illustrations, in the manuals, the boards and the cards. It is also pleasing to the eye once set up on the table. A very visual game in many ways then.

I really enjoyed my first plays. For comparison: I have played games like Barrage and Kanban EV solo and don't feel like doing so again. But I did enjoy both the solo and competitive modes of Voidfall. I have played some 4X games, from Space Empires 4X to Last Light, and though I really like them, Voidfall brings something new with its euro mechanisms to prefer them even over them. Or, as a last comparison, I think Imperium (by the same designers) is a great deck-builder but I had way more trouble learning that game and the solo mode of Voidfall is so much more fun. Also, Imperium takes too long for what it brings, while Voidfall takes longer but has me involved all the time.

So yes, first impressions are very good. I'm looking forward to playing again.

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Apr 27

Love it! You just solidified that it will stay high on my wishlist. 😁

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