Harsh Shadows is a solitaire game about chasing a spy through a grid of locations – however, catching up with the spy will only be useful if you can convict him with the support of all the relevant evidence. It is now live on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 11 days. You may pledge for one or more copies of the game, or buy it as a PnP.
You set up the game by placing the Location cards in a 3x3 grid, and a Discovery card next to each location. Next, you set up the “Case files”: you randomly select three item cards to serve as the “Evidence”, one for the “Red Herring”, and four for the “False Leads”. These are all face down at the beginning of the game. To win, you will have to gather all “Evidence” items into your tableau, while avoiding the “Red Herring” card. You then place your Agent at the bottom right corner of the location grid.
On your turn, you first move your agent to a new location and draw the top discovery card that is found there. It may be a bomb (in which case you must discard a card from your tableau), an item (that you must add to your tableau), or a Clue. If you did not draw a bomb, you can now freely perform additional actions: spend clues to reveal one item card from the different “Case files” (Evidence, Red Herring or False Leads), each with a different cost; you can place a tracking bug in your location that the spy will trigger if he goes through that location; track the spy once he got the bug (that is, reveal its next movement card); or use the location ability.
Next, the spy gets a move: you flip the next card of his movement card deck which specifies where he will move next. If he moves into your location, you must discard a card from your tableau. A new discovery card is added next to the location. If there is none left to add, the Spy will attempt to escape. Each turn he moves into a location with no discovery card left next to it, the time track goes down one notch: after four times, the Spy successfully escapes and you lose the game.
You lose the game if the Spy escapes, or if you are forced to discard a card from your tableau while you have none left. To win, you must first have the Spy trigger the tracking bug; then, you must arrest him by moving into his location. You then check all the items you’ve found throughout the different locations. If you have all three Evidence items displayed in the Case Files, and if you don’t have the Red Herring item, then you win! You lose the game otherwise. Difficulty can be increased by adding an additional Red Herring item instead of a False Lead one and/or removing the “double clue” card.