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In Search of the Mountain Goddess

Bordgue games are all the rage, and while some publishers announce their own spin on the matter, others directly draw from the source matter of that hype: rogue-like video games. We had Dead Cells last year, we now have Children of Morta: The Board Game, a tabletop adaptation of the eponymous video game, currently live on Kickstarter until the very end of the month (May 30).


Children of Morta: cover
Image source: Kickstarter

The source video game is actually a rogue-lite game: you alternate "runs" into dungeons full of enemies, where you grow in power thanks to some juicy perks, and when you die, or beat the dungeon, all is lost but a meta-progression implemented through a slow leveling up, permanent upgrades, and so on. I downloaded it (I had the nice surprise to see that it was already in my Steam library...), and it's pretty good, although most of its lifespan comes from the fact that you need to restart over and over the same procedurally generated levels.

As for the theme, you play as a weird Fantasy transposition of an autarchic Puritan American family, the Bergsons, strengthened by their faith and their family ties in a world darkened by a growing Corruption, and whose members (John, Kevin, Linda, Mark, Lucy) show incredible talent at slaying monsters, while the caring mother (Mary) remains busy with the household chores. The overall goal is to get to the top of Mount Morta to receive the word of the Goddess, but I didn't get far enough to know more about it.


Meet the family
Image source: Kickstarter

What about the board game? The board game retains the same structure of the original video game: you go into "runs" by exploring dungeons and fighting lots of enemies, and if you beat the chapter, you can get to the next, otherwise, you need to give it another go. In any case, you will get permanent upgrades, such as better versions of your action cards.


Set up
Image source: BGG

The core gameplay loop is pretty simple. You move across a map, revealing tiles that spawn enemies onto you. Then you get through an action phase where you draw colored tokens from a bag and use them to activate the action cards that compose your character board (the ones you upgrade across runs). This allows you to either build up focus (to lash out more powerful attacks), shield from enemy attacks or evade them, and deal damage of course! Finally, the enemies attack you, and dice are rolled to assess the damage you suffer. You may also find items and talents across your run that you can use besides your main character's actions.


Character board
Image source: BGG

What's the goal of a run, then? I couldn't quite figure that out from the rulebook - each chapter apparently comes with its own objective. In the first chapter, you simply need to get to the other side of the map.


Map
Image source: BGG

Personal opinion: This reminds me a lot of Heroes of Terrinoth, with enemies spawning on a regular basis and getting attached to your character, while you having limited actions on your turn to deal with the threat. However, Children of Morta looks simpler, faster, and adds the overall progression which may feel properly rewarding. It doesn't seem a very memorable game though, and while the video game sucks you in through its hectic fights and smooth controls, here you have but a very conventional action allocation scheme performed on a turn-by-turn basis.


Monsters
Image source: BGG

That said, I do enjoy some of their design choices. Rather than trying to transpose the delightful fights at the core of the video game, they focused on the rogue-lite structure, with the overall progression giving you the feeling that no play is for waste. I think it is well suited to the board game medium, which shows a good knowledge of what makes a board game viable. Another smart choice is the art direction: they dropped the pixel art of the original in favor of a more classical hand-drawn representation of the characters and enemies, which I believe is better suited to the board game medium.


Character boards
Image source: BGG

For these reasons, I lean toward backing it. However, Kickstarter being Kickstarter, I find myself facing a dilemma. The standard game is OK in terms of pricing, but then you add VAT and shipping, which makes it a poor deal (something close to 80€ for a very simple game with a few cards and some tokens). Moreover, I'd like the acrylic tokens, which I believe were a fantastic component upgrade for Warp's Edge, but they are locked in with the deluxe pledge full of stuff I don't care about, bringing the end total to 132€. It feels too expensive, and I am pretty sure I would have a happier time playing the video game.


Bling
Image source: Kickstarter

So, I definitely want it, but since I won't pay 50€ for acrylic tokens and some bling I have zero interest in, I feel incentivized to wait for a hypothetical retail release.



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3件のコメント


Gloomknight
Gloomknight
5月08日

Sounds great. I never played the video game but I might just pick it up on Steam which is for sale right now at $5.49. I like rogue-lite games. I may check out the kickstarter as well.

いいね!

JW
JW
5月07日

I'd want the acrylic tokens and the deluxe dice, so that would get ridiculous (over 140 euro). Looks fun. But I think I should look for games at most half that price at the moment 🙂

いいね!
Zerbique
Zerbique
5月07日
返信先

Actually, I've just read that they had partnered with Lucky Duck Games (so a French localization is guaranteed, even though I'd rather play the English version). Retail release is therefore to be expected and backing seems pointless.


I pledged $1 and will see what happens.

いいね!
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