Our preview post below was published on May 29.
Fall of the Mountain King is a stand-alone prequel to In the Hall of the Mountain King. This 1-4 players game features hybrid mechanics, combining tile-laying and pattern building with area control. You are playing as a Troll leader, trying to defend the Hall as fiercely as possible against the invading hordes of Gnomes. Although the invasion is bound to succeed (you reclaim the Hall in the previous game in the series), this last stand is your opportunity to prove yourself as leader of the Trolls for the hardships to come. It will launch on Kickstarter on June 1.
In the solo mode, your goal is to survive the first two waves and to outscore the Gnomes in the third. The main board is divided into seven domains, each tied to a specific Clan, with four caverns each. It also features great halls at the intersection of several caverns; these will be scored at the end. At the beginning of the game, you flip three cards, each representing a Clan domain, and place a Gnome token in the entry caverns of these domains. You then pick up two starting spots on the map and place three of your Troll units there, plus two units in adjacent domains.
Besides the main board, there is also a Clan board featuring a Vote track for each of the Clans. Moving further along these tracks will be critical to scoring points at the end of the game. At the beginning of the first two waves, you flip four Clan cards and put a token on the Clan symbols of this board to mark their associated domains as critical. At the end of these two waves, you must control at least one cavern in the critical domains, otherwise you lose the game!
The game takes place over three waves, consisting of a “Building Ancestry” phase, a Battle phase, and an Invasion phase. Your Ancestry is formed by grid-like cards featuring six spaces that may be empty or show a symbol. At the beginning of the game, you have one card in your Ancestry, plus another that covers two symbols of the first. Then, you draw four cards and choose one to place in your Ancestry, covering at least one existing symbol. You then draw three, place a second card, and draw two, place a third one. This drawing procedure is meant to emulate the drafting that takes place in the multiplayer game. When laying cards, the idea is to build clusters of symbols to enable you to take more powerful actions in the Battle phase. There are seven types of symbols: Elder (that only clutter your Ancestry, and cannot be covered up), Supplies (that allow you to take extra actions in the Battle phase), Wild (that you can use as your wish), and symbols for the four actions, Advance, Bolster, Influence and Gnomes.
In the Battle Phase, you spend your supplies to take actions. You start with a given number of supplies, depending on the current wave, and add one for each supply symbol showing in your Ancestry. Then, you can spend supplies to take either two weak actions or a strong one. To take a weak action, you cover the corresponding symbol in your Ancestry and perform it with a power of one. To take a strong action, you cover as many adjacent symbols of one type as you want with markers, and take that action with that much power.
Advance allows you to move a number of Trolls depending on the power of the action. You choose a destination for the move, and Trolls can come from as far as you wish, as long as they can go through a domain with at least one of your own Trolls before reaching the destination. If there are Gnomes tokens in your destination cavern, you flip them over to reveal their strength. If the number of Trolls matches or exceeds this strength, you wipe them out and gain one vote with the Clan to which the cavern belongs. If not, you get repelled: the Trolls come back to your Lair, and the Gnomes fortify their position, thus getting stronger!
Bolster adds a number of Trolls to a cavern you control as high as the action's power. Gnomes allow you to manipulate the Gnome wheel to reveal Gnome tokens and take additional actions, with the risk of triggering small mid-wave invasions. Influence is used to gain influence over a champion, a special unit that you can turn to your side at the end of a wave. Champions either come on the board with their own meeples, provide passive perks, or give you an instant ability.
After the Battle phase, the Invasion of the Gnomes begins! You flip cards over to see which domains are invaded. If the Gnomes meet Trolls on their path, a fight occurs and you remove Trolls and Gnome tokens in equal numbers. Then, you can be awarded Champion if you have garnered enough Influence.
If this is the third Wave, the final scoring begins once the Invasion is over. You will be calculating two scores, one for the Clans, and one for the Great Halls. You score each Clan separately. Each Clan comes with a threshold value: if you have that many votes or more, you score this value. Otherwise, the Gnomes score this value, minus your number of votes with that Clan. Then, you score each Great Hall separately: if you control more caverns surrounding a Hall than the Gnomes do, you get the Great Hall points' value, otherwise the Gnomes score this value (in case of a tie, no one gets the points). Note that both the Vote thresholds for the clans and the Great Halls values are unknown at the beginning of the game, and only get progressively revealed as the game goes by.
If you survive the first two waves and get a higher score than the Gnomes at the end of the third, then you have proven your skills as a Leader and can shepherd the Seven Clans as you set out for exile!