This post starts with a *sigh*. My initial intention was to write my impressions after playing The Last Knight campaign for Tainted Grail, and, why not, follow it up with the Age of Legends campaign. Alas, it was not meant to be or, to be precise, I cut it short.
I received this expansion -which was part of the basic pledge and therefore a 'freebie'- a few months ago and left the giant box sitting in my room all this time. I played Tainted Grail last year, and while it was like no other game I had experienced before, it made me decide I don't want to play another storybook game again. Yes, the story is well-written and I suspect much better-written than in most other games of this type, but the problem is that the game part comes second.
You are forced to take a break from the story to enact a fight or diplomatic encounter which may or may not be worth the trouble in terms of rewards. The mechanism that drives these encounters -forming a chain of cards with matching symbols- isn't bad, and the game gives you a chance to build a better deck as you go, but it often feels like a distraction and even an annoyance, as your hero may get badly injured - at the expense of continuing the story.
I normally don't mind losing in games, in fact, I almost welcome it, as it motivates me to play my games again and again. Not in this case, however, and not whenever a painfully long exploration and map journey is taking place, like for example in The 7th Continent. These are games in which losing is never fun. In video games, when a fight kills your hero, you can save the scene before the fight, preserve any progress you have made, and just replay the fight. In these board games, though, resetting isn't so easy and it doesn't feel good either.
The Last Knight doesn't have the same level of grinding that the base game did, presumably because the designers listened to the complaints of the fans. The artwork is very nice, and the overall production value is of the high quality that we have come to expect from Awaken Realms. Sadly, I eventually lost all interest in my character's personal goals (Sloan). He didn't have much purpose in life anyway (I saw myself in him), and embarked on quests to create his personal legend (this ends our affinity). I reached Chapter 12 (out of 15), and just didn't want to move any further. I caught myself being 'jealous' of JW who has been playing normal gamey games, and aching to learn and play my freshly received copy of Apex Theropod.
This means the campaigns will be packed back into their big boxes, and the adventure of finding them a new owner will begin. I intend to offer both for a steal, as shipping two heavy boxes kills the deal completely. If you live in Europe and would like to get them -in 'like new' condition- let me know. I haven't entirely regretted purchasing Tainted Grail, but it sure was an Awakening call for anything I decide to add to my collection from now on.