Disney Gargoyles: Awakening Board Game Review

Disney’s 90s animated series Gargoyles helped set a new standard for animated storytelling complex villains, serialized episodes and deep narrative arcs. The show would provide excellent material for a story-driven game, but unfortunately that’s not what Ravensburg’s Disney Gargoyles: Awakening delivers. Almost completely without fluff or flavor text, the game relies on fans filling in the blanks on what happens in a game session and why they should worry.

The cover of Gargoyles: The Awakening Rulebook contains the voiceover text from the show’s introduction, which explains that 1,000 years ago, Gargoyles were betrayed by people they had sworn to protect and were frozen in stone. In the modern day of 1994, the enchantment that had bound them was broken in Manhattan. While this concept provides a tempting intro to the show’s fantasy world and its characters, it’s actually where the narrative stops in play. It’s a real shame because the concept of letting players merge into scenarios based on favorite episodes of the series is amazing.

The game includes three fully collaborative missions and a scenario where one player takes on the role of the ingenious mastermind David Xanatos to fight off everyone else, but there is no explanation as to why anything happens. You could probably show your friends the episode “Reawakening” where Xanatos and the evil gargoyle wizard Demona team up to build a gargoyle cyborg named Coldstone before playing through the Reawakening mission so they know why Coldstone stays on with switching sides and striking out at its creators, but it’s completely bizarre that they do not just have a plot explanation somewhere that one can read aloud. Ideally, each episode would also have a concluding text based on whether the heroes succeed or fail. The storytelling of Gargoyles has withstood the test of time, but the designers of Gargoyles: Awakening could really have taken some notes from modern board games like Gloomhaven or Descent.

The game relies on fans filling in the blanks on what happens in a game session and why they should worry.

Mechanically, the game is fast and intuitive, with players controlling one of the heroic gargoyles from the Manhattan clan or their human ally Elisa. Each character has their own unique powers and a set of hero cards that mechanically resemble a very simplified version of Sentinels of the Multiverse. Heroes typically get three actions per. turn, which can be moving or making a basic attack or using cards with different power and efficiency to make the game a little more dynamic.

Once you get a feel for each character’s abilities and synergies, you may end up with some pretty powerful combinations that can trigger a series of very damaging attacks or strengthen your allies with more actions when they need them. However, the effectiveness of most of the characters is very much dependent on the scenario. Broadway’s focus on healing combined with his slow pace of movement makes him awful in the race-like “Information Warfare,” while Hudson’s card, which harms all adjacent enemies, is much better in a scenario where there are plenty of minions.

The gameplay is very much in the way of a challenge, so sub-optimal team tasks are more likely to make players bored than to make you lose the game. The villains have the same amount of health no matter how many players you have, so they tend to drop quickly. Although there are some tricks for the various targets, such as the “Information Warfare” mission, which involves a silly game of catching floppy disks, most missions just turn into slug parties, where the heroes try to knock out the villains before one of the good guys go down. . This usually boils down to just throwing dice and making basic attacks because it is often more effective than trying to make complex moves by playing cards. The provision that players lose if even a single hero falls seems like it should make things harder, but if you cooperate at all, it’s pretty easy to protect your vulnerable characters.

Even one against many scenario “Battle with the Steel Clan” does not do too much to increase the difficulty. The player who controls Xanatos is given some choice as to which cards to play, as opposed to only being lucky in the draw, which keeps him from playing completely worthless games. Still, the villain fell rather trivially in my one-on-one battle against Goliath, after the gargoyle leader came in and grabbed the magic object Odin’s eye, which gives the player an extra action each turn. You lose your goods if you take damage, but since picking up an item again costs an action, this pays for itself. Xanatos can not even pick it up itself to prevent you from enjoying the benefit.

Gargoyles: Awakening looks pretty good, with an impressive map of Manhattan covered with landmarks from the show, such as the gargoyles’ eyrie and the police bell tower. The towering size of the eyri is actually a problem as once it is assembled it no longer fits in the box and it would be quite annoying to separate it between games.

Not that there is much replayability for Gargoyles: Awakening. Once you’ve played through each of the episodes, it does not feel like making sense to do them again with new characters because the piles are so small that you have probably already seen what each character is capable of. Missions are short and take about 30 minutes to play through, so you can easily complete the entire game in a single encounter. But you would probably be better off just watching four actual episodes of Gargoyles.

Where can it be bought

Disney Gargoyles: Awakening is exclusively available at Target for an MSRP of $ 29.99.

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