Kickstart This! #248: Dead Reckoning

Designer:  John D. Clair (Ecos: First Continent, Mystic Vale, Space Base)

Artist: Ian O’Toole (Age of Steam, Black Angel, CO2: Second Chance, Escape Plan, The Gallerist, Lisboa, Nemo’s War Second Edition, On Mars, Pipeline, Stockpile, Vinhos Deluxe Edition)

Publisher:  Alderac Entertainment Group (Automobiles, Cat Lady, Guildhall, Istanbul, Istanbul: The Dice Game, Love Letter, Love Letter: Batman, Love Letter Premium, Mystic Vale, Point Salad, Smash Up, Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000, Smash Up: It’s Your Fault, Smash Up: Monster Smash, Smash Up: Pretty Pretty Smash Smash, Smash Up: Science Fiction Double Feature, Space Base, Thunderstone, Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin, Thunderstone: Dragonspire, Thunderstone Quest, Tiny Towns, Trains, Trains: Rising Sun, Valley of the Kings, War Chest)

Genre/Mechanisms: area majority/influence, area movement, cube tower, deck building, exploration, modular board, solo/solitaire game, territory building

Funding Status: At the time of this posting, Dead Reckoning is already fully-funded. In fact, pledges currently total more than 12x the initial funding goal with 5 days left to go on the campaign!

Player Count: 1-4

Solo Mode:  yes

Complexity: heavy

Risk: low

What It’s About: “A game of exploration, piracy, and influence based in a Caribbean-esque setting. Each player commands a ship and crew and seeks to amass the greatest fortune. They do this through pirating, trading, treasure hunting, and (importantly) capturing and maintaining control over the uninhabited but resource-rich islands of the region.”

How It Works: “Players take turns, one after another. Your turn consists of two phases. During the Main phase, where all the action of your turn happens, you perform a number of different actions, including moving your Ship, loading and unloading cargo, playing cards and using their abilities, and buying Advancements or resolving Encounters. In the Cleanup phase, after you have done all of your actions, it’s time to sleeve your new Advancements, draw new cards and reset the board ready for the next player’s turn. Optionally, you can also raise your pirate flag. When your turn is over, you will level-up a card in your hand while your opponents are taking their turns.”

“There are three types of battle: Player Ship vs. Non-Player Ship, Player Ship vs. Player Ship, and Player Ship vs. Building battles. Cannons and Battle abilities contribute to winning battles. It is possible to get into multiple battles on your turn but each Cannon and Battle ability may only be used once per turn. If you plan on fighting multiple battles on your turn, you will need to decide how many Cannons and Battle abilities to use in your first battle and how many to save for further battles. You may never battle the same Ship, Building, or Non-player more than once in a turn. For example, if you move into an Ocean board with an opponent’s Ship in Pirate mode and battle them, you may not then choose to attack that Ship later in the same turn.”

“Battles are resolved using the following steps: Take Battle cubes, Drop Battle cubes, Resolve Battle abilities, Resolve the Battle ship, and Determine the outcome.” These vary slightly depending on which of the 3 battle-types are involved. In general, step one has each involved player using cubes based on the number of cannons on their ship board along with any cards showing cannon icons they choose to discard from their hand. Step two combines the player cubes with the number of black battle cubes printed on the back of the Encounter card. The cubes are dropped onto the Battle Ship in a “neutral manner,” and any exploding shots are immediately resolved. Players may then use Battle abilities in any order they so choose, beginning with the active player if two players are involved. Players then resolve the iconography where their various cubes have landed, including Plunder, Damage, and Battle Strength, which determines the winner. Then the losing ship takes 1 damage, switching to Mercantile mode if it was in Pirate mode, and the victorious ship earns a cube placed on the Legendary Achievement if it does not already have the title.”

“At the end of your turn, if you have 4 or more Achievement markers placed on the Harbor board, the end of the game is triggered. Each other player gets one final turn, and then the game ends (the player who triggered the end does not get an additional turn). Each player should still draw new cards as normal at the end of their final turn, and can level up as normal, as those cards can be used in possible battles. After a player has taken their final turn, their Influence cubes on islands now require two “place influence” actions by opponents to replace them instead of one. Also, if a player who has taken their final turn is involved in a battle, they get 2 additional Battle cubes in the battle. After all players have taken their final turn, add up their remaining Coins.”

During Final Scoring, players earn Coins for Achievements; score the Coins in their Treasure Chest, on their Ship, and on islands they control; earn 1 Coin for each Building on each island they control; earn 1 Coin for each Basic Ship Upgrade and 2 Coins for each Advanced Ship Upgrade; earn Coins for effects of their Advancements as printed; and earn Coins for the first-third place finishers in area majority on each island, according to the top right of the Ocean Board. The player with the most total Coins wins, with any ties resolved by players dumping a number of cubes (determined by all of their Cannon icons) on the Battle Ship and evaluating the results.

Achievements in Final Scoring include: Legendary (win 4 non-Building ship battles), Expert Sailors (3 cards of level 4), Terror of the Sea (sink a ship), Builder (own 5 or more buildings), Capitalist (30 or more Coins in your Treasure Chest), Settler (6 or more permanent cubes across islands), Elite Vessel (4 ship upgrades), Explorer (explore 5/4/3 spaces, in a 2/3/4 player game), and Master Merchant (simultaneously return 12 Cargo tokens from your Ship and/or Dock tile back to the supply).

Comparisons: In the rulebook, designer John D. Clair specifically credits Ascension, Dominion, Edge of Darkness, Mystic Vale, Splendor, Scythe, and Wallenstein as inspirations and influences for various elements of Dead Reckoning’s design. Another comparison is Seafall, which shares ship exploration and ship combat, although Dead Reckoning is not a legacy game.

What Should I Pledge?:
$79 Deck Hand: a copy of the Dead Reckoning base game.
$109 Legendary Captain: a copy of the Dead Reckoning base game, plus all content unlocked in the Daily Discovery (stretch goals).
$139 All Gameplay Pledge: everything in the Legendary Captain pledge, plus Saga 2: Salt & Thunder Expansion.
$179 All-In Reward: everything in the All Gameplay Pledge, plus the Metal Coins Add-On, Upgraded Cargo Add-On, and Promo Cards Add-On.

$30 Custom Metal Coins (includes 80 coins; already included in the All-In Reward)
$15 Upgraded Cargo (includes 30 Barrels & 10 Crates; already included in the All-In Reward)
$45 Saga 1: Deep Legends (already included in the Legendary Captain and higher pledge levels)
$45 Saga 2: Salt and Thunder (already included in the All Gameplay Pledge and higher pledge levels)
$7 Promo Cards: includes 1 Tiny Towns Promo Card, 1 Santa Monica Promo Card, 1 Cat Lady Promo Card, 1 Smash Up Promo Card, and 6 Space Base Promo Cards.

KS Exclusives
The entire project is a Kickstarter Exclusive and will not be headed for retail.

All-In Total: In the continental U.S., you’re looking at $179 for the All-In Reward plus $25 in shipping for a total of $204.

Dead Reckoning completes its Kickstarter on Friday, July 31st and tentatively ships in May 2021.

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