1-4 players, Competitive, Wasteland Mutant Tile Laying
Designer: Gordon Calleja
Artwork: Mark Casha, Arjuna Susini
Publisher: Mighty Boards
Release Year: 2019
Note: Review contains Deluxe Edition pieces
I’m a little behind on times apparently as I JUST heard about this game a few weeks ago. And this just ever so slightly bothers me because I am a HUGE fan of post-apocalyptic themes *cough Fallout *weez The Book of Eli *snort. It seems there is another game just titled “Posthuman” that was release a few years back as well. WELP, I’m here now and have spent many an hour delving into this game just for you. In any case, I was wandering into my FLGS a few weeks ago and saw this on the shelf. It was the Deluxe Kickstarter version and I mean I DO go wild for some nice deluxe components so I was instantly intrigued. Picked it up, ooooo the box is heavy, nice niceeeeeeeee. Flipped it over and read the back and made up my mind right there that I had to have it. Now that I’ve had quite a bit of time to play through it a few times, read on to see what I think!
Overview of Gameplay
In Posthuman Saga you are playing as a survivor that must lay claim to specific areas before your opponents to gain the most points. You can think of the game as a kinda “race” game in that sense and you would be right. I view it as an “Efficiency Race” myself as you have to make the best decisions with what is thrown at you BEFORE the other players. Because of this player order is a critical mechanism in this game.
The standard “round” will first have all players suffer one fatigue IF they cannot eat some food. Each round basically makes up one day in the life of a standard wasteland survivor and these survivors gotta eat! Once that delicious business is taken care of you will flip the next round token over to see if you resolve a story encounter based on what is flipped. If it’s a character token then the player next to that player draws a story token from the bag, finds the corresponding number in the story book and reads the encounter to the player. The player will then usually make a decision and perform a test to see how they fare and then collect a reward or have something devious happen to them.
Next, players will either execute a “broadcast” or an “event” based on the round you are playing. Events are simple enough with a player drawing the top event card and resolving whatever it says, some bad, some good. Now a broadcast is where the game gets a little juicy, determining the player order. You see at the start of the game there are 5 of these broadcast tokens for each player BUT only 2 of them are available for use with the other three being “exhausted”. During a broadcast players will all take into their hand a certain amount of their available tokens, basically the amount they want to bid for the honor of first in player order. Whoever bids the most takes that coveted spot with ties basically negating each other and keeping the order the same. Once the bidding is done and the new order is set, players will, in order, select one set of location tile and scavenger token to take from the display on the board. This is why player order is so important because these location tiles are directly tied to certain terrain types that players are working towards controlling for those early bonus points.
After the broadcast or event is finished players will take turns in player order selecting one action from their hand of four action cards and performing said action. These actions are “Camp” – you set up camp for the night! Using up to 4 points recovering a variety of different areas such as health, morale or even those challenge cards to name but a few. Next up is “Forage” – This allows you to move around to the different tiles and then collect a resource depending on which tile you stop at. You can also attempt a mind challenge to try and attain some sweet, sweet bonus loot. After that is “Map” – this one gives you a choice, either recover two of your spent broadcast tokens or refresh the map queue. After either choice you will then take one of the paired location tiles and scavenge tokens, adding them both to your hand. AND THEN you can place any number of terrain tiles you have down on open adjacent areas around where you current are. Oh, it doesn’t end there folks. After that you can go ahead and whip down some scavenge tokens on said open location tiles around you. AND THEN…..well that’s it for that one. Finally, the last action you could take is the “Trek” action. This little beast of an action is the primary way you will be completing you overall goals of the game. When performing this action, you get to move and then where ever you stop you immediately perform a combat encounter, drawing up a random combat card and battling it out. If you survive the encounter you not only get the reward but you may then place one of your mission tokens on that tile.
After all players have completed all their actions the night phase trots on up where players can spend the experience they have earned through their battles. You also refresh the map queue plopping down some new location tiles and scavenger tokens for the next round. After that the rounds start anew! This will continue until a player has worked their way through all their mission objectives and encountered and defeated the mutant boss. That will trigger the end of the game once the round is over OR if this hasn’t happened by the end of round 16 the game will end then. There is a bit of a final scoring to be done on top of what players have already scored through the regular gameplay and then whoever has the most VP’s wins the game!
To be honest I was expecting a bit more in the components department, especially considering I went in for the “Deluxe” edition. The quality of the components is pretty good overall BUT there are just some head scratching decisions with them. The biggest complaint I have are the deluxe resource tokens. In the deluxe version they have been upgraded to small plastic representations of the items. So instead of round cardboard tokens with a picture of a bullet you now have a small plastic pair of bullets or little half cans of food etc. These LOOK really cool don’t get me wrong but they are a BEAST to actually use when playing the game. First off, they are tiny AND have rounded edges so good look picking these things up without making a mess of everything in the attempt. Secondly, they just don’t work with the player board at all. The player boards have small rounded areas dedicated for the resource tokens ie: the basic cardboard ones. So, when using the retail tokens this works out great! But try stacking a couple of those plastic cans of food on top of each other. You will very quickly have a pile of plastic tokens scattered around your player boards and for those players that like to keep a neat area, this is just ugh. LUCKILY, the deluxe version does come with the basic cardboard pieces as well!
Another gripe I have is with the player boards themselves. Now, these things are pretty cool as they utilize little plastic pegs that plug into holes in the boards to keep track of your health, morale and xp much like the Fallout boardgame does. Where this goes horribly wrong however is the fact that the pegs are NOT secure in these holes at all. A slight bump and they can topple over and out of their respective holes. Basically, the part that goes into the holes just needs to be a llliiitttleee longer or thicker to hold them secure.
Now the rest of the stuff is excellent! The deluxe scavenger tokens have a really nice feel and weight to them and even though it doesn’t DO anything, I really like the little cardboard fortress you get with the deluxe edition. It just sits there in the middle of the board propping up the terrain tiles but it adds that much need “life” to the board that it lacks. Speaking of the board, it’s a very functional board with the vp tracker and card sections and all that but, it’s a very drab board to behold. Just a straight brown color, that is until you get your terrain tiles plopped down to give it a little more life, which I suppose is the point. In any case the cardboard fortress helps it out quite a bit. The dice are REALLY nice custom dice with some bright vivid coloring and I especially like the “numbered” dice that utilize claw marks instead of pips (even though I almost thought I didn’t have any numbered dice because of those). Oh, and the minis! There are only a handful to depict the characters you can play as but they look good with some decent detail.
The box storage solution is pretty good with the base game! It has a good insert which has dedicated spaces for ALL the cards including the mini sized versions. There are spaces for the minis and open areas to place the tokens within bags and spots to place the player boards snugly. Everything fits in pretty nicely…..unless you try to add in the deluxe stuff as well. I had some trouble placing the two bags of story and scavenger tokens back in the box with everything else although the deluxe version does come with another smaller box to hold that stuff.
Visual Appeal /Theme
To be honest there wasn’t much that stood out for me with the theme or visuals. I mean, it’s post-apocalyptic which is already enough to get me on board. But for any one looking for an epic story or some deeper, richer theme, you should probably look elsewhere. Now, the artwork on the cards is done very well and I do enjoy gandering at those but much of everything else is bland and drab. There is a bit of a backstory following the Posthuman theme but it mostly boils down to survivors venturing out of the fortress in search of resources and completing basic quests, nothing crazy deep or exciting honestly.
So first off, the rulebook has a nice Table of Contents right on the front page which is excellent. That said, I am not a fan of the way it is organized and set up. It’s not until page 12 that it starts teaching how to play the game, flooding you with information about how all the parts to the game work beforehand. I’ve always struggled with this kind of rulebook personally as I need to be playing the game going through the motions to REALLY understand the mechanisms. The setup section is done pretty good though, with a nice picture of the board and numbered sections to point out where everything goes.
Also learning the combat was a CHORE. This is my biggest complaint to be honest, even though there is a full 2-page spread explaining it. The combat in this game is excessive to say the least, overly complicated which just kills the fun for me. When you resolve a combat encounter you first have to pick a card from your remaining challenge cards to use as your base card. THEN, you randomly draw another to see if you got enough of a certain ranged icon to damage based on your used weapon….which is a whole other story. Then you mix that card back in and draw again for the melee attack and the combat changes rules during this portion of the fight. Each enemy will roll different dice against you and possibly make you draw a mutation card (which coincidentally I really love that part). After it’s all said and done you discard the card you picked as your base and shuffled the rest back in so your challenge deck is always getting smaller. Now, I should say that I like some of the mechanisms used here such as the way your combat deck is utilized, although I don’t much care for the constant shuffling. I really don’t like the melee portion with the way the dice work, it’s just TOO much. Personally, I think combat should either be ranged OR melee, not both at the same time.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
Super low interaction here. The game board is broken into 4 separate quadrants, one for each player. During a typical round, players will move about in their own areas, never even breaching the other players areas (because they can’t). Each player has their own specific set of missions to complete that have nothing to do with everyone else. The ONLY real interaction you will see at all is the bidding for player order and who gets to pick from the terrain tiles first. This can potentially rob another player of a specific tile or scavenger token they were needing, but players won’t even notice. Each player will be so preoccupied with their own goings ons that bothering to try and figure out what will slow down the other players will be far from their mind. Because let’s face it, if you were to take a tile you didn’t need JUST to slow down one player, well congrats, you just slowed yourself down so the other players can now take the lead.
That said, I had quite a bit of fun playing the game! There is a dedicated solo mode you can partake in that is super tough to beat, but it’s fun! The game plays more like a race/puzzle to solve than an overly thematic survival game. Players are basically trying to find the most efficient and quickest way to complete their missions because the first player that completes each mission gets a bigger chunk of victory points. The tiles you lay don’t really mean anything other than a means to an end since you are trying to complete combat encounters on specific tiles in a specific order. The typical gameplay is ok but where the game REALLY shines is through its story encounters. These are random snips of wasteland encounters that players will have as the game rounds progress giving them options and choice to make, some ending badly, others good. They are very well written and provide a nice break from the race/puzzle of the regular gameplay.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
I mean, considering the almost non-existent player interaction I would play this either solo, solo 2 handed or 2 players. Downtime can be a real beast if playing 4 players especially during the overly complicated combat encounters.
Replayability however is pretty high owing much to the massively varied story encounters. I mean, there is an entire bag you draw story tokens from during those encounters so you are bound to see something different every time for many, many games. The terrain tiles and scavenger tile combos are also varied but to a much lesser degree since there are only 4 different styles of terrain and scavenger tokens. Each character is also a bit different having a few unique challenge cards and slightly different stats and starting equipment. For example, one survivor is extremely adept at handling mutants based on their unique deck of cards whereas another can move around the map much easier and quicker.
Positive Final Thoughts
I REALLY love the story bits that happen during the beginning of rounds randomly. I also enjoy completing missions and getting to draw and read how the mission unfolds and the fact that there are quite a few different missions, this keeps the game alive. Some of the mechanisms during combat are also enjoyable.
Negative Final Thoughts
BUT, combat as a whole is probably my least favorite part of the game as it is just too over bearing. I can’t say I really engaged a whole lot with the general gameplay either as picking tiles to lay and moving to them in a specific order was pretty bland and unexciting. Some of the deluxe components needed to be thought out a bunch more as far as usefulness goes and the player boards pegs are just way too loose.
The Bottom Line
This is an interesting gameplay take on the post-apocalypse. It uses gameplay elements that focus more on racing and efficiency puzzle rather than theme. Personally, it’s not my favorite board game of this particular theme but I do appreciate the way the mechanisms work overall. Though not my favorite I do still have a good time when playing mostly due to the interesting story encounters and discovering what happens when I complete my missions.
The Fuzzy Llama Bronze Seal of Prevalence
One thought on “Posthuman Saga”
Very fair, if not diplomatic, review. Thanks to community quarantine, I was finally able to unbox my KS copy. Spent almost three hours sorting the components and reading the rules. Then gave it a go at solo. It was an underwhelming and high-maintenance experience. The reasons include many of those you mentioned — long set up, tedious combat rules, and very fiddly player boards (with the accompanying cards and tokens). Too much is happening.
Theme, and how it relates to gameplay, is good though. So I’m planning to give the game one more try (assuming I overcome the complicated set-up). Maybe it will get better now that I am more familiar with the rules. If not, it’s going to the marketplace