I want you to think about an interesting question. What game has had the biggest impact on your life? What game has influenced, changed, led you in a new direction , led you to meeting people and really made a difference in your life? For me there’s probably two or three games that has had a big impact on my life.
The first is Dungeons & Dragons because it’s the first game that got me started gaming in the first place. I started at a very young age when I was in 2nd grade and it’s really led me down a path of a lifelong passion for games.
Another game that has made a very large impact on my life is Vast the Crystal Caverns. This games major impact is because it’s my current career. It’s afforded me the opportunity to make a living in the game industry which is an amazing dream I’m thankful for.
So I want to tell you a little bit about Crystal Caverns what’s cool about it, what makes it unique, what is special about it. Well firstly Crystal Caverns is an asymmetric to the max Dungeon Crawl. The theme of the game is we have a brave young lady “The Knight” who goes adventuring into a cave with a mission to slay the mighty dragon. A trite fantasy theme but it’s also a classic one. There’s more that makes Crystal Caverns really unique and that is one of the players takes on the role of the cave itself. Watch out during game play because the cave is actually intelligent.
What the cave is trying to do is make the game last. The cave player is playing a tile laying game and once all of the tiles have been laid out the cave starts taking tiles away and if the cave manages to remove the crystal supports the whole cave collapses trapping all of the other players and the cave wins . It has lots of tricks up its sleeve to accomplish this it can rotate rooms it can create walls it can basically summon bats to chase away the knight. It can affect all of the other players in the game The Cave can help you or the cave can hurt you based on how the game is going.
Now the inhabitants of the cave are the goblins. They live in the cave and they are not happy about a knight adventuring into their home so their goal is to slay the knight. The Goblins are playing a completely different game than the knight and the cave. They basically use hit-and-run tactics to pop out of the darkness and attack the knight. They’re playing sort of a population management game and they have monsters which give them various abilities. They’re an absolute blast to play.
That brings me to the dragon who is a very powerful ancient dragon but has been asleep for over 100 years. The dragon has detected the knight entering its lair and realizes it’s in a very weakened state and just needs to wake up from its grogginess. So it’s plan is to wake up, flee out of the cave, regain its strength and then come back and take care of this pesky knight later on. Now one of the ways that the dragon wakes up is by eating the goblins. Hey goblins are plentiful, very tasty and they’ve got a hint of caffeine inside making them perfect for helping to wake up sleepy dragons. Gameplay-wise the dragon is playing a hand management game and wins the game if they wake up and escape out of the cave alive.
The knight is playing your classic dungeon crawl adventure. She can go on quests and explore the cave all the while gaining grit which is basically experience points. Grit helps the knight level up and become more powerful so that she can achieve her goal of slaying the dragon.
As you can see the theme is very classic fantasy but the game play is super unique. Asymmetry is taken to an extreme. In fact each player is using a completely different play style than the other players and each has a different victory condition. This creates unparalleled replayability. Play a few games as the knight and you’re having a great time now switch and play the the dragon and you will have an entirely new game experience
If you have never played a game with lots of asymmetry check out Vast The Crystal Caverns it’s a must play in my opinion.
Back to a little about the impact on my life. It was about three years ago at Gen Con that Patrick was showing off Crystal Caverns. It was an early prototype and we joke today about how little plastic styrofoam bits kept falling off the cave tiles creating a mess and sticking to everything. I’ve known Patrick for many years and I heard that he was at Gen Con so once the vendor hall closed I made an effort to go say hi and check out his game. Little did I know a year later I would be in the Leder games booth demoing Crystal Caverns to the public as it debuted at Gen Con 2016. This led to full-time employment with Leder Games as sales and currently director of operations.
When I look back it’s been an amazing few years and I can say with certainty that Vast The Crystal Caverns has had a huge impact on my life. I’d be very curious to hear about what games have had an impact on your life.
As always happy gaming!