Eldfall Chronicles: First Playthrough & Initial Thoughts!

June 9, 2021 by avernos

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Free Company are on Kickstarter with their first game the Eldfall Chronicles. This is an in-depth fantasy skirmish game with an oriental flavour in the design of both the world and the martial arts mechanics. There are two ways to play Eldfall Chronicles, a PVP skirmish game and a PVE game that can be played either solo or co-operatively.

Empire Of Soga vs Helian League // Eldfall Chronicles

Eldfall Chronicles Kickstarter // FreeCompany

Check Out More From Eldfall Chronicles

The mechanics remain the same whether you are playing against the game or an opponent so I set up a small table to play out a quick PVE game. Before I get into the gameplay itself I will say that the models and accessories, tokens and cards, that Free Company sent through are gorgeous, I know they've been working on this game for a while now and it shows even though the materials are pre-production prototypes the level of design and work that has gone into them is excellent.

This is especially impressive for a new company's first attempt at a game, there are no rough edges here. The second thing I will say is that this is still a beta set of rules and that they have been taking feedback and working with the community throughout, so things may change.

Monster Mash // Eldfall Chronicles

I set up a small village that has become home to a roving band of monsters to test out the AI and gameplay. The game using volumes so it doesn't matter if you're using tokens or an array of miniatures, and like the characters, there are double-sided play cards with all their basic stats and abilities there for easy access in-game.

There is currently a three-page set of rules for the Hostiles Behaviour, the first page explains how they play out in their active phase the order of activation starts with the lowest tier and working up to the highest. The other two pages are dedicated to the four monsters behaviour in both phases of their active phase and how they will react to the player, but more on that later.

Empire Of Soga // FreeCompany

For my little warband I chose the Empire of Soga over the Helian League for one simple reason, it has no magic.

Archer vs Elemental // Eldfall Chronicles

I know I know a fantasy skirmish game and you're not using magic? Yes voice in my head, I decided it would be easier to learn the mechanics for melee and ranged attacks and how the monsters played before I decided to add in any magic. So the warriors of the Empire suited me beautifully.

Eldfall Chronicles - Turn Sequence

The game turn is broken into two phases Active and Reactive. The winner of the initiative roll is the Active player and they have access to their Leader's Stratagem if they're still on the table and not incapacitated. This allows you to tailor the active turn to a certain extent, bonuses like +1 Speed for Advance! or +2 Agility to aid your dodge rolls through Evasion Tactics. It also means that your choice of Leader and the Stratagems they have available to them can change up how that faction will play even if the rest of the warband remains the same.

Mistakes Were Made // Eldfall Chronicles

After selecting the Stratagem for the turn you activate characters one at a time up to their Stamina value and each activation allows a move and action, but may also provoke a reaction from any monsters that have a line of sight to them. I chose to start with Evasion Tactics as I wasn't certain how things would play out and then I shot the mighty earth elemental in the head as my first action.

Eldfall Chronicles - System

The system is d20 based and successes are generally equal to or lower than the relevant stat. I started with a double-tap on the Elemental and despite a natural 1 which would be a crit and ignore the armour of the target both my damage rolls were fluffed and all I managed to do was annoy the big rocky mound of earth and encourage it to chase after me...so I fled towards my friend and leader for mutual aid and also to hide behind!

Charge!

For the short bow it has a max range of 40" but at 20" or less there is no modifier to the accuracy and has a Strike value equal to the archers STA, so two shots needing 12 or less, however, there are cover modifiers but because the Elemental is massive the ruined wall only knocks that down by -2 for the light cover. Damage rolls for the two successes take the Armour of the target away from the Power of the attack. T 13 minus ARM 10 means under 3 for the first roll but the critical hit ignore the ARM so 13 or less for that one. I split the difference and fail at both!

If the Target had dodged it would have a single roll under its Agility to avoid all the incoming damage, although striking from behind halves the Agility so sneak attacks are definitely the way to go if you can pull them off.

Equipment Options

Despite reaching my archer and attempting to knock his head into the next kingdom my use of Evasion paid off and he managed to dodge the blow, so the Clan Champion moved into attack. Base to base contact is not required, instead, the equipment you use has a reach stat in this instance 2". Equipment on the cards are the basic loadout of the character but they can be changed although it will cost more points.

Onitaoshi Armsmaster // Empire Of Soga

This is where the system leans into the skirmish nature of the game, weapons can be detailed because the model count is low (capped at ten characters per side) the Champion's spear not only allows him to attack from range and prevent attacks back without movement but also may be thrown as a ranged attack. Although if you do chuck it away it comes out of your inventory.

Equipment may have differing effects, like adding to your attack power, or causing additional status effects like poisoning or bleeding the target. The variety of equipment opens up a world of list building and again can change how a character performs on the tabletop. This is something I like a lot and blurs the line into RPG territory, but weight plays a factor and you can't fill your pockets with all sorts of equipment in the hope it may be helpful as the game progresses as you have encumbrance to deal with.

Skills &Abilities

There is a selection of skills and abilities that can be used to great effect in-game. My Onitaoshi moves forward and uses her Taunt skill that can force all enemies with a Line of sight to move towards her unless they pass an Intelligence check.

Finish Him!

Combine that with her Fencing ability where you can choose from a variety of bonus effects depending on the level of training, and her Greatsword allowing sweep attacks to carve through multiple targets within reach and you can soon see the synergies within the game coming through. Pulling weaker targets into combat and cleaving through them in one go to eliminate them has a very cinematic feel.

Final Thoughts

Although I didn't get to use any magic I have looked at the magic system and it plans on the ranged system but you require Mana to cast spells and Mana is generated by exchanging Activations. I do like that touch, the requirement to stay focused to cast the spell and depending on the complexity it may need all of your characters activations to pull it off. It makes spellcasters both powerful and still vulnerable and fragile as they can be easily trapped or left behind.

Overall I really enjoy the game, the rule mechanics flow well and are easy to pick up. The layers of detail and options available to build your warband through equipment or other traits make it infinitely variable and with games like this, that level of minutiae is what draws people in and sets it apart from being another generic fantasy game. Add to that the design aesthetic and the world that has been built up for Eldfall Chronicles from the factions histories through to the miniatures and Free Company have an incredibly compelling game.

Eldfall Chronicles Kickstarter // FreeCompany

Check Out More From Eldfall Chronicles

If I have a criticism it is a minor one on the PVE Behaviours. Even though none of the monsters has more than five possible choices within move, action, or reaction it means that you have a lot of pages to refer to for only four monsters. I wonder if there is a way that it could be streamlined into a single flow chart for ranged and melee focused creatures.

You would lose the granularity and individuality of the creatures but the gameplay would flow and over time you would know what they will default to. At the moment each activation requires a check to see which way they should behave and that took me out a little, otherwise, I feel like it's well worth a look and the PVP game offers up a lot of interesting choices for players.

Let me know what you think of the Eldfall Chronicles!

"...the world that has been built up for Eldfall Chronicles from the factions histories through to the miniatures and Free Company have an incredibly compelling game."

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