Massive Darkness - Unboxing

Massive DarknessOn June 6, 2016 CMoN started the Kickstarter for Massive Darkness, a fantasy dungeon crawl board game. We joined back then because we like their Zombicide games a lot. Now today, finally two heroic DPD guys hauled the massive box to our place and shoved it in my arms. The parcel is 44cm tall, almost as wide and deep and weights 8kg.
This is the 4th time I recieved such a CMoN delivery without getting an email with a tracking number prior. That the game even reached Germany already I only knew because two people from Bonn recieved tracking numbers. My guess is I will get my email in 1-2 days, as has been the case every time. ^^

Since "unboxing" events are seemingly en vouge I share my first impressions here, too. Some warnings upfront: This time we got almost nothing except the base pledge, so there aren't photos of everything. Apart from the base game and the free stuff we only got the Ratlings box, the exclusive marble dice and the Zombicide: Black Plague crossover set.
Additionally, of course we want to play the game eventually and see what it's worth, but I wanted it mostly to use the miniatures for various other games. So I didn't read the cards etc yet but concentrated on the minis. Sorry for not flipping out - the chance of Massive Darkness being better than the other dungeon crawl games in our collection is extremely slim. I did look into the beta rulebook back then and the barely one page of background story and the back then not even planned campaign system was enough to convince me that this game is very much on the light side in terms of atmosphere and exploration and leans heavily towards fighting. ;)

The english version of the game is on pre-order at many shops, e.g. at Fantasywelt, and in case it surprises us in a positive way we will buy the Reptisaurians (lizard men) and - once available - also the plastic markers and the door set (for use in Black Plague, mostly). It should be mentioned that the expansions are actually cheaper for us Germans at online stores than they were at Kickstarter, simply because the $ became a little bit weaker again since then and because CMoN gives pretty bad rebates these days for getting our money 1-1.5 years in advance.
We didn't like any of the designs of the other expansions, so except for the things mentioned nothing of the existing material will be added to our collection later.
There will be a review and German game reports, but Massive Darkness is currently not the only new game waiting to hit our table.

 

Massive Darkness

Here's the fat box unboxed! As I said, we only bought the base game and the 3 items at the bottom. The rest is all free stuff, since that's what CMoN's known for! Let's take a closer look at all the stuff. All photos can be enlarged by clicking them, and this time I stored the photos in extra-large size for those who're still waiting desparately for their own parcel.

 

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The base game. This time CMoN had to use a taller box than usually, since it's so full. So, let's see: 2 sheets of markers with doors, treasure chests and similar things, the rulebook, a fat pack of double-sided floor plans with rooms and corridors, dice, a 1.5cm thick sheet pad with skills for all character classes (in this game, heroes can earn XP and learn new skills during and between adventures and mark new skills on these sheets) and 4 big packs of cards with treasure, traps, monsters and characters. Monsters and heroes use regular size cards, the others are small cards. Oh, and then there's also the "small" cardboard box of miniatures, he he.

At first sight, I think the door markers would have benefitted from a slightly slanted view, they are a bit hard to make out as doors. But CMoN want to sell their plastic doors, after all. Apart from that the markers are quite pleasing, as is the other artwork. Just the dice colours are... quite... ugh. Slightly less strong colours would have been nice.

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The box has 3 trays of miniatures. The dwarves, goblins and orcs are at the top.

 

Massive Darkness

The second tray holds the 6 heroes, the leaders and special models for the monsters, coloured rings and meeples to keep track of characters and the unavoidable plastic tableaus for the players. (Yes, I'm aware that I'm the only one who thinks that those things are just a waste of resources and space in the box.)

 

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A half tray beneath that holds the extra-large wandering monsters. The medusa and the guy on the right were my initial reasons for wanting this game.

 

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"Hm, I think I found a track here!"

"Err... help?"

A few close-up of some miniatures. After the first few preview pics from production I was a bit worried back then, but all in all the wandering monsters turned out as large as I hoped! But honestly, the elf's pose is just dumb... Problems with anatomy and poses are a common problem of all CMoN games since this one, though.

 

Ehe wir zu den optionalen Käufen kommen schauen wir uns jetzt erstmal all die Sachen an, die es kostenlos dazu gab bei diesem Kickstarter.

Massive Darkness

This small box holds 15 regular treasure chests, 4 special better treasure chests and 6 columns. These items replace cardboard markers and are thus optional. The items are very well sculpted, I especially like the fine details on the columns. How well they stand during gameplay has to be tested. The treasure chests are a bit smaller than others in our collection but they match the minis well in size.

 

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A pack of floor plans. 3 of them feature lava, the other 3 a crystal world. On their backsides they have mirrored versions of the corresponding other world, so in the end you have 6 floor plans for each theme. To top it off there's a slim booklet with one page of rules and 6 quests for these worlds.

 

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Next up is the Troglodytes box with 22 miniatures and 13 cards. This box contains a complete new unit of enemies for the game. In our opinion, calling them "Troglodytes" was a bad decision here, since the designs neither match descriptions of the race in other fantasy publications nor looks like degenerated cave dwellers in any way. They wear forged weapons and armour, after all. "Barbarians" would have been a better name. Anyway, that doesn't make the minis any less nice and the background world of Massive Darkness is a hot mess anyway. As long as the rules are better, all's well, lol.
In any case, the miniatures are nicely sculpted and of much better production quality than quite a few Black Plague zombies.

 

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This is Sorcerers & Lord Tusk, an expansion box with 3 new heroes, a monster and a new hero class, namely the sorcerer, which comes as a sheet pad with 20 sheets. We only have this box because it was free, wouldn't have bought it. The monster, Lord Tusk, is quite cool and a new hero class is always sweet. The sorcerer even looks nice. But the other two... The assassins would have been nice if he didn't have this damn awful pose. Sorry, but nobody runs like that, that's art school 101! The other arm should have been in front! No love for the elf, either. It's actually a woman, with a torso that looks way too much like a guys. But well, it was free stuff, so no need to bash it further.

 

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Here's the Noble Warriors & The Cockatrice box. It likewise contains 3 new herous and a monster, including the required cards and the new hero class Noble Warrior. We would have paid for this box. The Cockatrix was - besides the medusa and the tiger man - THE monster I wanted the most, the female dwarf is super cool and the other two are okay. Noble Warrior sounds like a hero class that will be popular amongst our players too, lol.

 


 

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While the things shown so far will be available from shops soon, let's now turn towards the inconspicuous cardboard box which is almost as tall as the base game. The contents of this box are exclusive stretch goals from the Kickstarter, so if you missed out on it you can only look for these items on Ebay. The only exception are the floor plans which I already showed some way up and won't repeat here.

 

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Let's take a quick look at the non-miniature stuff in this box. There's a thin sheet pad for a new hero class named Bonecrusher. Then there's 3 artifacts. It was supposed to be 5, but 2 of them were put into the hero boxes, so everyone should be able to get them. (I doubt they are taken out for shops.) Then there's all the cards for the exclusive monsters and heroes and a dice bag. I never care about dice bags so I can't say much about this one except that it quite literally makes my hair stand on edge. I don't know what kind of artificial velvet they used, but damn, is that stuff statically loaded, lol.

 

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The first tray holds additional models for the orcs, goblins and dwarves in the base game, so it's neither exclusive nor very exciting. (Yet still very useful!)

 

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The next tray holds the 3 exclusive heroes and 11 of the special monsters. Some of them are right down my alley, like the oni, the tiger man, the living armour, the two-headed ogre and the unicorn Chromatis. The tiger man was hands down one of the main reasons for me to get this game. I couldn't care less about the Fomorian (bottom left) due to his disgusting background story, that one will mostly stay in the box. These miniatures show clearly what a mess the background story and world of Massive Darkness is. What are a tiger, a werewold, a Japanese oni, a unicorn, an Egyptian mummy (with a Roman shoulder plate, as one backer at Kickstarter mentioned) and a robot doing in the same dungeon?
Still, some mighty fine minis!

 

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Here are my favourites from this tray. Actually, the unicorn was meant as just a gag at the end of the campaign since it went so well that CMoN ran out of stretch goals in the last few hours. It was so popular with many fans though that CMoN actually gifted it to us afterwards and had it modelled. (Very much to the disappointment of those who hated it, lol.) I would love it to bits, especially since they made it so glorious with rainbow mane and sugar and spice, but sadly the "Anatomy? Is that a foreign dish?" apprentice striked again. A horse that lifts both legs on one side will fall over! Someone went to great lengths to find a photo somewhere of a special sort of tournament horse that can hop like this for short distances, just to defend this pose. That is grasping at straws though and doesn't save this mess. The model was sculpted digitally, it would have been so easy to just mirror the bum part. But noooo, no matter how many backers told CMoN about the pose, they didn't care enough to modify it.
So this critter is unusable without modifications, as the dilettantish post is very obvious. If I saw off the half lifted hoof, put it flat down and re-sculpt the rest of the joint, it will hopefully look like it's just standing. Apart from that the model is gorgeous, the horn isn't just twirled but also slightly bent backwards.

 

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The last tray holds another 7 miniatures which I show here unboxed. On the left is the Ogre Rockbreaker, on the right is the absolute gigantic Cliffbreaker Cyclops, measuring a whopping 12cm in height. Both are very fine miniatures.

 

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The Low Troll and the Hellsbane, which are both very fine additions to our collection.

 

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Last but not least the Overseer, the Werebear and the Nightmare Thing. Of course the bear fits thematically between the other two like a fish amongst oranges, but if we hadn't been backers at this part of the projects we would have joined at this point for sure. These two Cthulhu-like monsters are super cool!

 


 

Now that the goodies are done I'll also show the optional buys we got.

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The dice set. Goodness, the colours are so bad, so... mustardy and way too strong. Those looked way nicer on the preview pic. These marbled dice were an exclusive buy during the Kickstarter, they won't be available in shops. We seldom buy dice, but when it's special dice and you have many players it's nice to have at least two sets. Looking at the colours makes me wish I had chosen the likewise exclusive frosted dice, though. ^^;

 

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The - sadly also exclusive - Zombicide: Black Plague crossover set. It contains 15 hero cards that allow you to play the surviors from the Black Plague base set, the Wulfsburg expansion and the hero set as heroes in Massive Darkness. Since in this game every hero may choose its job/class freely it's a nice expansion for the ranks of heroes. Furthermore there's 25 cards to add various zombies as units and wandering monsters in Massive Darkness. They cover the regular zombies, the wulfz, the deadeye bowmen and the three abominations from the boss set and thus expand the game greatly. Last but not least there's also 21 cards to add the heroes from Massive Darkness as survivors to Zombicide: Black Plague (the regular ones from base game and all expansions as well as the exclusive models). That's not really needed since there are heaps of survivors already, but it's a nice gesture and especially nice for folks looking to link both games in a story.

 

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At last, the Ratlings box I mentioned, which contains a new unit. 22 ratmen and 13 cards make up this expansion.

 

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These are the standard warriors of this unit. One of the biggest downers about Massive Darkness are the numerous duplicate models for me. With those sales numbers and at that price 2-3 sculpts per base model would have been nice. It doesn't make any difference in the game, but it's super boring to paint.

 

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Here are the crossbowmen and all bosses. My favourite is the sorcerer with the broom... err, staff and the adorable curled tail.

 

Finally done! One hour for unboxing, then 5 hours to write the German version of this. Another hour or two for the translation. Now I can sleeve the cards and then MAYBE I can take a closer look at the minis or peek into the rulebook. ^^
At least on first sight everything seems to be complete and perfectly well. CMoN already noticed a problem with several cards and will send out a pack of corrected cards to all backers, so in a few weeks 24 cards will arrives by post. I hope they will be packaged securely and won't get stuck in customs. That's 24 defect cards which can be used to glue homebrewed stuff on. Yay! ;)

 

 

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