Black Sands: Fantasy Themed Hero Skirmish Review

 Game: Black Sands Time: 15- 45 minutes (depends on player count)
 Publisher: Scry Games Age: 12+
 Players: 2- 4 Replayability: 6.5/10

Black Sands

black sandsFantasy Hero skirmish battles sounds like a really fun idea with colliseum matches featuring all our favorite all-stars: khal drogo, hercules, Takenoko Panda; I mean the possibilities are endless. With Black Sands you get just that! Minus the streamlined characters.. Add four super epic Scry designed characters and set up the hex grid map battlefield to begin. I have never played a tactical battling hex based board game before, so this was my first time. While I have always been interested in Warhammer, I enjoy that Scry Games’ Black Sands is a very accessible variant to that (and a lot cheaper!). The game is simple, you and your hero will make your way around the hex tile map and kill off other heroes of the opposing team. Now this can be a team of lone-wolves (everyone solo), or a 2v2. Regardless, you will be using powers, prepared moves, and abilities to counter, block, and attack your enemies. As long as you have a good standing with your health bar and you maintain striking blows and good dodges, you should be fine. Remaining hero or team wins.

My Experience

I had a two player experience (which has been noticeably common lately in my reviews. *sigh) between me as the paladin and my brother as the Hunter. We began the game 4 hexes apart sitting at the edge of the boards (where the walls are). While slightly confused at first about the way to play the game we quickly understood how it all worked. Each player will be given a handful of cards to setup (put down to play) and play later using action points given (activating these played cards) to you at the beginning of each round.(activating these played cards). You’ll have abilities to move, attack, and block along with character specific options to emphasize variable player options and strategies.

A lot of the game was spent with my paladin chasing around the hunter. I’d always trigger blocks to prevent the hunters arrow attackblack sandss from harming me. While it felt like a wild goose chase, I eventually got him trapped up against a wall and was able to get in some powerful blows feeling the experience pf Black Sands I was supposed to have. In the end, the hunter won this battle because I wasn’t drawing my healing cards quick enough and never had enough action points to attack after running toward my enemy.

Final Thoughts

While the premise seems really neat. I think the execution was tough. The game does a great job capturing the idea as well as it can. But I think this game requires more than two players in order to “feel” the immersion of a skirmish. The battling and the grid board are a nice blend and I enjoy the player hud tallying our life and ability points. If I was playing with someone who was more involved in the immersion, I think I’d have a bunch of fun really acting out the battle. But my brother doesn’t do that.. he’s very novice.

With more players I can see how Black Sands can feel like a battle to the death between a bunch of heroic characters. But as far as our journey goes, my brother enjoyed running from me because he had his range attacks to hurt me. Which, goes to show there is definitely a high level of direct interaction, which I’d say could make or break the board game. I enjoyed the character hud concept. I like being able to build my current round actions and work off that.

You will Like this game if you’re a fan of arena styled board games. Your variable player characters will instruct unique strategies. In fact, your focus will be in the strategy. final note: It has a nod toward luck of the draw.

You will not like this game if you don’t want to focus heavily on your set up. This isn’t very casual as it expects dedication to ensure your victory. It’s a very direct experience. You won’t like this if you don’t like elimination.

Would I play it again? Yes, I’d like to get more players involved to try it out. Kickstarter


Joseph Nicholas

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Indietabletop. Communication major. Favorite mechanics include: Bluffing and Deduction, modular boards, and action point allowance. Favorite video game genres are Rpgs, Puzzles games, and Sim/Tycoons.

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