Many times we have gathered all our courage and confronted the evil that threatened to destroy our world. We had to make great sacrifices. Have almost gone mad.
But now everything is different. Now we are the cultists who worship the Great Old Ones, begging them to finally elevate us and give us their favor. We are their servants, the heralds of their glory. The Great Old Ones Will Return to the World.
Kingsport is another game that draws from the fund of H.P. Lovecraft scoops, but finally gives the players the opportunity to play against the investigators and for the Great Old Ones for once as well.
Kingsport Festival was kindly made available to us free of charge by the Kosmos publishing house. However, this has no influence on the rating of the game.
The game board, which represents the eponymous city of Kingsport, is placed in the center of the table. The corresponding building tile is placed on each building in the city, with the text side facing upwards. Around the board, the 20 "grand old man" boards are distributed in ascending order. Starting with the big old one on which instead of a number an X is to be found.
The resource cubes are sorted according to their colors (red, purple, black) and placed within easy reach of all players. Red stands for destruction, purple for evil and black for death.
Each player receives the game material of his cultist. This includes three dice, 15 wooden discs, a wooden cylinder, a cult marker and an overview card. Then each player places one wooden disc each on the rust colored bar (Mental Health) at the value of 10. On the yellow bar (magic) to the value 0. The wooden cylinder is placed on the value 0 of the green bar. The wooden cylinder is placed on the value 0 of the green bar. This bar shows the number of cult points of the players. These are also their victory points.
The players always trade a phase together. Only after all players have performed their actions does the next phase begin.
In turn order, players roll their 3 dice and the one with the lowest total value becomes the starting player for this round, followed by the player with the second lowest value, etc.
In turn order, players can now summon the Great Old Ones or pass. To summon a Great Old One, one or more of the rolled dice are placed on the square of a Great Old One. The sum of the dice must correspond exactly to the number of the Great Old One.
After that, players receive gifts (in the form of resources, spell cards, magic points, cult points or mental health) from the Great Old Ones they have summoned. Starting here with the Big Old Man with the X and then continuing in ascending order, from 1 to 19. Each player who has received his gift removes his cube or cubes from the corresponding Great Old One. Here it can happen that the players lose mental health.
After receiving the gifts, players can now spread out in the city of Kingsport to increase their influence. Each player may place one of his discs on a building to which he has a connection, starting from the house. To be allowed to place his disc on a building the player must pay the indicated resources and receives the indicated reward.
If the current round has an attack marker, the attack of an investigator now takes place. First, the investigator's event card is revealed and acted upon, followed by the attack itself. If the strength of a player is equal to or higher than the strength of the investigator, he wins against the investigator. If a player's strength is lower than the investigator's, he loses and is penalized. A player receives a reward only if his strength is higher than that of the investigator. In case of a tie, he neither receives a reward nor is he penalized. Last but not least, the time indicator on the calendar is moved forward one space. The next round starts again with the first phase. However, if this was the 12. If the player has reached the end of the second round, the game ends and the player with the most cult points wins. If there was a festival card, it is now revealed and executed.
The ways of the cultists
The creators have put a lot of effort into the elaboration of the components and mechanics, and they have matched them very well. This already starts with the mechanics of the dice roll, because already here the game forces the players to consider exactly what possibilities are open to them and how they can best use them for themselves. Do you split your cubes and get fewer but different resources, or do you go all out and get only one resource but many of them?? But maybe you need more magic points, mental health or spells.
Resources and spells are available to players in three categories: death (black), evil (purple) and destruction (red). Death-type spells increase the cultists' combat strength in battle, Evil simplifies the summoning of the Great Old Ones, and Destruction brings the cultists cult points or resources. Resources on the other hand, besides magic points, are needed to be able to use some spells or to be able to spread out in the city.
Each building in Kingsport Festival has a unique property that can give a player an advantage over their fellow players. Since you can't spread out in all buildings during a game, you have to think carefully about which properties fit your strategy and which ones are negligible. The Museum, for example, allows a player to draw a spell card in the Turn Order phase. If you have spread out in the theater, you get one magic point in the turn order phase.
With all the possibilities, however, you must always make sure that you have enough mental health left, because otherwise the collected cult points are quickly lost again.
Together with the rule adjustments made by the scenario card and the different investigators and event cards, each game is thus always a little different from the last one played.
Kingsport Festival may seem complex at first glance, but after the first game it turns out to be well thought out and the individual game phases and actions quickly become second nature. Due to scenario and festival cards, different investigators paired with different event cards and the buildings, which you can't all spread out into during a game and thus have to decide specifically, each game is always a little different from the last one played. On the whole, this is not a completely new challenge, since Kingsport Festival still follows the same pattern, but it brings a pleasant variety to the game and your game tactics must adapt accordingly to the events in Kingsport.
However, the fact that each cultist plays alone and there is no interaction between the players is a negative aspect. There is no possibility to form fragile alliances or to really mess with the other cultists' handiwork. Nevertheless, Kingsport is a very good. Very enjoyable game in terms of playing time. Above all, the great atmosphere that the game knows how to create should be mentioned here. The cards, the rulebook and the backs of the Great Old Ones give players a lot of insight into the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Make you want more.
Except for the lack of interaction, Kingsport Festival is a better game and let's face it, who hasn't wanted to play a cultist and pay homage to the Great Old Ones??
I have nothing to do with the Cthulhu scenario per se and am not really interested in it, so Kingsport had to do without a fan bonus with me.
The rules are straightforward; it didn't take me long to get the hang of them. Although the rules are not very complex the different grand old men and the buildings on the city map offer many possibilities to create your very own Strategy to put in place. The buildings, the gifts of the Great Old Ones and the magic cards often offer synergy effects, which you have to exploit specifically to gain an advantage.
For example, one building can generate a magic point every turn, while another one can be exchanged for a cult point can exchange. Another building allows you to draw a spell card, which can be wonderfully combined with the graveyard to get resources faster and invest them directly into new buildings – thus spreading faster on the board.
But you never have enough time to advance into all the buildings, because investigators and events regularly pop up to mess with you, so you can't limit yourself to just spreading out in the city, you also have to pay attention to your combat strength (in terms of buildings and spell cards).
And this is what I like about Kingsport. I don't see any strategy that leads 100% to victory, you can and must always find new ways to deal with the current situation. While you can drive a certain strategy, you also have to be flexible, and use the clairvoyance skill so you don't get blindsided by investigators and events.
I missed the interaction with the other players. essentially you spread out side by side, you can even occupy buildings at the same time and not compete for same. Only when selecting the grand old people can you deliberately put obstacles in the way of other players – but you may also have to accept that your own move will not go optimally. Here an additional deck of cards would offer itself, which is specialized in hindering the other players (in particular the point-strongest player), or a maximum number of cultists, who may entrench themselves in a building (in dependence of the participating players).
Nevertheless, there were many a take-it-or-leave-it moment, when you – intentionally or not – snatched a Great Old One from under the nose of another player.
Overall, even I, as a non-Cthuhlu cultist, had my fun with Kingsport: Festival. 4 out of 5 Cthulhu tentacles up.
At a glance
This information is provided by BoardGameGeek. Here you can find the entry of the game on BoardGameGeek.