Full disclosure: Board&Dice sent me a prototype copy of Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker so that I could create this preview.
What is Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker about?
Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is a solo-only, story-driven deck building game in which you play a specially trained agent whose job is complete a mission. Each mission is divided into several stages, and at the end of each stage, you will be able to make branching choices that affect the challenges you will face and that give the game added replayability.
Blight Chronicles includes several interesting mechanics that give it special flavor as a deck builder and that fit very well with the stealth/infiltration theme. Each time you confront an obstacle, you have a choice to make: Will you eliminate that guard or that security camera, which will give you a new card with a new ability to add to your deck? Or will you choose to "knock out" the obstacle instead, so that you don't benefit from a new card but do maintain a lower profile?
As you make these in-game choices, you will need to take into account your visibility and suspicion levels, because if you don't stay under the radar, you will fail the mission. You also have choices to make about equipment cards, which are tools and outfits that will help you successfully reach new stages. You can only use so many of them at a time, so it's up to you to choose which tools to equip and which outfit to wear.
And don't think that you get to refresh everything at the end of a stage—both your useful cards and your suspicion levels will carry over from stage to stage until the entire mission is complete. The choices you make earlier in the game may come back to haunt you.
What I like about Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker
I am definitely feeling this game. I particularly like both deck builders and board games that cater to solo players, so I am excited to see a product like this one on the market. I also enjoy stealth-heavy mechanics and themes, so I am always very interested to see how stealth can be implemented in board games.
Most importantly, Blight Chronicles plays well. I have an easy time getting into secret agent mode. I can imagine myself taking out camera drones, and I agonize over whether to knock out an obstacle or get aggressive and eliminate it. I see so much potential in the branching pathways, and this system has room for a lot of interesting storylines. I truly cannot wait to see where this game goes.
I also love that Blight Chronicles does so much with only a few decks of cards. So many games seem to demand elaborate miniatures and sprawling boards, but Blight Chronicles manages to immerse me and make me feel like I am sneaking around just by letting me visualize myself inside of an enemy complex. That delights me. And with the ability to save between stages, I also find that it's easy to fit this game into my life. I am going through a very busy couple of weeks, but I have still had time to sneak play sessions in here and there because the game accommodates that.
Possible Concerns about Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker
Because Blight Chronicles is selling itself as a story-driven game, I want to feel sure that there will be a lot of story. Retrying stages just to test out different strategies will only take me so far, and I am going to be disappointed if it does not get ongoing publisher support. Fortunately, Board&Dice has been up front about seeing Blight Chronicles as the start of a much longer adventure, so I am very excited to see where this will go.
Aside from the longevity discussion, I have a few quibbles. The art for this game is pretty blah, so don't go into it expecting a feast for the eyes. This game also has some difficulty swings depending on whether you manage to pull the right cards at the right time, or whether you draw a lot of cards off of the obstacle deck that have devastating effects. Blight Chronicles requires a lot of attention to the card text because several of the captions impact other cards that are in play. If you don't like keeping track of multiple card interactions, Blight Chronicles might not be as fun for you. (I personally don't mind--Sentinels of the Multiverse is among my all-time favorite games.)
Given that the game is played campaign-style and is comprised of several missions, it can also be pretty frustrating to lose. If you generally feel that you should be able to play story games all the way through without too much trouble, Blight Chronicles might disappoint you.
Should I back it?
Blight Chronicles: Agent Decker is a definite back for me. I love deck builders, I love ongoing campaigns, and I love games that are made just for me as a solo player. I am also having a lot of fun playing my demo copy, and I am hungry for more. In my opinion, this is a good game with a ton of potential for future growth. If, however, you don't like games where luck can go against you or where you have to keep track of various card interactions, you might not enjoy it as much.
Feel free to check out my playthrough on YouTube!