Let us journey today, dear friends, to the very depths of HELL ITSELF! Well, a board game version of hell at least. From R&R Games comes a new title focused on the complicated and diabolic politics of the Lower Hells, specifically the final two as laid out by Dante Alighieri. And while it owes a bit to his famous Inferno, the setting of 9th Circle is certainly unique in its own right. I got a chance to check the game out with a special preview of the game, which is currently on Kickstarter! So today we plunge down through the fire and the flames to take a look at 9th Circle!
What’s In The Box?
- 9th Circle Board
- 10 8th Circle Realms
- Malacoda Mini
- 3 Realm Markers
- 40 Demon Shades (8 of each color)
- 208 Minion cubes (40 per color, 8 Black)
- 6 Berserk Minion cubes
- 15 Movement Markers
- 5 Favor Markers
- 5 Minion Cages
- 5 Player Shields
- 5 Planning Boards
While I can’t comment too much on the contents too much as I’m unsure how far from the final product my prototype is, I can see even now the components are very nice and super well illustrated. Despite a slightly cartoony theme, 9th Circle doesn’t lean too far into that aesthetically. Neither does it lean too far into the horror, going for a halfway point similar to something like Doom or Diablo.
How’s It Play?
In 9th Circle, you and your fellow Demon Lords are battling for the favor of Malacoda (a rather obscure demon authentically taken from Dante’s Inferno). To do so, you must command your minions to conquer the various realms of the Eighth Circle of Hell (Malebolge) and from them gain different boons and powers to help you gain that favor. At it’s core it’s a game of worker placement, done simultaneously. The more minions you have on a realm, the more likely you are to control it and reap the benefits. The kicker here is that everyone plans out there moves ahead of time behind a screen, requiring you to anticipate other players and be both proactive and reactive as needed. It’s a fairly straightforward gameplay loop, with much of the complication coming from the unpredictable nature of your fellow demon lords and their ability to counter your stratagems.
The realm powers themselves range from the always useful (move or destroy minions, beef up a minion for more dominance, giving minions immunity) to the more situational (swapping entire realms worth of minions, forcing minions to stay on a realm). I can easily see how some of them might get swarmed by players looking for a quick choice while the others come up as the game develops and strategies become more apparent. These are always good things when it comes to a games replayability. The first player to get 25 favor wins the game and take their place in the higher echelon of Hell’s Legions.
I think the selling point for this game will naturally be the theme, which is wonderfully rendered throughout the game. Thanks to great art and some witty writing, everything about the game is deliciously demonic. You’ll have a lot of fun getting “into character” as you send minions to their doom (whether they’re yours or not), and there’s enough strategy to give you plenty of ways to play. It has that sort of lovely simplicity that a lot of worker placement games do, where the core gameplay is quite easy to pickup but the depth of the game reveals itself over time. If you get the chance to check this game out, or decide to back it while it’s on Kickstarter, I think you’ll be in for a devilishly good time.
The Kickstarter for 9th Circle runs until June 2nd, with the core game going for $60.
Images via R&R Games
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