Let's start this off by saying Eschaton is THE sleeper hit of Gen Con 2016 everyone should be talking about. While the larger tabletop publishers had their massive set-ups, Archeon games was off to the side in a small booth with a couple cloth banners and some art work on display.
The art style is what first hooked me. The art is dark and looks like the cover art from some 80s devil worshipping metal band. Speaking of metal, the cloth map which players play on really drives that intense feeling whilst playing. The name itself "Eschaton" means "The Final Event" which is just awesome...
So I sit down and ask the guy what the game is like and he tells me "Dominion meets Risk". Immediately I'm saying in my head 'get the f*** out of here'. This guy is telling me his game is a blending of two of the greatest tabletop strategy games of all time?! After an hour of play I'm here to say it lives up to the hype, and you need this game if you love strategy.
How To Play
Each player is the leader of a "cult" and has the exact same starter deck as other players. Using their cards, players will purchase other cultists (seen above) and cards to further their cult before the Eschaton and to gain the favor of "the dark one". Depending on a cards attributes, players can either get cards from the main deck, purchase cultists, buy plagues to place on the map (which reduce units) or commit actions on the game board to further spread their cult.
Using "aggression points" (aggression is the bottom attribute on the above pictured cards), players can spend a point placing a cultist on an area they control (all players begin the game with four units in the Citadel), move to an adjacent area of their starting position, eliminate an enemy in their territory, or add units to an area they are in.
Round by round various events are revealed that change the conditions of the round offering bonuses for some cards or other things. The game ends on Eschaton...at which point players add up their controlled territory points (shown on map), sacrifice their cultists for additional points (some are worth more than others) and combine the score of both. The player with the most points gains the favor of the dark one and is spared!
How Does It Play
You would think a game like this would be really confusing and chaotic but it's surprisingly quick to grasp. Within one round everyone at the table was pretty confident on what they could do in their phase and no one needed guidance the second time around. I like that the card phase is just as important as the board phase and vice versa. You can't dedicate yourself to one aspect of this game and expect to win.
This may not be a game for you to play with your child, but for fans of strategy I think it's a must own. After selling out their Gen Con supply the team started a Kickstarter for the game and completed their $5,000 goal for more orders in under 2 days. After playing it I'm not at all surprised.
If you love Dominion or Risk you need this game. End of story. Their Kickstarter page is still taking orders for official copies of the game, but if you want it on the cheap they're offering a printable version for $10! That's a steal if you're not worried about aesthetics! Check it out here.