Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Vindication: Leaders & Alliances’

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Vindication: Leaders & Alliances cover

As you work to regain your honor, you’ve managed to build some rapport with the leaders of the various guilds: the Leaders & Alliances expansion opens up new opportunities for Vindication.

What Is Vindication: Leaders & Alliances?

Vindication: Leaders & Alliances is an expansion for Vindication for 1 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 15–30 minutes per player. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $29 for a copy of the expansion. (Other tiers are available in case you want the base game only, or the base game and the expansion.) For more about the base game, see my Vindication review here.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer, and visit our Kickstarter curated page for more projects we love.

Vindication Leaders & Alliances components
Vindication: Leaders & Alliances components. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Vindication: Leaders & Alliances Components

Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality. For instance, the leaders all have actual names instead of “Name, and the tokens will be shield-shaped instead of the round scoring discs (which are actually from the base game).

The game will include:

  • 6 Leader boards
  • 15 Rapport tokens (3 per player color)
  • 1 Rapport Threshold token
  • Large Scumbag
  • 2 Variant dice
  • 10 Character Standees (2 per player)
  • Academy variant tile

Not all of the components were in the prototype I was able to borrow, but here’s a quick look at what everything is. The leader boards are the primary new component, and show 6 leaders with rapport tracks and new abilities. The rapport threshold token is placed on the scoring track so that you can easily see if your honor is high enough to form alliances.

The “scumbag” is the cloth bag for the region tiles. The base game came with a small cloth bag, but it could be difficult to really mix up the tiles in it near the beginning of the game. The new scumbag will be significantly larger (and mulberry colored).

Vindication Leaders & Alliances dice
Variant dice can give you more of a common attribute, but the new monster die can take it away. Image: Orange Nebula

The variant dice can be used as a replacement for base game’s dice: the attribute die is now balanced so that you earn either one heroic attribute or two common attributes; the monster die now has a face that cancels out your attribute die.

The character standees may be used in place of the metal player tokens, and feature the artwork on your Wretched/Vindicated tile. Each player will have two standees: one showing the Wretched artwork and one showing the Vindicated artwork. I like the metal tokens, but they’re hard to distinguish at a glance except by the plastic base, so these standees may be a little more functional.

Finally, the Academy variant tile is to correct a misprint in the base game’s tile, because the Academy tile was missing the icon for 2 honor.

Vindication Leaders & Alliances journeys

I’ll note that Kickstarter backers will also have access to two other bonuses: a new Boulder Hulk miniature, and the community-designed promo pack. Orange Nebula has been using its Kickstarter updates to create various social media-driven “journeys,” letting backers make choices about new characters, monsters, and items to introduce to the game, and voting on their names and abilities. It’s been a lot of fun following these updates, and the promo pack will include region tiles and various cards. You can see the results of the completed journeys on the Kickstarter page, and check the latest updates for ongoing journeys.

How to Play Vindication: Leaders & Alliances

For how the base game works, please refer to my original review here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is still the same: have the highest honor when the game ends (due to one of the Game End Trigger cards).

Vindication Leaders & Alliances setup
The primary setup difference is the added Leaders boards. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Setup

The game is set up the same as the base game, but you add the six leader boards next to the main board. Each player takes their 3 rapport tokens. Place one rapport token on the 2nd space of the track on the leader that matches your player color. (Note that there is a gold-colored leader which does not correspond to any player color.) The other two rapport tokens are set aside in your player area.

If you want to use the new monuments variant, then be sure to include the Guilds & Monuments expansion module from the base game as well.

Gameplay

On your turn, you now have a bonus action available, which can be use to Gain Rapport, Use Guild Perks, or Initiate a Guild Alliance. You may only do one of these three actions per turn.

Gain Rapport: You may spend attributes (remove cubes from attribute spheres on the main board) in order to move up on a rapport track. Each common attribute spent lets you move up 1 space, and each heroic attribute spent lets you move up 2 spaces. You don’t have to match the color of the attribute spent to the rapport track. Since you have 3 rapport tokens, you may have rapport with up to 3 leaders at any given time. If you take this action, you may spend as many attributes as you like to adjust any or all of your rapport tokens.

Vindication Leaders & Alliances leader boards
Each leader has two perks. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Use Guild Perks: Each leader has two perks shown on their leader boards, one that costs 1 rapport, and one that costs 2 rapport. You may spend rapport to trigger these guild perks. You may use as many guild perks in a single turn as you wish, but each particular perk may only be used once per turn.

Initiate a Guild Alliance: When you have enough rapport with at least two leaders, you may initiate an alliance. Your rapport tokens must be on numbered spaces on two leaders. You immediately gain honor equal to the two numbered values, and then move those rapport tokens to the alliance spaces at the top of the leader boards. Each leader can have two alliances—if both spaces are taken, you may not establish another alliance. Also, since you only have 3 rapport tokens, you may only initiate one alliance per game, and then you will only have one rapport token remaining for using guild perks.

Vindication Leaders & Alliances monuments
Monuments are now built onto the board. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There are also some new expanded rules for the Guilds & Monuments expansion module in the base game. Now, when you build your monument, you place it onto a region that you control. That region, plus all adjacent regions that you control, will now give you double honor when other players visit it. It also doubles the point value for those regions for you at the end of the game.

Why You Should Play Vindication: Leaders & Alliances

My disclaimer for this post is that, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a hold of a prototype for Leaders & Alliances until after the Kickstarter campaign had already launched, so I only got the opportunity to play it once with the expansion while I had a prototype on loan to me.

I’ve really enjoyed playing the Vindication base game, partly because there are so many different directions you can take toward victory. That freedom can also be a little paralyzing, though, because it may not be obvious whether one particular path is better than another. I think your attitude toward that sandbox feel may give you a good idea whether you’ll also like adding in the Leaders & Alliances expansion.

The new expansion does feel like an additional module, along the lines of the Guilds & Monuments module that was present in the base game. It adds some new actions and possibilities, but not too many new rules to keep track of. What it does add, though, is 12 new guild perks to learn.

At the beginning of the game, you’ll have immediate access to the two perks from the guild matching your player color. Since you start with 2 rapport, you can purchase either of the two perks. However, as the game progresses, you’ll have to decide which of the other guilds you want to start building rapport with. This can change as the game goes on—you can exhaust your rapport with one leader, and then start building rapport with another, based on the perks you’re pursuing. And those perks can be really powerful: teleporting, augmenting potential directly to conviction, even clearing control and fortifications from a region tile.

Vindication Leaders & Alliances
Leader boards. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

However, each time you spend rapport on guild perks, you’re also costing yourself potential points that could be gained by forming an alliance. If you reach the highest spot on two rapport tracks, you could gain 20 honor for initiating an alliance—that’s nothing to sneeze at, for sure! But establishing an alliance also hobbles your ability to gain perks for the rest of the game, so you’ll typically want to try it near the end of the game.

All of these new bonuses don’t come cheaply, of course: you’re spending attributes to gain rapport. Whether it’s better in the long run to use attributes for rapport or to use them for all the other things (like fighting monsters, acquiring relics, or gaining traits) is up to you to decide.

The monuments variant doesn’t change the gameplay much at all and is very easy to add in (even if you don’t have the Leaders & Alliances expansion), but it does put a bigger premium on building your monument. If you can build your monument and then gain control of a few regions surrounding it, you stand to score a lot of honor when people visit those regions, and you’ll get a lot more points at the end of the game. In the original monuments rules, it felt like it was a bit of a gamble whether it was worth pursuing the monument because it could tie up so many of your resources, but now there’s a bigger payoff.

I think if you’re a fan of Vindication, it’s because you like the way that you can go in so many different directions, and you’ll probably really enjoy the Leaders & Alliances expansion. If you felt like the base game was already giving you too much analysis paralysis, then this expansion will certainly exacerbate that, because it just gives you a couple more things to consider during each turn. I think the theme plays out well, the way that you build rapport but then call in favors from these leaders, and also the way that you can encourage these guild leaders to form alliances (but only when both of them are friendly enough to you).

There are only a few days left on the Vindication Kickstarter campaign, so if you’re curious about any of this, I encourage you to check it out soon!


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