It is 1944. World War II is raging in Europe and the Pacific. However, in Brooklyn, New York, another war is about the take place. A boy sleeping peacefully in his room is snatched from his bed by the Boogeyman and dragged into the closet. The boy’s devoted toys decide to embark on a rescue mission to save their boy. Led by the courageous toy soldier known as The Colonel, the toys move into the closet and enter the realm called The Dark. They find themselves in a world where they have become real and can be hurt. The Boogeyman has an army of his own to try to stop them–the boy’s disgruntled and discarded toys that have been relegated to the closet. Can the loyal toys find the boy and save him before he is lost forever?
What Is The Stuff of Legend?
The Stuff of Legend is a cooperative game for 3-6 players, ages 12 and up, and takes about 60-120 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $70 for a retail edition of the game or $99 for the Boogeyman edition of the game which includes deluxe components, character miniatures, and more.
The Stuff of Legend was designed by Kevin Wilson and published by Th3rd World Studios, with illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III, and graphic design by Michael DeVito. The game is based on the New York Times bestselling series of graphic novels by the same name.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
The Stuff of Legend Components
Note: My review is based on a digital prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
Here is what you will get in the box:
- 1 game map
- 1 Coin
- 1 Boogeyman marker
- 1 Boy marker
- 1 Hero party marker
- 20 Troop markers
- 6 character standees
- 6 Hero sheets
- 12 Leader standees
- 1 Action board
- 7 exit Tokens
- 1 Bridge marker
- 1 Wound marker
- 78 Action cards
- 13 Boogeyman cards
- 9 Loyalty cards
- 19 Location cards
- 31 Encounter cards
- 18 Plastic stands
The gameboard features a map of the world inside the closet in which the Boogeyman reigns. It also has tracks and spaces used for markers during gameplay. The map is divided into four areas, each with a variety of locations. The areas include Brooklyn Creek, the Ruined Zoo, Hopscotch, and the Jungle.
Each of the six character sheets show the name and characteristics of the character as well as their skills and their strength and weakness.
Players use action cards during the game to play actions as well as support actions of other players. Some action cards are stained and can have a detrimental effect when played.
Boogeyman cards are drawn and played when the coin lands on the Boogeyman side. They all have various negative effects on the players.
Loyalty cards are kept secret and let the player know if they are loyal to the Boy or to the Boogeyman. Loyalties can change during the course of the game and your victory conditions depend on your loyalty.
As the players explore the map, they find new locations, most of which have some type of effect. There are four different location areas and location cards are placed randomly within their assigned area at the start of each game, so you never know what you will find until you explore it.
As players move onto a location, they activate an encounter. Encounters can be an event, a task to complete, or activate an ally or enemy leader. These are also randomly place according to their areas.
How to Play The Stuff of Legend
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is save the boy by finding and entering the correct exit before the boy is lost.
Setting up the board is the first step. Place the gameboard in the center of the play area with the player action sheet next to it. Place the Boogeyman, Boy, Wound, and Hero Party markers in their starting locations on the board. Shuffle the seven exit markers face down and then deal one onto each of the four exit locations on the gameboard. Return the remaining three to the box without looking at them. Next shuffle each encounter deck separately and then deal one encounter card of the corresponding color to the location spaces on the board and two encounter cards to spaces with a ‘+’ on them. Set extra encounter cards facedown near the board. Now shuffle the location card decks individually and then deal them face down on top of the encounter cards on location spaces of the same color so that each space has one location card. Locate spaces on the board with a toy soldier icon and place an enemy troop marker on each of those spaces. Shuffle the Boogeyman deck and place it face down in its space on the board.
Now that the game board is setup, assign heroes by shuffling the hero cards face down and dealing out one to each player along with the corresponding hero marker. Shuffle the deck of action cards and deal out 7 cards to each player facedown. They should keep them private. Place the remainder of the deck on its space on the board, then set the coin on top of the deck. Now take the deck of loyalty cards. Separate out one Loyal to the Boy card and one Loyal to the Boogeyman card. Shuffle them and place one facedown on the unused loyalty space on the board. Take the other along with additional loyalty cards as show in the rules depending on the number of players to create a deck. Shuffle this deck and deal one to each player facedown. These must be kept secret unless a card says otherwise. Place the leader markers and the rope bridge marker near the board for easy access. Finally, turn over the location cards of the three spaces adjacent to the Brooklyn space. You are now ready to begin playing.
The Stuff of Legends divides gameplay into turns with each turn consisting of two phases: player actions and enemies activate.
Phase 1: Player Actions
Players act as a team during the game. Each turn, players may perform a maximum of three actions no matter how many players are in the game. Players choose who will take an action between themselves and anyone whose character token is not already on the action board is eligible. A vote may be necessary if the team can’t come to a consensus. There are three options: perform a basic action, play an action card from your hand, or pass and discard. If you choose the basic action, you can choose to move the heroes marker to an adjacent space. Once a space is selected, the players must have a yes/no vote to decide whether to follow through. If the no faction wins, nothing happens and the turn is wasted. If the move is approved, then move the heroes marker to the new space. Reveal and resolve the location card in that space and then resolve any encounter cards in that space as well. These cards may activate troops or leaders or have other effects on the game. The second basic action is to hide. This keeps the heroes marker in the same location, but also reduces the attention level by one. Attention determines at what distance enemies activate and who powerful those enemies are.
The second option is to play an action card that contains a description of an action. Not all action cards have an action description. In order to play an action card, you need to have the appropriate skills. Each character has two core skills they always receive when performing an action. Players can also play their action cards in support to provide enough of the skills required. Some of the action cards are ‘stained’. If one of these is played as the action or to support an action, then the weakness of the active player as listed on their character sheet is activated. Pass and discard is the third and final option. In this case, the player passes their turn and discards one of their action cards.
If a player runs out of action cards, they must immediately pick up the coin and flip it. If it lands on the Boy, then move the boy marker down the time track. If it reaches the Boy is Lost space, the game ends right then. If the coin lands with the Boogeyman face up, then the player who flipped the coin draws a Boogeyman card. These all have negative effects. Some are resolved instantly and then discarded while others are placed in front of the player who drew it or another player. Some stay on the board in the Sinister Games space and remains active until replaced by another card of that type. Once the result of the coin has been applied, the player then draws seven new cards from the deck. A player can also choose to discard the rest of their hand early at any time. They just have to call for a vote. If the team votes yes, they can discard their hand and draw seven new cards after flipping the coin and resolving its effect.
Phase 2: Enemies Activate
After the players take three actions, the turn moves to the next phase. Start off by looking at the attention level on the track with the Boogeyman marker. This number is the distance in spaces from the Hero marker that troops and leaders activate. Enemy troops within that range move one space towards the heroes, chosen by the players themselves if there is more than one option. If an enemy troop marker starts in the same space as the heroes, then the heroes take one wound for each trooper marker. Leaders within the attention range also activate. Instead of automatically moving towards the heroes, leaders have text on their card which describes their actions when activated.
When players receive a wound, they move the wound marker. The team chooses which player will take the wound. Move the wound marker one space and resolve the effect as shown on the icon on the track. A player can be forced to discard 1-3 action cards or flip the coin. If that player does not have the required number of cards, then instead discard all of the cards they have in their hand. This then causes them to flip the coin and draw seven new cards.
The game ends when the Boy marker is moved to the Boy is Lost space or when the heroes enter a space with an exit marker. During the course of the game, the players have the opportunity to peek at the exit markers. Once an exit space has been entered, turn over all four exit markers. If the players chose the exit with the highest number, or if both the 1 and 7 markers are on the board, then the 1 maker is chosen, the players loyal to the boy win the game. If they have chosen any other exit, or the Boy marker is moved to the Boys is Lost space, then the players loyal to the Boogeyman win the game.
Why You Should Play The Stuff of Legend
I had the opportunity to play The Stuff of Legend along with a couple of the 3WS team on Tabletop Simulator. Before hand I had done a quick readthrough of the rules and got a basic understanding of the game. Mike and Will were great at teaching the game as we played together to find the boy. Little did they know, though, was when the loyalty cards were passed out, I got the one that stated I was loyal to the Boogeyman. Therefore, I knew they were both loyal to the boy. So as I was learning the game, I was also trying to make our team lose the game at the same time. Since I did not want to give away whose side I was on, I played the first part of the game as if I was loyal to the boy. Right from the start, I realized there is really a lot to this game. As a team, we really had to work together and plan out each turn. There were only three of us, so each of us got to take an action every turn. Planning became even more important as enemy troops and Leaders began appearing on the map. Depending on what action cards we had, sometimes it was best to push forward while other time we decided to fight to eliminate some of the troops coming after us each turn. A few times hiding was appropriate to lower the attention level to try to leave some of the enemies from activating.
As we advanced across the map, revealing new locations and uncovering encounters, I never knew what to expect next. Since locations and encounters are randomly placed on the map, that feeling continues on each playthrough of the game. While I thought the troops were tough, the leaders were even worse and took special action cards to defeat. Our movement had a strategic purpose rather than just exploration. There are four exit locations which we needed to get near so we could peek at them. One was in the Brooklyn Creek area, one in Hopscotch, and two in the Jungle. However, we also had to explore the Ruined Zoo to find a bridge across the chasm to get to the Jungle. Until you either find both the 1 and 7 exit tokens, or peek at all four tokens on the board, you are not sure which one is correct. Then you have to go back to the highest token, or the 1 if both 1 and 7 are in the game, to win. Sometimes only one player can peek at a token, so you have to trust what they tell you.
While we were playing through the game, I was also trying to help, but not too much. If I could delay us, eventually the boy would be lost and I would win. My character was Quackers the duck. My weakness was if I played a stained card, then I had to pick a leader, location, or encounter within the attention radius and activate it. Therefore, as I played stained action cards in support of the team, it also caused us more problems. I also tried to use up as many cards as I could or discard my hand in order to “get some better cards we needed” so as I drew a new deck, I also had to flip the coin that would either move the boy closer to being lost or reveal and activate a Boogeyman card. In the end, the team lost and I won. However, this was probably due more to us triggering a lot of enemies as we moved rather than my efforts to sabotage the team.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing The Stuff of Legend. After playing through the game, I took the opportunity to reread the rules and delve into the graphic novels to get a better feel for the story on which the game is based. Having played the game I had a better appreciation of the rules and I found myself captured by the storyline. Cooperative games are one of my favorite types since I like working together with the other players. At that start, the game is somewhat carefree and does not seem too challenging. However, as the boy token moves closer to its final space on the track, more Boogeyman cards come into play, and there are a lot of troops and leaders on the board, the tension begins to increase as the game it about to end. Having the possibility of a hidden traitor in each game just adds another aspect to the tension. I highly recommend The Stuff of Legends for its engaging gameplay, great artwork and graphic design, and a compelling story which all compliment one another. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final product and play it with my family as well as my friends.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the The Stuff of Legend Kickstarter page! Th3rd World Studios has also made the first The Stuff of Legends comic available for free on Amazon. Read it to learn the background story for this great game.
To subscribe to GeekDad’s tabletop gaming coverage, please copy this link and add it to your RSS reader.