Emil Larsen's Rogue Angels is a 1-4 player fully cooperative legacy game. Tho' ostensibly set in the universe of his 2013 game Burning Suns (Sun Tzu Games), we're certainly not the first to note that its look and feel is very reminiscent of the Mass Effect (EA - Electronic Arts) videogame franchise.
In Rogue Angels, players are mercenaries working together to succeed in a succession of missions that unfold story-like as you undertake them. All have a couple of similar basic cards but you'll otherwise have a hand of action cards that are more or less unique to each character. On your turn you'll play cards from your hand to take two actions. When an action card is played it is placed on your character's cooldown track, which means that card can't be played again until it is returned to your hand a specified number of turns later. This means players will have to carefully manage their hands, plan their actions and coordinate with each other to optimise their effectiveness. Cards only move down the cooldown track when you 'rest' (automatically at the end of your turn). There are also custom six-sided dice that will modify your card actions; for example, adding to an attack, strengthening your armour or giving you additional movement.
You'll be playing action cards not just for movement and the inevitable combat with the various AI-controlled enemies you'll encounter but also to interact with objects such as computer consoles and locked doors. This is done by drawing coloured tokens from a bag. To succeed you need to draw three matching colours, but tokens aren't always returned to the bag so there's an element here of both bag-building and push your luck. And when it comes to combat, you'll be up against a cleverly designed AI system. Enemies, for example, the guards in the mission shown in our Board's Eye View, are controlled by cards, but we especially liked the way in which actions previously taken by the players could affect those of your AI opponents. We were impressed by the way that this delivered an AI-controlled foe that behaved more 'intelligently' and was certainly more responsive than their equivalents in other dudes-on-a-map games; and it's remarkable that Emil Larsen has managed to achieve this so well here without imposing an overly complex rules overhead.
Tho' some of our Board's Eye View team thought the use of action cards and the cooldown mechanic reminded them of Gloomhaven (Cephalofair Games), there are several key differences, including the fact that it's the players rather than the cards that determine initiative. The characters will need to work together effectively to successfully make their way through the twists and turns of a mission, and the choices made on the order in which players take their actions each round is an important aspect of the cooperation demanded by the game.
The set up for each mission reminded us of Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games) but without all the faff of having to sort through tiles to assemble the modular board. Instead, in the published version of Rogue Angels, the numerous different set-up boards will be pages that fold out from a book. We've so far only played the first couple of missions, and with just the three characters that were in our early preview prototype, but the published version of the game promises >80 missions, of which you can expect to encounter maybe half in completing a campaign. The published game is also offers 16 different playable heroes, and injuries can be carried forward from one mission to the next so it's envisioned that characters won't all survive to the end of the campaign...
When we first published our preview of Rogue Angels: Legacy of the Burning Suns, it had already gone live on Kickstarter. It fell short of its funding target so SunTzuGames cancelled the KS for a reworking and relaunch. Now the game is back and its Kickstarter campaign is already well underway. It's already raised more than double its funding target and is rapidly powering through its stretch goals. There's just a week to go on the KS campaign so clear here now to check it out.