By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on June 2, 2021
While I was doing some investigating into which game would be the subject of my next review, for you poor reading souls, I discovered something very disturbing, at least for me. For unknown reasons we have never ever talked about one of my favorites publishers, Inside Up Games, here in our good old All Aboard review section (Sorry Conor). But we'll change that! Right here, right now!
Now, seeing as how reviewing every Inside Up game I own at once would result in a story that would rival even the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in length, we'll do it one game at a time. So, without further ado, let's start our Inside Up Games review spree with 7 Souls, formally known as Rise of the Elder Gods. A somewhat creepy card game, with some awesome art done by Rhys ap Gwyn, and inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Players will have to act as an Elder God, seeking to control 7 Souls for their own devious plans and advantage over the other Elder Gods.
In the box of 7 Souls you will find a very convenient insert for all your cards and tokens. The awesomeness continues with a very convenient game board which includes a lot of infor-mation for an easy set up. There are two types of tokens in the game, Power tokens and Soul tokens. And as you may expect from a card game, a shitload of cards. Corruption cards, Altars, Revelations, Blessings, Investigators and for every player seven Character cards; the poor souls under your control.
In 7 Souls, you'll need to control seven characters and use them to corrupt investigators searching for the truth. Yeah, I know; it's about time to freak the shit out of these investigating bastards until they go insane. On the board there are three locations; the Miskatonic University, the Whateley Manor and the Ancient Temple and above all of them, there's a space to place an Investigator card. Then, going down the location column, there are three pools that must be filled with either Power tokens, Soul tokens or Corruption cards, depending on the icons on the board. Players will get their Characters cards to keep in hand. You also receive four horror cards and one Focus card, with which you'll build your Corruption Deck by simply shuffling them, and one Power Token.
At the start of the round, you need to pick three Character Cards from your pile of seven. It's with these three cards that you'll battle the other Elder Gods for the right to pick up tokens or Corruption Cards, or even try and corrupt an investigator. Simultaneously, every player will send their Characters to the three locations, one for each of them. Now, this can be a bit hectic (and fun), because it's a matter of every player frantically trying to place their cards in the right position, all at once. Once all the players have put down their cards in the appropriate locations, one player flips them over, one location at a time. The order of placing and the initiative on the card, determines the order in which they are activated. When players are competing for control of the same Character, those players must test that Character's loyalty before they can activate them.
Activation means the player can choose from one of the group of icons, found on the left side of the card. Available actions after activation are: take one Power token, one Soul token, one Corruption card, give one Horror card away or Corrupt an Investigator. As I've just mentioned, when multiple players are vying for control of the same soul, they'll have to test that Character's loyalty before they can activate them. This must be done by using your Corruption Deck, possibly enhanced by the use of your Power Tokens. The players that are contending for the control of a specific soul, first decide if they wish to use a Power Token or not. These nifty little items basically give you a +1 if you manage to turn over a Focused (1 eye) or a Determined (2 eyes) card. If you turn over a Horror card, the token does nothing and is simply lost. The players then turn over the top card of their Corruption Deck. The player with the most Corruption (the number of eyes on the card plus any Power Tokens they may have put into play), wins the battle and may control the soul in question for that round. So that player picks up a few tokens or cards, or tries to corrupt one of three investigators in play. This is done in kind of the same way as battling another player for control of one of the souls.
On the investigator card, you'll see two numbers; one for the number of cards you may use against him, and the other for the number of focus points needed to corrupt the investigator within the set amount of cards. If you manage to gain the necessary points within the given number of cards, the investigator will be corrupted and you may take it and put it down next to you. When all locations have been resolved, one of the investigators will attack. His card will tell you which of the player or players in that location will be attacked. That player or duo of players will have to either battle the investigator by using their Corruption Deck, or hand in the resources listed on the Investigator's card. All cards used in these battles will be taken out of play. Whenever two of three pools in one location on the board become empty, players finish the round and the game ends. Every player tallies their points and the Elder who has managed to gather the most points, wins the game.
I really like it when someone turns a somewhat creepy and occult theme into a family friendly board game with awesome artwork. With 7 Souls that is exactly what Conor and his publishing house Inside Up Games have accomplished. The art is astonishing and it just got that little bit of gore that I like, but not so bad that it might scare children.
To be honest, there is quite a lot of luck involved in the game and the Loyalty Checks can become freaking annoying, especially when you get a couple of them in a row, right when you were planning on corrupting an Investigator. On the other hand, it's also this mechanic that brings a lot of player interaction to the table, especially when trying to get those poor Souls under your control.
We have had the full explanation from Conor himself during Spiel and Spiel.digital, so it doesn't get any better than that, but even without Conor's help, it's throughout possible to figure out the this fun game for the whole family. The rulebook is easy to understand and looks great My oldest son just turned five and I am already looking forward when he can play this game, cause he would probably love the art and the player interaction. The game plays fantastic and relatively quick, with a typical game lasting for about 30 to 40 minutes, even with higher player counts. So unleash your inner Elder God and start corrupting some souls!
Inside Up Games
Year of release: 2020
Designer: Conor McGoey
Artist: Rhys ap Gwyn
Players: 1 - 6 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 30 - 40 minutes