We return to Turn Order this week, wading through punched sheets of tokens and tripping over box lids, with an overview of the much hyped (the hype is real friends) game Necromolds, fun for all ages.
Mold ’em! Fight ’em! Smash ’em! Recast ’em!
For those among us that grew up on Saturday Morning cartoons and the insane variety of commercials (looking at you Creepy Crawlers), you’ll be right at home with Necromolds, a board game channeling those same ’90s vibes. It’s a dice- and miniature-based board game, pitting forces of monsters against each other to determine the victor.
The box is covered in art that would be at home on a Wizard van, with a cello window that gives you a peek at the contents inside. Pulling the lid off and you’re greeted with a well organized plastic tray for all the game components. Slots for the dice, spell books, caster rings, car terrain, tokens, and clay tubs. The vibe on all this is on point.
Open up the rule book and you get a game overview and an accounting of everything in the box. How the monsters act in the game is contained in Spellbooks, which double as mold. The Spellbooks have all the characteristics and dice slots printed on them, so you can decide what your force of monsters is as you mold them up. Included are monster cards so that both players can field the same monsters and not have to share a Spellbook. One thing I really like is that all ranges, whether movement or ranged attacks, are all measured with the same triangular tool.
The book clearly walks the players through setting up a game. It lays out all the components each player starts with, dice, gems (depending on how many different monsters you have) and your caster ring (what you smash with). This leads to the coolest part of the game, where each player grabs a tub of clay and makes their playing pieces. Each monster takes a different volume of clay that is proportional to their effectiveness in-game. Big monsters take a bunch of clay, but they’re also really good. This is the balancer of the game. You can only make as many monsters as you have clay. Each player makes as many monsters, of the variety of their choice, as they can make with their tub of clay. Whoever finished making their monsters first starts with each player taking turns setting up one monster at a time, with all monsters touching each player’s board edge.
How to Play
First turn goes to the player with fewer monsters. Each player has a set of four dice, called Command Dice, that are rolled and assigned to their monsters to determine their actions. Each spell book has a limited amount of dice slots, some accepting two different dice conditions, forcing a choice to the controlling player with how they want the monster to act. Once assigned, the first player chooses a spell book to activate, resolving the actions on any or all of the monsters created from that spell book. (Author note: I’ve been playing this wrong) Activating monsters goes back and forth between players, with each resolving the command dice on spell books until they’re out of command dice. This goes on until only one player has monsters left standing on the table. The dice used for combat are D8s with a combination of attack, defense and gem sides and are random enough to make any combat not a sure-thing.
The real cool part of the game, and the part that your (insert age) year old will love, is smashing your opponent’s monster when you defeat them. (author note: it rules) (Editor’s Note: hell yeah it does). The smashed monsters stay on the battlefield, creating obstacles for the remaining monsters, as they can finish a move on top of them. The part that gets tactical is that monsters that tie in hand-to-hand combat are both smashed, while ranged attacks result in no damage to either. Hand-to-hand attacks are stronger, so getting up close leads to more decisive results and sometimes, surprise upsets with small monsters taking out much larger and more powerful foes. It’s epic to see a large foe taken down by a lesser monster; what you thought was a sure thing, ending in an upset.
Other ways to Play
Included in the rule book are rules for Solo play and a set of simplified Basic rules. For Solo play, the rules give guidance on how to generate your enemies forces and decision trees to assign Command dice and how to have the enemy monsters act. While I haven’t tried to, it looks well thought out. When I first got this game, I gave it to the daily for Christmas and my son was six. We started with the basic rules and he sort of got it. This summer, with him being seven and a half, he’s able to comprehend the full rules (still asks me to go easy on him…) and is starting to get more tactical with how he plays beyond just moving stuff around. It’s super fun to see him get excited about playing and I can see this being an introduction to tabletop wargaming for this generation, much like Heroquest and Battlemasters was for mine.
The back of the rulebook has some lore about the setting, the Necromolds having been unleashed by an evil Alchemist (plot-twist, not a wizard) harnessing the power of an ancient ring to activate the Necromolds. Written in the guise of journal entries, there’s blurbs about each monster and the caster rings. Notably, there are some gameplay notes about each monster, that are very helpful for insight into how they play, their strengths and weaknesses.
Honestly, this is just a fun, easy to learn game that can be enjoyed by adults, kids with parents, and kids alike. While it’s simple on the surface, there’s some advanced rules that add interactions between monsters and and there’s some depth to how you can play it that makes it more than just a board game. The act of physically creating your forces and then being able to smash them to show casualties is great and delightfully tactile. I love that this exists and look forward to playing it whenever my kid yells, “can we play the smash game?”
The New Kickstarter
We’d be derelict in not mentioning on this. The creators of Necromolds just ran their second Kickstarter, reprinting the boxes, new monster packs and launching an expansion that adds magic items, incremental damage, leaders, and other new things to the game. They will be accepting late pledges, so head on over and sign up to be notified. We backed it and will report back once we have that in-hand.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions drop us a line at Contact@Goonhammer.com.