Preview: Sub Terra

You and up to five friends are trapped deep underground. Explore quickly, avoid deadly hazards, run from the darkness. Can you escape?

No, we can’t.

But that’s only because Sub Terra hasn’t shipped yet. I’m certain that a number of you a looking for a submarine game, and thinking the ship name is Terra.  But step back for a minute and realize that Sub in this case means below, and Terra means… (edit: waiting for it) Earth! You and your friends are trapped in a cave, not a man cave, a real underground cave.  There are 8 characters to pick from, and each has their own unique ability.  Apparently my suggestions: “Hold breath indefinitely” and “climbs through rock” were rejected, which I guess means this is a much more challenging game. (edit: that’s a good thing)

Sub Terra uses action points and of course there’s a way to risk the use of an extra one. It’s a pretty standard risk/reward scenario. You are given 2 action points, and if you’re willing to risk  little health, you can get a 3rd. Remember that you only have 3 health points, so giving one up is a huge deal… but might be worth the risk. Every turn you can spend those 2, or the risky 3rd, action points to do one of the following things: Reveal, Move, Explore, Heal or Run. Most of these are self-explanatory, you are trying to escape a cave after all. Explore is thevery risky one, it combined Move and Reveal. It’s faster but what if you reveal a pit, you have already decided to move to that tile. Another example of the balance between risk and reward. Love this game!

At the end of each round, each player has used their action points, the top card of the Hazard deck is revealed and must be dealt with. These all sound awful, gas, floor, tremor, cave-in. But it gets worse, Horror is another Hazard card. My first thought was that suddenly you had to beak out a game of Arkham Horror, but no. A Horror is spawned that will hunt you down and kill you. As Gandalf said many times: “Run, you fools”.  Then of course there is time, you are in a hurry aren’t you? As my fashion model girl friend once said: “I hate time and gravity”. Lucky for her, gravity isn’t a factor in this game, but time sure is. When you run out of Hazard cards, time has also run out on your flashlights.  Which makes the chance of you fumbling down the wrong hall more likely.

Dang, it;s hard to get out of this place. But it sure seems like fun.

Sub Terra is the game, not a comment not the art

The tiles look great. We love the edgeless art of cards and tiles around here. (edit: we really do) It keeps us in the game and really lets the artist pull the player into the game where a border seems to cut us off or make us think we’re looking in through a window. Borderless, always the way to go. Pictured here are two of the character cards, as you can see the art is wonderful. The cards could be a boring readout of what each character does and their special ability (edit: we’re all special) But the artist has stuck with the theme of the game and really made the characters fun to imagine.

The content of the game seem huge for such a simple concept. We really like the number of cave tiles, 66, but we’re secretly hoping that there will be expansions that include more cave tiles. (edit: not much of a secret really)

We did notice that there seem to be some math challenges, the headline says “you and 5 of your friends”, but there are a total of 8 player pieces. Not a big deal, that sounds like the headline is a typo.  We like the idea of it being a 8 player game. Maybe the sequel is the rescue team diving into the cave? But speaking of expansions, there are already 3. If you pledge a bit more than the basic game, you get these included.  That’s pretty cool. The three expansions are: Investigation, Extraction and Annihilation.  They’re thinking just like we are with these expansions. Go see what happened to your friends in the cave, get them out of there, kill whatever it was that came out after them.  Getting these three expansions seems like a no-briner to me. Gotta have’m.

Of course there are stretch goals. These run the usual gambit that we like to see, expanding the game while also improving the components. Even while writing this preview (edit: it takes days) we unlocked another stretch goal, the hardback graphic novel. Very cool.

With any game, the proof is in the actual playing of the game, but it’s obvious that some real care was taken in creating the components and that’s always a good sign. I’ll hold my breath for even more cave tiles, but I have my doubts. 66 cave tiles is a lot and plenty for a good game.

You should do as we have done and back this game!

Click the link here to go right into the cave of Kickstarter.