Stratos: Light in the Darkness

‘Gather, explore and much more…’

“Now more than ever, your people feel a new sense of urgency to build and prosper on this new land, calling on the greatest heroes to protect them from both the rival tribes and the monsters that tend to emerge from the darkness emanating from the fault lines throughout the island. Guide your tribe of people to 10 Prosperity points before the other(s) – if you survive…”

This is how Jacob Chodoriwsky and his team set the mood when you play Stratos: Light in the Darkness, for the first time. Jacob is the CEO and lead designer from Board & Tale Games which is located in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada).

One game of Stratos ranges from 30-60 minutes if you play with the base game. Just add another (or 2, or 3) Stratos: Light in the Darkness games and up to 7 players can join!

So if you like an exploration board game, that includes combat and character building, read along!

Stratos: Light in the Darkness

Spell cards

Discovery cards

All resources

The contents, components, and design

Stratos comes in a small box but has a lot of components. Ranging from 2 modular boards, all kinds of land tiles to unique monster figures and colorful wooden resource pieces!

You can see that Board & Tale Games has experience in developing and designing games. I especially like the spell cards. Each of these cards has a beautiful, unique design. Just like the exploration cards, they all have a small quote on them, that is interesting to read.

Let’s play!

At first, Stratos looks overwhelming with all those tiles, cards and figures. But once you’ve read the small, 12 paged manual, you quickly discover it’s easy to set up the game. We were up and running within 15 minutes. Once you’ve read the manual, the cheat cards will help you with all basics. There are 5 for each player. They show you how to take a turn, explain the actions you can take and much more.

Winning the game is easy, score 10 Prosperity Points (PP). How hard can it be, right?
These points can be scored multiple ways;

  1. Hoard resources
    Pay one of each main resource to earn one hoard card, which is worth 1 PP;
  2. Defeat enemies
    Killing an enemy earns you 1 defeat card, which is worth 1 PP;
  3. Casting spells
    When you have a mage or sorcerer in your team, you can buy and cast spells. The very first time you cast a spell, you gain 1 PP;
  4. Finding treasures
    Explorers got to explore. When they do, they may find treasure, traps or monsters. Finding treasure cards scores you 1 PP.

This is the main reason why Stratos: Light in the Darkness is so great. You can deploy your own tactics and strategies to win the game.

Let's cast a spell!

Gameplay

The cheat cards

The tiles & resources

Tiles, resources, spells and treasure

There are 4 main types of land tiles. When a character stands on one of these tiles, they can use a harvest action to gather resources;

  • Prairie: corn;
  • Mountain: nickel;
  • Desert: spice;
  • Forest: oak.

There are others like exotic lagoons and mysterious special tiles. Nobody knows if there are monsters, treasures or other dangers lurking there…

Mages and explorers can use their actions to cast spells and find treasure. These cards have PP indicators, that show they are worth 1 PP when turned face-up.

Who joins the party?

You start the game with the peasant, 1 of 5 characters. Expand your team by gathering resources and buying new characters. They all excel at one thing;

  • Peasant: stockpiling resources for your tribe;
  • Archer: protecting your people from a distance;
  • Soldier: protecting your people in close combat;
  • Mage: increase your knowledge of magic by casting spells;
  • Explorer: finding powerful treasures.

During your turn, each character can choose up to 2 actions (travel, harvest or defend). At the beginning of the game, you’ll want to harvest as many resources as possible. Then you can expand your team to take more actions, and earn Prosperity points faster!

You can promote all characters by paying resources, this improves there rolls and increases their health and/or spirit. When you promote one of your team members, attach the “promo token” on the character.

The tokens are a great addition to the game, make sure not to push too hard when attaching them. And if one might break, Board & Tale Games has you covered. If you’ve lost or broken something, send them a message and they’ll help you out.

Replacement parts are free for life.

When your team grows, you’ll need to think ahead how to use the 2 actions you’ve got. Especially when the monsters show up….

Meet the team

Time for some upgrades!

From Peasant to Cultivator!

The bad guys

Let's fight!

Someone is in trouble...

Fighting the grim reaper

When traveling the world of Stratos, trying to earn riches, there will be monsters trying to defend these riches. There is an easy monster encounter table, that requires you to roll 2 dice and compare these to the number of Prosperity points you have. If you’re unlucky you could encounter a Jabberwock, Kraken or even a Grim Reaper…

Defeating these monsters will earn you 2 PP. But it will take cunning, strength, and maybe even cooperation with the other tribe(s) to succeed!

Rolling the dice, especially in combat can be quite a challenge.  There is a luck factor when rolling the dice, and of course, I only rolled 1’s and some fails.

How Ferry Nice is this game?

In a game of Stratos: Light in the Darkness a lot can happen. Exploration, attacking, gathering, even the board itself can change! This increases the fun and replay value.

The different strategies and playing styles I’d like to compare with Scythe and that’s what I like the most. You choose if you go offensive, defensive or something totally different like exploring and gathering.

The combat for example, if you’ve gathered enough power- and combat cards in Scythe, this adds up to the equipment a character might have in Stratos. Especially if you want to take control of the special tiles (the Factory in Scythe).

If you’re familiar with King of the Dice, gathering resources is similar in Stratos. When you’re lucky and get good rolls, you’ll gather resources and win combat quickly. If you don’t, you’ll end up with fewer resources or Prosperity Points! There is a luck factor when rolling the dice, but this makes the game interesting.

The game has a lot of components, the design is unique, and having multiple ways to win the game makes it an excellent board game!

Players: 2 if you have the base game, and up to 7 if you add more games.
Playing time: 30/60 minutes for the base game, 60+ minutes if you add more games.
Complexity rating: 3,5/5
Fun factor: 4/5
Overall score: 4,5/5

Don’t forget to check the website, Instagram or Facebook of Board & Tale Games!

Want me to review your game, no problem! Send me a message by mail: ferry@ferrynicegames.nl.