Updated: Jan 29
Rogue Angels: Legacy of the Burning Suns is a sci-fi dungeon crawler for one to four players. It is hitting kickstarter this year. I will add a link when live. This is an early prototype version and does not represent the finished game, art or components.
Rogue Angels is from SunTzuGames, a Danish game publisher owned by Emil Larsen, who is a lieutenant in the Danish Army. You can feel the military efficiency throughout this game. On the surface, this is a fairly standard dungeon crawler, but with a very engaging sci-fi theme. But overlaying this, is a twisting narrative that links each game together and some very clever mechanics. It is hard to get a complete feel for this with the demo copy, there are only a few missions I can do, with a few characters. But there certainly is enough here to get me excited. And boy am I excited! You can find out more here.
Rogue Angels brings a mix of strategic card and dice based combat using different asymmetric players. In the demo there are three characters to chose from. Each game needed two characters to play with, and even with these limited choices in the demo copy, due to the asymmetry, the choices seemed important. The characters all come with their own character pack, unique and gorgeous character art, and a mix of interesting abilities.
As you play through each level, the decisions you make will affect your character for later missions, not only with their own powers, but the way the interact with other characters. This creates many divergent paths for the story to go down. But this is only the beginning.
From the publisher "Set in the Burning Suns universe, you will be travelling a diverse galaxy with various factions all vying for their way of life. You get the opportunity to become a hero, shield civilians from conflicts, defend your spaceship from boarding enemies, and help save the galaxy. But be careful, as your team will be tested in numerous scenarios and face difficult choices in and outside of combat, and you will not be offered a second chance.
As a leader you must be willing to sacrifice everything and your legacy to bring peace to the many species of the Burning Suns."
Playing Rogue Angels feels familiar to other dungeon crawler games but there are some clever uses of the cards and mechanisms by which the cards are returned to your hand. Players will take it in turns to take two actions, using the cards in their hand to do so. Each card has a cool down level, and when played, must be placed under your character sheet. After each players turn, you will shift each card down one place. When they come off the track, they are returned to your hand. This feels similar to the cool down track in the Funkoverse games, and works very well. The more powerful cards cannot be over used, as such hand management becomes crucial.
The available actions are focused largely around moving and fighting, but there is nice variation for each. The card's choices and style echo to those in Gloomhaven. But the cool down track is a more engaging way to get them back into your hand then short or long rest. It feels more realistic and less frustrating!
Each mission starts with a briefing using the Campaign Book. I think the experience of this alone when done with the finished product will feel special. Using the available PDF and prototype parts, I still felt very excited to try each mission. But not being a huge fan of the virtual world, it did somewhat detach me from the game. However, you can clearly see the potential once the final game is made. The story is deeply engrossing and very well thought out. There is a whole universe here to be transported too. This is not just a bit if flavour text and off you go. There is backstory, dialogue, a whole galaxy of stories. And the game isn't that far far away!
The game starts slowly, giving you a chance to get used to the rules and mechanics. You simply need to get your commander to a certain place on the map. You have a time limit in which you must do this, but it should be easily achievable. Once you achieve the introductory mission, you begin to get a flavour for the way Rogue Angels will work. The rules state that if successful, you are to read mission C1. If not, you must restart the mission. C1 offers a mission update, where things start to happen on the map that feel real. It feels like what you do has genuine consequences and the things that are happening are coming from a place of truth.
This is not a case of setting up a new map and simply adding a few monsters to fight because they happen to be there. (Although there is some of this). Through the campaign books detailed story, you feel a part of the world you are in. A world that is evolving around you, not being set up for you.
Inevitably, after a while you sill start to take some damage. Rouge Angels handles this in a very interesting way too. Damage cards are drawn, and offer varying degrees of damage, in interesting ways. It is not always a simple case of "loose one health." It makes losing health a genuinely exciting thing!
The games characters all have their own unique powers. The player boards are double sided, one side for a more simple game, and the one shown here which gives you the chance to make changes to your character. They have a simple and clear layout and are in constant use throughout the game. The area on the bottom left is where you will mark spaces that will permanently affect your players abilities in the later games.
As the game progresses, the missions will get more complicated and difficult as you would expect, but what is less expected, but very welcome are the choices for the team that present themselves that trigger divergent paths. After a few missions, (NO SPOILERS) you will need to decide who can you trust, who lives, and who dies! Your choices as a team will affect your characters attributes and the story your characters are telling. This is the part of the game I love the most. It fuses the previously engaging dungeon crawler into a choose your own adventure style narrative, in a unique, fresh, and deeply entertaining way.
Everything in this game feels like it has been made my someone who loves the genre, and has asked themselves one simple question. How could I make this part better? Even the way the AI controls the enemies in movement and battle feels fresh. Cards are used to determine how they move, where they move, and what they do when they do there. This is based on a number of parameters including which player is the mission commander, and the level of damage players have. This makes sense right? Enemies would treat an injured foe differently to one that stands untouched in front of them. Rogue Angels takes this into account.
I have really enjoyed my time with this prototype. I long to try the finished version. Components, art, and theme are all important to me, so considering how this game has gripped me with the modest prototype says a lot about this games potential. I look forward to watching the kickstarter and hope it is a huge success. The game has so much potential and I cannot wait to see more.