Leviathans

Written review by Tim Griffin

Publisher: Catalyst Games
Players: 2+
Ages: 13+
Playtime: 90-120 min

Box Contents:

2 rulebooks, 8 plastic ship minis, 12 ship cards, 12 Recognition Cards, 1 Leviathans Gazetteer universe primer, 2 fiction novellas, 2 cardboard game maps (double-sided), 10 custom D12 dice and 2D6, 2 reference cards, Leviathans recognition poster, Sheet of Faction/ship crests, die cut cardboard counters

From the Box:

In 1878 the Polish genius Rynchowski isolated an electrical fluid with remarkable lifting capabilities. This single, pivotal event would change the world. The smartest military minds of the coming generation—Zeppelin, Jellico, Fisher and others – diverted their attention to the glorious new technological revolution, and sea-going battleships were abandoned around the world. In their place, armored giants took to the skies. In 1906, Great Britain launched the HMS Leviathan, the first of the “super air ships,” another step in the worldwide arms race. By 1910, the most powerful nations boasted large High Fleets, and the start of small skirmishes left the world uneasy… welcome to Leviathans!

AN ALTERNATE HISTORY GAME OF AIR FLEET BATTLES!
Leviathans simulates combat between warships that have taken to the air in an alternate history/steampunk 1910. The king leviathans, battleships, are the largest vessels. Maneuvering in support are light cruisers, destroyers, and other vessels. Will you captain your fleet for king and country, expanding your nation’s power and becoming legend? Or will you fall from the sky, forgotten?
YOU DETERMINE THE OUTCOME!

Thoughts on the game

The first thing that has to be mentioned about this game is that the company spared no expense to build a wondrous universe around it. The game comes with novellas and a primer that help to sink you deeper in the universe, so that if you read them, by the time you get to the board to play, you may just believe you are a captain of a High Fleet.

The second thing that has to be mentioned is the pieces. The components to this game are very high quality. The detail on the ships (which you can see in our component pics) is just amazing. The turrets even move! The only issue I had with them is the stand the ships go on. The peg that fits on top of the stand, and then goes into the ship, tends to stick and not want to come loose, and I am very wary of wiggling my pieces to make them come loose. In fact, the first time we played the peg broke loose from the stand when I was trying to break down the pieces and put them back in the box. Super glue did fix this though, so I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep. Which I would have done because of the third thing that needs mentioned: This game is expensive. It’s close to $100 to buy the starter box, which is steep for a brand new game without a huge player base (meaning you might not be able to find someone to play with). But it did sell very well when it first came out. Unfortunately, according to their website they had major production issues that meant the game could not continue to be packaged the way it was and be sustainable. In fact, they have started a kickstarter just to help with the repackaging. But they promise that even if the kickstarter fails, Catalyst will put forward the money to repackage the game in more affordable box sets. Now let’s get to the game!

The game play is all based around maneuvering. The ships are strongest when firing broadsides, but are more easily hit if being fired on their broadside and you can accidentally crash into your own or other player’s ships. The balance comes from the smaller ships being harder to hit and having a lot more movement points (which are spent not just in moving but turning as well). While the larger ships have bigger and more guns. Note: you can loose movement points when your engines are hit.
As far as instructions go, this game has several sets of instructions that take you from a very simple game to a very, very complex game. They have a special rulebook just for your first few games to help you get into the game. It tells you your setup and what pieces to use so that there aren’t any important decisions to make before you know what choices are better (or fit your gameplay style).

To make the game easier to play, the game comes with these templates that show all the relevant information on your ship so you don’t have to refer to the rulebook constantly. Also, this allows you to use the same mini for several different configurations. This also keeps track of all your damage which can affect different parts of the game. Guns can be destroyed, lowering your attack power, sometimes making it so a whole side of your ship cannot attack. Engines can be destroyed, lowering your movement points, making you a sitting duck. Note: all attacks are line of sight (they have distances too) from the turret that is firing. Meaning that if a ship (even your own) in the way you cannot fire at that ship.

As far as the gameplay mechanics go, even with all the rules it’s all based on moving and rolling the dices. So once you get the game going the mechanics become fairly simple. It’s the tactics of the players that make this game. You never want to be caught in a Leviathan’s (the big battleships) broadside and you always want to try to broadside the enemy. Also, the torpedoes in the game work more for forcing the enemy to move where you want them to move because they are fired on one phase and the hit the ship after everyone moves. Which means you might hit your teammates (especially if your name is Rod).
All this put together means you will have a lot on your plate when you get to your turn. All you have to do is move, right? Oh wait, can’t go over there because that battleship. Can’t stay here because the destroyer might ram me. Can’t turn right because my teammate launched a torpedo and did I mention elevation…and so on, and so on. So you need to make sure when you play this that there is some kind of time limit to each person’s turn or this could turn out to be a really long game.

Pros

+Beautiful minis
+Very Immersive
+Great components that aren’t just pretty but are very useful in the game
+Great back-story and universe
+Nice conglomeration of different game mechanics
+Good tutorials in the instructions
+Did I mention the great story yet…cuz there’s a great story

Cons

-Expensive
-Not being produced at this moment, but will be again in near future
-Takes some time to learn
-Players may take really long to take their turns

Final Thoughts

It’s very cool to go from reading a book to being able to play out one of the battles. You can feel like an actual ship captain especially when you start yelling out “firing broadside” or “Engines hit!” or “Near miss on the port side!”. So this game gets tense and fun. Overall it is a tactical miniatures game so if you have played one before you know what this is. I love playing this game, especially when Rod is playing against me, since he kills half his team for me.

I would give this a GREEN DIE!!!