This is Part 2 in my series of posts about all the news and updates coming out of Gen Con for Kingdom: Death Monster. You can read Part 1 here where I speculate when we might realistically expect Wave 3 with the delay.
Adam has said that with the Strain System, he is now able to work on smaller pieces of content for the game that still can have a meaningful impact. Kingdom Death had two strain-related Gen Con releases this year, which will be available on the store likely any day (minute?) now. The first is Echoes of Death 2, a followup to last year’s Echoes of Death 1. It introduces an additional 4 strain milestones and unlockable fighting arts, similar to the first EoD. Adam did make a slight rules tweak to strain fighting arts, you can now only have a maximum of 5 in your fighting arts deck at a time to avoid your game getting bloated with crazy strain fighting arts (you do get to choose which ones to keep in).
The even bigger news was he released a new monster, the White Gigalion. Adam had teased an early version of the sculpt for this monster at the end of the video in the Black Friday update, started production on it in January, and managed to have it ready in time for Gen Con. This is the first new monster to be released for Kingdom Death since the 1.5 release of Gold Smoke Knight (almost 2 years!), and it is the first in what will presumably be a series of “Vignettes of Death” promo monsters sold on the store and/or Gen Con. It is a standalone showdown that comes with 4 survivors (along with gear grids and stat cards) that you can play outside of a full campaign, making feasible to demo and play this at a game night with friends without the 30-lantern year commitment.
THE VIGNETTE SHOWDOWN
The White Gigalion is a variant of the White Lion that uses the White Lion’s AI and HL decks, but has a few slight tweaks. The sculpt is on a 100mm base, so it takes up more space on the board. It has two new trait cards make its Grab a little more deadly (it grabs all adjacent survivors with a 20% chance of a bleed effect), and it always runs away from survivors at the end of its turn making it tricky to catch up to and attack. It’s life, damage, toughness, etc are the same as the Level 2 White Lion, but has +1 additional movement, probably to compensate for the larger base. It has one additional hit location with a nasty reflex, has a beefed up variant of Sniff if it can’t find a valid target, and always starts the showdown by playing Smart Cat (meaning that you will likely have 2 moods in play from Turn 1).
It plays like a White Lion mixed with a Screaming Antelope. It’s going to behave more-the-less exactly like a Level 2 White Lion would, except that at the end of a turn it will grab all adjacent survivors, and will run away from remaining threats regardless of whether or not it grabbed somebody. I went back and forth on whether or not the White Gigalion would run away if it grabs nobody, but the Vicious trait card as written doesn’t have an “if adjacent to at least one survivor” qualifier like Cunning does, and also Rule of Death (NOTE: I was merely invocating “Rule of Death” in my phrasing here to keep my summary brief, but there may have been some confusion that I was using Rule of Death in the incorrect context. To be clear, the rules as written for Gigalion would dictate it always moves, no ambiguity that would necessitate a Rule of Death ruling mid-play). If you find chasing a Screaming Antelope around the board annoying, you are going to hate this fight. Starting the showdown with 2+ moods right off the bad can be nasty, especially if Enraged is one of them, but you can also luck out and just get a single mood, or incredibly lucky and no moods at all.
The four survivors that you use in the vignette showdown are pretty well-geared for the fight. They come from a settlement known as Deadrock, which two narrative sculpts in Gambler’s Chest also come from, so I presume this is Adam’s personal/pet settlement name. All the survivors have rock-themed names, and one of them even has a lovelorn rock. Gadrock has a full White Lion armor set with bone knuckles and Gorn, works well as a support class for this fight but can pounce in himself and do some decent damage. Hungry Basalt has a full Gorm set, a shield, and an axe, so can take on the roll of a tank or can do reliable damage. Breccia has a full leather set and whip, so she can be used to try to remove moods. She also has slotted monster grease, so can potentially evade tank in the tall grass. The Rock Knight, my favorite of the group, doesn’t have a complete armor set, but is wearing entirely bone gear plus the Bone Earrings, so she starts the showdown with +2 speed and +2 strength! She also has bone darts, and she is clutch for sniping the kitty when he gets far away (hopping on top of the Stone Face will give her additional accuracy and range). Note that for Hungry Basalt, while you don’t need to own the Gorm expansion to play this, you will at least need to know that the Gorm armor set bonus is that if he is to take two or more severe injuries in a single attack, he only takes one.
I’m no expert on fighting the White Gigalion, I’ve only done the fight a couple times and lost most, but my suggestion in this fight at least is to save your survival for dashes to catch up with the White Gigalion and attack it. This means that you will need to just take hits and grabs if it’s not going to cause a severe injury to the head or bleed you out. If you are lucky, you might be able to burn it down in 3 turns before you likely run out of survival and have to get more creative with catching up to it. Using Gadrock as a support role to boost Basalt and Rock Knight’s damage may be a better use of his survival than having him chase after the lion as well. If things start going south after a round or two, just reset it and try again. I won’t judge. Unless of course you are playing it in the campaign.
STRAIN MILESTONE AND CAMPAIGN INTEGRATION
The White Gigalion comes with a strain milestone that if you defeat it in the vignette showdown, you add the White Gigalion to all campaigns that have the White Lion in it going forward. I won’t spoil the flavor text, but it explains why this is the case. It doesn’t fully replace the White Lion, you can still choose to fight the White Lion in most cases (and there is no Level 1 White Gigalion, only Levels 2 and 3), but the Dead Antelope event will always trigger a White Gigalion going forward.
So why bother choosing to fight a White Gigalion? For the gear of course! Aside from dropping a few more resources, White Gigalions drop a Hooked Claw strange resource that lets you craft a couple additional gear pieces, all of which are pretty awesome:
- Hooked Claw Knife – When your wound causes the monster to react by moving, it causes an additional wound. You will tear lions and antelopes to shreds with this.
- Lion Slayer Cape – Reduces all damage suffered by 1 (to a minimum of 1) if wearing fur armor
- Oxidized Beast Katar – Deadly paired katars that get +4 on a perfect hit (with a base 5 strength)
- Dense Bone Arrows – You never run out of these arrows, and they are sharp!
Some pretty cool builds you could make with all this gear, and in my opinion make the White Gigalion very much worthwhile going after, as long as you have Dash!
VIGNETTES AND VARIANT MONSTERS GOING FORWARD
Vignettes of Death will likely be a big hit on the store, probably sell out its initial print run quickly, and will probably be an on-going series he releases at future Gen Cons. In the update, he teased that the next vignette will be the Nukealope, a Screaming Antelope that ate a Nuclear Scythe (and likely the Gen Con 2020 release).
I’ll go over this in more detail when I talk about Campaigns of Death (which probably will be my next post), but it sounds like variant monsters like this will be more common as part of the Strain system. Adam is very much interested (obsessed?) with the ecology of the Kingdom Death world, and the Strain system is the representation/manifestation of survivor’s actions having a direct impact on that ecology. As a result, expect to see a number of mutations/strains of existing monsters, some of which might just be introducing new trait cards, while others may introduce new models/sculpts like this one, or even entirely new campaign story arcs (once again, more on that to come in the Campaigns of Death post).
I’m not terribly worried about vignette and/or variant monsters becoming an easy cash-grab for Kingdom Death. They’ve already proven they have tons of original monster ideas in the works, and so far these variant monsters have been in addition to what was initially promised in the Kickstarter. Now that Kingdom Death is capable of releasing a monster on their store without going through Kickstarter, this does raise a question about whether or not Adam will return to the Kickstarter model on future endeavors, which I will also discuss further in a later post about the future of Kingdom Death after Wave 4.
SO IS IT WORTH THE $75?
If you’re new to Kingdom Death and are looking to pick up expansions, this would not be at the top of my list of expansions to get. In terms of plastic, this expansion seems on par with what you would get in a single-monster expansion at a similar price, but the it lacks the amount of content that the existing monster expansions have. I would suggest getting Gorm, Flower Knight, Dung Beetle Knight, Sunstalker, Dragon King, and Spidicules first before getting White Gigalion, as all of those expansions will give you new quarry monsters with brand new AI and HL decks, new Fighting Arts, Disorders, Terrain, and tons of new gear to craft. Once you start getting into the nemesis and special monsters (Lion Knight, Manhunter, Slenderman, Lion God, Lonely Tree), it gets a little more debatable which to get first, as those expansions will provide you fresher experiences and more content overall, but you will probably get more mileage out of having the White Gigalion as a quarry monster. Depending on what changes to some of these monsters come in Campaigns of Death, I might even push some of those ahead of White Gigalion when we have Wave 3.
For people that already own the existing content and want something new, I recommend picking this up. But maybe wait until it goes on sale at Black Friday.