Dare to Love (敢愛就來)
Designer: Chih-Fan Chen
Artist: Kim Chen
Time: 40-60 minutes
Times Played: 2 times with review copy
Dare to Love is one of Mizo’s new releases for Spiel this year. As with their previous releases Raid on Taihoku, which I talked about yesterday, and Run Animals, Run!, which I have not played, the topic is serious, the tone is stark, and to a point, it is a game of experience over grand strategy. A simulation game – but of feelings. Sometimes of hopelessness.
Dare to Love predicates the following background theme for the game:
Dare to Love takes place in the Empire Asomrof where homosexuals are oppressed. During a pogrom known as the Imperial Crystal Night started in the 107th year of the Empire, all homosexuals who were arrested by the Empire were imprisoned in floating crystals and were scheduled for execution later that night. Therefore, their lovers, families, and friends seek to save their beloved ones from the Empire’s tyranny.
There are two opposing forces in the game. One player will be an Oligarch, either the Emperor, Grand Inquisitor, or the Tycoon, who must ensure the execution goes smoothly; other players will be Rebels, who must fight against all odds and save their loved ones before they are executed.
Dare to love is a 3 or 4 player one-vs-many tactical skirmish. The player representing the Oligarch will have several characters to choose from, and the players representing the lovers, families, friends of the imprisoned will also have a selection. Once selected, the players will place the corresponding son, daughter, leader, or lover into one of the prisons.
Each of the rebel players will also receive a Talent card granting a one time bonus, and another bonus available when that player’s imprisoned counterpart is freed.
The Oligarch wins if the Rebels fail to free the prisoners within 13 rounds or all Rebel players are eliminated, while the Rebels must save the prisoners and defeat the Oligarch.
Each player, both Rebel and Oligarch, take a set of cards that will be used to conduct actions. For the Oligarch, these cards represent their hand – there isn’t a deck of cards. For the Rebels though, the cards do form a deck, and the players will each have a hand of 4 cards.
The Oligarch cards often have a prerequisite for how many cards must already be in the player’s discard pile before the card can be played, taking on a programming aspect as the player determines the best order of actions.
In contrast, the Rebel cards may have effects that are free to trigger, effects that cost mana (another type of card in your deck), or both. The effects shown on a card can be activated in any order, and the activation is optional.
For clarity, these are small decks and hands of cards: the Oligarch player will have 6 cards, while the Rebel players will have 8 cards each.
Each card has an initiative number indexed in the corner, and play occurs over 13 rounds, with each round consisting of the players executing a card from their hand. Cards are chosen and revealed simultaneously, then executed from highest to lowest.
The card actions will generally involve moving, attacking, defending, or drawing cards. Attacking comes in three varieties (melee, ranged, and penetrating), and may be a set value or the result of a die roll (through an included cardboard dice tower!).
Once each player has resolved their card, the Rebel players draw until they have at least 4 cards in hand, the round maker advances, and the next round begins.
To begin, the pieces in this game are stunning. As with Raid on Taihoku, I love what Mizo does with the production of their games.
In playing as both the Oligarch and the Rebels, I’ve enjoyed the hand management of determining the best order to play the cards. As the Rebels, some cards will require three mana to activate, and with drawing up to 4 each turn, that means you must sit on those 4 cards until some sort of quad-syzygy (or use the effects of cards which permit you to draw extra) allows you to be able to activate the card. There’s a certain tension as you hope that the Oligarch won’t, well, destroy you, before you are able to pull it off.
And while I may have described the card actions as fairly dull, some of them are exciting – as rather than a simple one time roll, you may be doing something else. A “Rain of Arrows” card, for instance – while you only roll one die for the attack, you can continue to roll it until you have a certain result – dealing from 0 to all-the-damage-needed.
As a tactical skirmish game, that’s the territory you’re in – where the hand you’re dealt, and the die results you receive, can heavily influence your fate. For me, I think that’s the point – as an allegory to the game’s oppressive Empire, there’s an outsized influence on the rebels’ life that isn’t entirely under their control.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it.
Neutral. James Nathan
Not for me…