Chronicles of Avel – The Battle of the Beast
The Dawn of the Black Moon booklet inside the game box sets the stage for the epic battle that is Chronicles of Avel, a cooperative 1-4 player game from Rebel Studio. Gamers age 8 and up will spend about an hour defending the land, concluding with the emergence of Kurodar’s Beast. Defeat the Beast and save Avel!
Step one in the setup for Chronicles of Avel is to just ogle at the incredible world-building in this game. I’ve never seen a family-weight game with as complete a story and fleshed out world as this. I truly hope this is only the beginning of a franchise.
Step two is to look at the full-page setup walkthrough on pages four and five of the rulebook. You’ll be building a central equipment bag, laying out lots of tokens, and cobbling together a hexagon world.
Page six shows you how to create and draw/color characters that slide into incredible player boards. (Is there anything they didn’t think of?)
Soon, you’ll be ready to dig into the world of Avel. You’re already invested with your own personal character, after all.
Gameplay in Chronicles of Avel is simple; it’s all the extra things this game has in it that add flavor. On a player’s turn, they have two actions they can use, and they can do the same action twice. The four options are Move, Battle, Tile Action, and Rest.
Here, a player moves from a hex to any adjacent one. If the target hex is face-down, the player may flip it over and put monsters on it if it has a portal for them. If two tiles have the “Shortcut” symbol on them, players may move between those tiles as if they were adjacent.
Of course, a game all about defending the world of Avel must have battle in it, right? Players start the game rolling two green dice for attacks. This may be upgraded with equipment or downgraded by some particularly nasty creatures.
Players choose to enter into battle with a creature on their current hex. Each battle has up to three clashes, where players and monsters roll dice and calculate the outcome in damage dealt. Every monster has a reward, a toughness (life), and icons to show the dice they roll for each clash.
To clash, players roll their dice pool. The monster (represented by another player) rolls their dice.
Subtract broken swords (monster) from swords (player), and shields (player) from claws (monster). The results are the damage dealt to each side. If the player isn’t stunned and the monster isn’t killed, the player may continue the battle with a second and third clash. But be aware! Some equipment can only be used once per battle.
If the player loses all of their health they are stunned. They lose all their coins and one piece of equipment. They must return to the castle but restore their hearts for the next turn.
If the player defeats the monster, they take their reward in coins, equipment, or equipment upgrades. Discard the enemy token.
Some tiles have special Tile Actions that are unique only to them. These vary but have things like selling and purchasing equipment, upgrading weapons, or even dropping a coin in the Wishing Lake. Once more, Rebel Studios has taken this opportunity to flesh out the world of Avel with these locations. I encourage you to read the rulebook to understand the actions and to appreciate the game world even more.
If a player is low on health or they don’t have a particular action they must complete, they can use an action to Rest and restore two hearts.
End of Round
Once every player has taken their two actions, move the Astrolabe Marker to the next space on the Moon track. Trigger whatever icon it highlights: either monsters respawn at all open portals, or all players recover a health point. Once the Astrolabe hits the end of the Moon track, though, everything changes.
The Beast Emerges
Kurodar’s Beast is the big bad of this game, and now he’s here. Flip over the crater token selected during setup, follow the instructions to place extra monsters, and put the giant beast on the board.
Now that the black moon has risen, all of the remaining monsters move closer to the castle after every round. If even one monster enters the castle, everyone loses! It’s a mad rush to defeat them all and the Beast to save the kingdom!
Chronicles of Avel supports solo play very well. The player will get four actions instead of two, and the Beast emerges with only 14 health instead of 20. That’s it! Everything else is the same.
This game is gorgeous. From Bartłomiej Kordowski’s beautiful cover art to the box design, every detail presents a polished, finished product to play.
Rebel Studio put a ton of extra content in the box, including an eight page reference book that serves no purpose but to embellish the world. There’s even a constellation map provided so players can roll a die and generate a name for their character.
Speaking of characters, let’s talk about that player board. Each board is double-thick cardboard which creates slots for each of the player’s five hearts, their crest, name, and backpack. There’s a removable center section so players can take their character design sheet, color it in, add features, and place it inside the board. Equipment slots over the character image in the appropriate location, and it feels fantastic to gear up your character.
This double thickness board also provides a clever, tangible equipment limit. You can pick up anything you want – but it must fit into your backpack! You’ll spend time on other players’ turns fiddling with your backpack contents, trying to maximize every centimeter. It’s a clever and effective way to handle inventory management.
We had no struggles with iconography in Chronicles of Avel. If ever there was a doubt, the full-page player aid clearly explained everything.
Our one nit to pick here is in the color selection for the monsters. Each monster has a base color: Blue, Green, or Brown. These are terrible choices. They’re difficult to discern in the varied icons that refer to them, which are small. Even on the monster tokens themselves, it can be hard to identify the colors depending on the light. It’s a small issue in an otherwise stellar product.
Chronicles of Avel doesn’t do anything particularly new and inventive with the mechanics. However, it doesn’t really need to. Everything in the game is so well implemented, logical, and reasonable, it doesn’t really matter.
Here again we do have one more small frustration: two actions is incredibly limiting. Chronicles of Avel shines as a solo game because four actions allow a player to sequence actions every turn.
But with only two actions it’s likely you may spend a turn (or two) setting a sequence up. Communication is critical! We had situations where one player killed a monster another player intended to attack on their next turn. Of course, if that level of planning is necessary, one must ask if there isn’t a better way to do it.
We have some nitpicks with Chronicles of Avel, and those issues bothered some of us more than others. No matter what, though, this is a fantastic game. We even featured it prominently in our Room to Grow: Dungeon Crawls podcast episode, and we are genuinely hoping it spawns a sequel or three.
You can find a copy for yourself on Amazon or from your Friendly Local Game Store.
Rebel Studios provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Chronicles of Avel for this review.
Thank you to Stephanie Nye for additional photos.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Chronicles of Avel - The Battle of the Beast
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 60 minutes