Kingsport Festival is a game by Andrea Chiarvesio and Gianluca Santopietro, published by Passport Game Studios. It is for 3-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of high priest of a Lovecraftian cult dedicated to dominating the city of Kingsport. They will be invoking cosmic creatures from beyond time and space to receive gifts. They will have to be very cunning as there are investigators who will be seeking to thwart them at every turn. The player that can gain the most points by the end of the Festival will be declared the winner. The rest will simply be consumed.
To begin, the board is placed on the table. The building tiles are placed on the board in their matching boxes. The Elder god sheets are placed around the board like a picture frame. The domain cubes are separated by color and placed next to the board. Each player chooses a color and takes the 3 dice, 15 disks, cylinder, summary card and token of their chosen color. Each player then places 1 of their disks on the “10” space of the Sanity track and 1 on the “0” space of the Magic track. They will also place their cylinder on the “0” space of the Cult track. The Scenario cards are shuffled and one card is chosen at random and then placed on the board face up in the Scenario space. Raid markers are placed on the Calendar as indicated on the Scenario card. If the Scenario card calls for a Festival card, it is randomly selected and placed under the Scenario card. The Investigator cards are separated into 4 stacks by the card backs. Each stack is shuffled and 1 card is randomly chosen from each. These cards are placed next to the board face down. The Event cards are shuffled and one card is randomly placed on each Investigator card. The white Time cylinder is placed on the “1” space on the Calendar. The Spell cards are separated by the symbol on the back of the cards. Each stack is then shuffled and placed face down beside the board. Play now begins.
Before the game actually begins, players must read the Scenario card to understand the effects that will be presiding over the course of the game. The game itself is played over 12 rounds with each round representing 1 month. Each round is divided into 6 phases that are played in order. Those phases are turn order, invocation, concession, expansion, raid and time. The first phase is the Turn Order phase. In this phase, all players will roll their 3 dice simultaneously and add up the total. This number determines the order of play for the round beginning with the lowest total. To represent this, players will place their colored marker on the Turn Order track in the correct order. The player in the first position gains 2 Sanity points. The second position player gains 1, while the remaining players gain none. This is indicated by the player moving their marker on the Sanity track. However, a player can never gain more than 12 points.
The next phase is the Invocation phase. In this phase, each player in turn order is able to invoke one of the Elder gods by placing one or more of their dice on it’s sheet. The values must add up to the exact number on the gods sheet. Players may not invoke a god that has already been invoked except for Nephren-Ka.
The third phase is the Concession phase. Beginning with the smallest number god and continuing in ascending order, players are given gifts for invoking a god. This is usually in the form of domain cubes of one of the many types. Players may also have to give up some sanity points to invoke a certain god. These points are deducted from their current sanity on the Sanity track. Some players may also gain the Forsee ability. This ability allows the player to either secretly look at the Event card or the Investigator card for the next raid.
The next phase is the Expansion phase. In this phase, players are able to expand their powers into the different buildings on the board. This is done by paying the resources shown on the chosen building and then placing their disk on it. They will then receive the reward that the building bestows. Players also gain the granted effect of the building tile that is on the building space during the appropriate phase as indicated on the tile. Players are only allowed to expand into buildings that are connected to one that they have already marked with one of their markers.
The next phase is the Raid phase. This phase only occurs when the time counter is on a calendar space that is marked with a blue raid marker. The event card is revealed followed by the investigator card. Players then resolve the raid in turn order. The event cards effects are applied. Players then determine the raid level and the investigator’s strength. Players then calculate their own strength by adding up any modifiers that they have earned based on spells, buildings or some other effect. They then compare their strength to the investigators strength. If the player’s strength is greater, they defeat the investigator and earn the listed reward on the card. If both are equal in strength, no reward is received. If the player’s strength is less than the investigator, they will suffer the penalty listed on the card.
The last phase is the Time phase. In this phase, the time counter is advanced one space on the calendar. If the time counter is already on the last space, the game ends. Once this happens, the Festival card is revealed and it’s effects are resolved, if there was one present. Players then compare their points on the cult track. The player with the most points is the winner.
The game comes with a whole lot of stuff inside the box. The game board is really well designed and the artwork is great. It has a lot of the look and feel of Arkham Horror to it. The Elder god sheets are thin cardboard but have some really nice looking portraits of each god on it. The back of the sheets have the effects and other information on them. The building tiles, cult tokens and raid markers are all thick cardboard. The building tiles match up the design of the building spaces on the board and they look just as nice. There are cylinders, disks and domain cubes that are all brightly colored and made of sturdy wood. The dice are equally nice and are brightly colored as well. The cards are really well done and the artwork is great. I love the backs of the cards especially. Each type of card has a really unique looking back. I thoroughly enjoy the design, the look and the feel of each and every part. It all helps to draw you into the realm of H.P. Lovecraft. I really love how cool everything looks. It’s done extremely well.
9 out of 10
The rulebook is very thematic and is really well designed as well. The cover looks like some creepy looking version of the Necronomicon. All throughout the book are the history of the different investigators with pictures of each. There are lots of great pictures and examples of play scattered through the pages as well. There is even an excerpt of Lovecraft’s works inserted in the beginning page. All of the different iconography is explained really well. Everything is well written and flows from concept to concept quite well. There’s nothing difficult to understand at all. There’s a very nice game summary on the back cover of the book to help keep you on track while playing the game. All in all, I really feel that there was a lot of attention put on making sure that the rulebook looked as good as the game. A job well done.
9 out of 10
The game is really enjoyable. It has a great worker placement feel to it. I love the theme. It’s nice to be able to play the evil side unlike in games like Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror where you’re stuck being the investigators. To me the game feels a bit like a cross between Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep. Much of the game consists of getting these little resource cubes so that you can basically purchase buildings to gain cult points. I know that sounds kinda boring but the theme is what really breaks up what might be boring to some. Like most worker placement games, you really have to think about what you need to get but not letting your opponents get what they need. The raids and investigators really make things interesting as you never know who’ll be coming after your group. It’s a great concept. I especially like how each scenario changes up the timing of these raids. There is a bit of a city building feel through the purchasing of buildings but I try to remember that this is more of exerting your influence on a particular area instead of buying a building. As long as you can keep your mindset involved in the theme, the game is really great. I didn’t find it that difficult as I am a sucker for anything Lovecraftian. For me, this game really works and scratches an itch that I didn’t realize that I had, Cthulhu worker placement.
9 out of 10
Kingsport Festival is a medium weight game of worker placement set in the Lovecraftian world. It’s not a super long game. Most sessions last around an hour and a half or so. The artwork and theme are dripping with Lovecraftian goodness. Much of the game has a very distinct Arkham Horror feel that I really enjoy. I love the look and feel of the game. I especially like being on the other side of the spectrum and playing the bad guys for once. The theme is deeply integrated into every piece including the rulebook. The game isn’t very difficult. It’s alot easier than Arkham Horror but still scratches that itch for me quite nicely. The game as a worker placement game displays a lot of the feel of Lords of Waterdeep for me as you try to get the resources you need and keep others from getting what they need. Fans of both Arkham Horror and Lords of Waterdeep should enjoy this game a lot as it effectively smashes the two worlds together in my opinion. I really enjoy playing this game and I highly recommend it. It’s one that I can see myself playing for a long time as the multiple scenario cards really change things up quite a bit, adding to the replayability factor. This is a great game that think everyone should try.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Passport Game Studios at their site.