By CatLord, 17 January 2019
Edge of Humanity is a deck building game from Golden Egg Games. The premise is that two to five players take on the role of leading their own band of survivors in securing a place for themselves in what’s left of the world. The game uses a variety of mechanics to give the players a sense of uncertainty to manage their hands and resources, offering multiple subgenres to the overlying theme.
*The copy of this game used for play testing was provided courtesy Golden Egg Games. Receiving a free copy has no bearing on the review below*
- Included in the Edge of Humanity box, one can find:
- A “Survival Guide” (How to reset the game to scratch)
- 1 Map (score track)
- 39 Event cards
- 49 Supply cards
- 34 Survivor cards
- 65 Action cards
- 27 Building cards
- 10 Colony cards
- 46 Life Tokens (with 36 ‘1’ and 10 ‘3’ values)
- 25 Bullet tokens
- Unlucky token
- First player token
- 5 plastic Player bases in 5 colors
- 6 Survivor figures
Due to the deckbuilding/CCG status of the game, very little transfers out of this game. The artwork has a variety of images that could be stand ins. Player tokens and their mounts could potentially show up in other places with some creativity, and the art is pretty versatile. Beyond that, there is nothing to focus on.
Setting up the game requires a little diligence. Each player gets their starting colony card (which more or less just determines their play area) and the accompanying starter deck. They shuffle this starter deck and draw five of the ten cards. A Survivor row is created shuffling the survivors together then revealing the top five side-by-side with the fifth one having the “unlucky token” above it, indicating the end of the track. Then the appropriate “Main Deck” cards are shuffled together using a combination of buildings, actions, and supplies. A pair of cards is flipped over for each player, with the stacks kept separate and visible for ‘trading’ later on.
Edge of Humanity is then played in five phases.
A basic layout for a game in progress for two players
First, an event card is flipped. On the back of the top event is a journal entry describing the tribulations of all of the survivors, which reveals a new event complete with effects. Once everyone has reacted to the event (usually discarding, paying health, or supplies), the player with the “first player” token can take an action. An action could be constructing a building, using certain special abilities, or (like most deck building games) using an “Action” card from your hand. This can, of course, grant you more actions to play and often has a cost such as discarding a card, ‘trashing’ (sending to a central discard) a card – usually supplies, or spending/gaining health. Once this is done, the player refills their hand. If they need more cards than they have in their deck, they take a survivor from the survivor row, add it to their discard pile, shuffle that pile, then use it as the new deck to finish drawing their hand.
After every player has concluded their turn they move on to the trading phase. Starting with the first player, each player gets to “bid” a card facedown from their hand. When everyone passes, the sum of all the supply costs for the now revealed bid cards is compared, with earlier turn order breaking ties if no other ability mitigates the difference. Going from highest to lowest bids, each player takes one of the stacks from the trade area. Upon getting their new cards (added to the respective player’s discard pile), they may recruit a survivor from their hand if they have the supplies. Beyond that is the “Clean Up” phase, where the trade piles are restored (the one leftover pile gets one card added to it, making it a juicier target for bidding later), the survivor at the unlucky token is removed, and the survivor row is replenished. Then it’s back to phase 1.
Three scenarios accompany the core game, and all of them include ten event cards. When the last event is revealed, that marks the last turn for players to make one last grab for Victory Points. As they attain VP, their survivor token (on the color base matching their colony) is moved along the map. Even if the card granting VP is lost, the players do not lose points, which is why the track is important rather than just what’s in the play area.
In this player’s area, if you pardon the glare, there is a survivor, a complete building, and a building in progress.
The artwork within the game is consistent and well done. Every card has an image, and they all seem to be very detailed in a gritty style.
Edge of Humanity offers a variety of moving parts to make its mechanic. You draw your hand in the middle of your turn, just before bidding for new cards and putting your new survivors into play. It’s possible you will deplete your hand before you see the next event, putting you in a very tight spot if you overextend. The bidding in the trading mechanic puts you in competition with other survivors for the same, (technically) finite resources which is the only directly competitive aspect to the game. The deck itself is not a measure of health, there is actually health you have to monitor with tokens to track the wellbeing of your survivors. Zero means you lose. It offers a lot of variety in how to strategize turns.
The scenarios included with the game go over three settings: Superflu, nuclear winter, and alien invasion. There are a few cards for any given deck (colony, main, survivor) and a completely different event deck with its own story. Where there is a core mechanic that doesn’t change, it allows for different themes depending on what your players like.
As with most card-based games, the actual layout of everything tends to be whatever fits the space you have. No main board dominates the table.
Bouncing from the last Positive Aspect, even without a formalized setup there is a decent demand for space with needing a trade area, a survivor area, the map for scores, plus a colony space for all the players. An individual player’s space is usually small, but everything adds up.
Cat hazards are always worth keeping in mind. A game relying on all the cards being in the right places is rather prone to one strafing run from your local furball.
Every game is cat tested when CatLord is on the case!
Despite all the strategizing once you have your hand, you are at the mercy of your hand draw and your poker face during bids for most of your success. An interesting bidding mechanic can be ruined solely by the fact that nobody wants to waste their resources before they know what the next event demands of them.
A low priority negative aspect is that ten turns is a very short time in deck builders. Oftentimes you haven’t even built a strategy before turn seven. There are rule variants saying to play until you reach a certain score or even to eschew the event cards overall, which could remedy this and give the play experience you desire.
So far this game is built for future expansions. Contrasting the variety of stories in the events, the gameplay itself is (by designed) the same. When you get away from the event card, it’s all the same market and no other players truly affect the others most of the time. The biggest drawbacks to this game are that while they had the foresight to leave space for expansions within the core box, the game you buy is three quarters empty space. The box used for this review was provided by Golden Egg and sent directly from them. This could very well be the condition your FLGS receives the game in as well. Due to the empty space, the sprues had parts punched out during the shipping process. Thankfully they were not damaged or missing as one might fear.
Some pieces where scattered from their sprues on delivery.
There is so much empty space, and the box is taller than the cards so you have to be careful not to shake or tilt the box if you don’t want to spend time on your next game sorting everything out again.
The box creates larger expectations in parts than are delivered
Edge of Humanity delivers a game with a fresh view on deck building mechanics, at the cost of gameplay that quickly stales. The art is great, and the card layouts are intuitive. The rules are fairly easy once you get used to them, but sometimes you have turns where you can do nothing because of a bad draw in a game where time is in precious little supply.
When it comes to this game, is it fun? This concept varies by the game. Sometimes it’s a thriller where you’re sweating your next hand, and the first time through every scenario comes with the excitement of what new aspects are introduced. In a couple of test games, the first two turns yielded such a wide score gap that the rest of the game was a formality.
After the end of society, Edge of Humanity gets three buns, with an argument for an extra half depending on the direction the product goes.