Before I begin, I was sent a prototype and will receive a copy of the game should it fund in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather watch a video of this preview check it out below, and you can back it on Kickstarter here.
I have the utmost respect for my fellow reviewers, I seek out their advice and value what they have to say. However, when Mike from One Stop Co-op Shop told me he had a lead on a 4x Co-op game that he thought I might be interested in trying to preview, I about laughed in his digital face. What did he think I was? A fool?! 4x games are about crushing your opponents into so much dust, then using that dust to make flour, using that flour to make bread then use that bread to feed your armies as they populate that land once belonged to said opponents.
However, that is just what Uprising purported itself to be. A 4x Co-op that can be played solo or with up to three other players. Now, I like the idea of 4x games, but I do not play them much as I am not very good at them. Luckily, I managed to wrangle a preview copy to check out, perhaps this would be the 4x game that really worked for me.
In the world of Uprising you are at the end of days. The previous emperor of the evil (perhaps just misunderstood?) empire meddled in things he should not have, and wound up cursing the land. That curse resulted in a door to chaos being opened. This is where you come in. The players are the remnants of civilization fighting to defeat what remains of the empire and the ever present chaos. At the end of the game if all player factions have more points that both the Empire and Chaos then you will win.
The game is played over 2-4 chapters (turns). Each chapter will begin with an event. These events will give you some story about what is happening, and then there will be two results. Often the first result is in some way beneficial to the players, but the second is always horrible, and put out big bad evil things that are bent on destroying each other, but only after they have destroyed you.
Just before you main turn begins you will be able to spend all of your resources to put out units on the board at one of your havens. From there you will have 8 actions to take. These actions might be moving your hero around the board, exploring with your hero, buying things from the market, trading with other players, going on quests to hopefully give yourself a boon of some sort (though if you mess it up there will be a penalty), moving your armies, and battling the various evils.
Combat is all dice based. Depending on the units you have, and the threat of the bad guys you will build a dice pool of various colored dice. The darker the color, the better the die is, in general. Combat starts with a ranged round, where units with range get to make an attack before the real fight begins. The dice will either give you nothing, a skull (a kill), a shield (blocks a skull), or a lightning bolt (special powers!). Once the ranged combat ends you enter into melee fighting, and you roll your dice back and forth until the threat is destroyed, or you are destroyed utterly.
Each round will end with scoring, where the enemy faction gains points for every other faction they have destroyed units from, and for various models that they still have on the board, and players earn points for the havens they have out on the board. Rinse, repeat, try not to die.
So what do I think?
It accomplishes what it sets out to do. It does feel like a 4x game, and the co-op works so very well. Along with this the difficulty ramp up is just masterfully done, in my opinion. Additionally, so many of the mechanics are delightful on their own, but they mesh together seamlessly. I am a particular fan of the questing system, and how the heroes work, but everything else is very well done as well.
I also think they have nailed the asymmetrical-ness of the factions. They all play differently, and feel different; yet they are not so different that there is an major learning curve each time you try out a new faction. Bonus points awarded for the vastly different hero options you get with each faction.
The art and components promise to be very good, and the game has an awesome table presence. It really does look awesome once you get it all out there.
I have two things to caution you about. The first is that though the game looks great on the table, it is a table hog. This is a game that is not necessarily meant for a human sized table. This, of course, also means that the game does take a little bit to set up and tear down. The second thing to be warned about is that this is not a game for beginners. It is a heavy game that has a lot going on, so it is not going to be one that you can pick up and play right out of the box, there will be a learning curve.
Bringing it all together
Uprising is, truly, a co-op 4x game. I did not think it was possible but it has succeeded. I think this game is just fantastic, and if one that every co-op, and/or 4x fan should be checking out. It is on the heavier side when it comes to rules and will take a bit to fully grasp but once you do it is an awesome challenge that will offer more and more every time you come back to it. It has a good table presence, though it is a table presence that is massive! I usually avoid playing 4x games as I am not particularly skilled at them, but this is one that I cannot wait to play with others just as soon as I am able to.
Yeah, less talk, more fighting chaos
* Has all the elements of a good 4x game but is completely cooperative
* Very good faction asynchronous-ness, different but not so different to create a huge learning curve every time you try someone new
* Great table presence, though one that takes up the entire table
* This is a heavy game that will take some time to learn, but once you do it is will be extremely rewarding
* Hands down the best 4x game I have played