Forges of Ravenshire preview — forging ahead towards a bright future

Cute woodland creatures, master blade/armor/shield smithing, and dice/tableau management all come to a head in B.A. Games latest game, Forges of Ravenshire. Having had the pleasure of meeting Sam Stockton, the lead designer of Forges of Ravenshire, I instantly gravitated towards the game and could not wait to get a peek under the hood, as it were. A quick rundown and interview about the game told me I had something special in front of me.

Fast forward to a short time after that and I had my hands on a prototype of the game and a pretty solid prototype at that. This being said, there were definite areas where you could tell the pieces or boards were a prototype, and others where if I did not know about it being one, I would not have been able to tell you that it was a prototype. Enough about that, what really matters, and where we can really get into what is the genuine article here is how Forges of Ravenshire was one of the highlights for me of GAMA Expo 2023. Having the opportunity to get to play an advance copy of the game, I could not be more excited for its release in 2024.

What makes Forges of Ravenshire so special are a few different things. One such item is that while most games you play off of a main board, Forges utilizes a mainboard yes, but really encourages players to utilize their own board by having you recruit different members to your guild, using different dice for different outcomes of the production phase placement, and providing many contracts you will gain throughout the game, and allows different types of finishes for those contracts to gain more rewards. There is also the unique action selection system which uses one of your dice by placing it on an open action space and gaining resources. That however is only the first part of the action selection. The second half offers players a similar avenue of gaining resources; however this time they remove a dice from the board gaining the resources as they take a die.

This placing and removal of the dice, will dictate the amount of resources gained simply based on the number of the dice themselves and their representation on the board. After that you simply run your guild. Running your guild involves the three guild tracks on each player’s board in order to gain more resources through contributions of recruited guild members. Recruiting guild members come in the form of tiles that are one of the six action spaces on the main board. While you gain a guild member you still have to pay for their services whenever you first recruit them and then they go to one of three specific guild tracks. Filling up your guilds with members becomes part of an engine that you will run to gain more resources.

All these resources I keep mentioning are integral to the game and winning. You see the game is about becoming the new forgemaster, and to do so you have to make the most gold, and to make the most gold you have to complete contracts that reward the gold, and to complete the contracts you have to have the resources that are required for those contracts. After you complete a contract you gain gold, and potentially some reputation, or an action token to name a few. What this ultimately leads me back to is how brilliant the action system is, even though it has a bit of simplicity at its core. One of the other aspects that Forges of Ravenshire introduces are the action tokens, which allow players to perform free actions to further grant players rewards and advance their positions in game. With all of that in mind teaching people should be a relative breeze, if you help them to understand the core mechanism of the game.

Finally getting into my favorite thing that works exceptionally well is the aesthetic, the art, and overall design. It is enticing, beautiful, captivating, and ultimately woodland creatures are awesome and endearing. This leads me into the game overall needing clear rules to make sure that questions are answered, the current rulebook is not final, and that is par for the course being that it is a prototype, luckily the designers have an FAQ for rule clarifications that are not in the rulebook. Staying on the topic of the rulebook, it can be a little bit of an oversized book that might not exactly be the most necessary, but gives people plenty of space to get all the clarity they need in the final iteration. Not enough guild member tiles could be an issue, and some of the pieces might be somewhat similar and blend together a bit. Game times might run a little long, but once you know the game it can go pretty smoothly and cut down on those long games.

At the end of the day Forges of Ravenshire, the prototype, was and is one of the highlights of my year in gaming so far, and I am anxiously awaiting the release of the fully produced version. There is a great game here and with the many extras that are coming with the game, players are surely in for extensive replayability and a wonderful experience.

Make sure you check out the Forges of Ravenshire on Kickstarter before it ends!

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