I have, to date, never played (or, I think, seen in person) the original Dark Tower board game [Edit: I have since gotten a copy, but still haven’t gotten it to the table]. When Return to Dark Tower (2021) hit Kickstarter, I immediately threw my cash down. Soon as the campaign ended, I immediately regretted it — an app-driven game? What was I thinking? Shortly thereafter, I completely forgot about the game until I got the shipping notification. It filled me with dread — a giant box of mistake was coming to get me. Then I opened the thing and immediately fell in love. I drafted my wife and mom to play that night and it was great.

It’s a co-op, up to four players against the tower. And I gotta say, the tower is an experience. It breathes. It glows. It showers you with misfortune. At heart, it is a little silly and a lot over the top, but even so, no other board game in my collection can match this level of showmanship. I still have concerns about the longevity of the app, but offloading a lot of the game management to the app actually does a lot for the game’s atmosphere of mystery and desperation. Its challenging, too. My group has faced defeat more often than we’ve succeeded. Despite this, even a losing game remains engaging — our most recent win involved pulling off a very last ditch strategy at the very last moment; another turn and we would have lost.

Also, I am not really one for miniatures-heavy board games. Nothing against miniatures, I just don’t see them as the big selling point the way a lot of other folks seem to. That said, these miniatures are impressive (love the titan in particular) and do a lot to enhance the feel of an already good looking game (popping the titan onto the board is always a big moment).

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