I really enjoy Dark Gothic, and I was really excited to crack open Colonial Horror and dive into the additions and changes that it brings to the table.
Colonial Horror can be played fully standalone, which is how I played my first few games with it, and it is noticeably more difficult than Dark Gothic. The difficulty isn’t inherently bad, but it changed the feel of the game enough in both the standard, semi-cooperative mode, and in the fully cooperative mode that it loses a little something in the process. The new mechanics, while interesting and fun in the right ratio, come up a bit too often when playing Colonial Horror as a standalone game.
The biggest change on offer in Colonial Horror is the new Hungry Dead card. Dark Gothic’s Hungry Dead card allowed players to easily control which cards were in the center line. Colonial Horror’s Hungry Dead adds the restriction that doesn’t allow players to destroy Minion cards or cards that have Global effects. This makes cooperative play much more interesting as players have to directly deal with these cards instead of taking the easy way around them. This change is doubly interesting when combined with the new Roaming mechanic.
Roaming cards actively move towards the end of the center line, and are automatically moved to the Shadows if they move past the end of the line. This really adds a fun sense of urgency to the game as, even in the semi-cooperative mode, all players lose the game if the Shadows ever reaches 10 cards. Instead of being a minor annoyance that were easy to deal with in the base game, Minions, especially Roaming Minions, are an actual threat with the addition of the new Hungry Dead and the Roaming mechanic.
The other new mechanics are fun but don’t pack the punch that the first two have. Lightning Strike cards destroy some cards from the center line before immediately jumping to the Shadows, and Cursed cards force players to destroy cards that were used to purchase them. Both of these fit nicely in with the rest of the game and an unexpected Lightning Strike can really shake things up during play.
When added to the base game, the new cards and mechanics mesh really well, creating a game that is better than either Colonial Horror or Dark Gothic on their own. The fully cooperative mode becomes far more interesting when using the new Hungry Dead card and the addition of more heroes and bosses really adds to the game’s replayability. Another neat feature of Colonial Horror is that its box is smaller yet it still comfortably holds all the cards from itself and the base game.
The bottom line:
Decent on its own, Colonial Horror really shines once it is combined with the Dark Gothic base game. The new mechanics really spice up the game, especially when played fully cooperatively, and the combination of the base game and expansion end up being greater than the sum of their parts. If you are only going to buy one or the other, I’d still recommend the base game over Colonial Horror. Although, since they work so well together, it would be a mistake not to buy both.
Get this game if:
You enjoy deckbuilding games
You enjoy Dark Gothic and want to add replayability and interesting new mechanics to the game
Avoid this game if:
You dislike deckbuilding games
The copy of Colonial Horror used for this review was provided by Flying Frog Productions.
As a standalone game, it isn't quite as good as the Dark Gothic base game, but the new mechanics and cards improve the base game once they are combined.