Journey Before Destination.
Are you as big a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive books as we are? Have you ever wanted to find your own adventure within the lands of Roshar? If so, look no further. You could be one Rune throw away from becoming a Radiant! Read on to find out how I found my hero’s story playing Call To Adventure: The Stormlight Archive.
Call To Adventure is a Boardgame which allows players to craft their own hero and find their own story. Basically in Call To Adventure, the player who’s hero has the greatest Destiny wins! Brotherwise Games and Brandon Sanderson worked together to make a stand alone version of the Call To Adventure Boardgame based in the world of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books.
In this game, you play cards to build your own character, cast Runes (2 sided die) to face challenges, and choose whether to follow a path of heroism (e.g., become a Radiant) or villainy. The core game mode is a 2-4 player competitive/coop game, but it can also be played solo. In this post, I share my experience playing the game on my own. It would have been great to play with my usual board game group the “Hungry Board Pandas” (seriously), but due to COVID-19 constraints, that’s not possible right now.
SPOILER ALERT: Minor spoilers ahead for the Stormlight Archive books by Brandon Sanderson.
At a first glance, the game rules and gameplay can be a bit involved but don’t let that daunt you! I am going to go over the rules and gameplay I think are the most relevant for the Solo play. Or at least the ones I encountered during my solo play! For the detailed rules, do check out the Official Rulebook here or search YouTube as there are a lot of great resources out there.
Game Play Overview
As stated above, players win Call To Adventure by earning the highest Destiny. Destiny is a Sum of a Character’s Triumph, Tragedy and Experience, shown below:
Playing Solo, the ultimate goal is to face-off with the Adversary card: Odium. Before beginning a solo game, the player is required to choose an Adversary Quest. The game rules advise to choose the “Radiants United” Adversary Quest if it’s your first time to play solo. See photos of the Adversary Card (Odium), left, and Radiants United Adversary Quest, right, below:
To win the game, a player needs a score of 9 Destiny points plus how many Experience tokens Odium has on his card (Odium starts with 5 Experience tokens, not shown, and more on this later).
The game is setup as shown above, including the the Odium Adversary card, an Adversary Quest and the Odium deck. The most important part to take note of for now is the Player Board, reproduced below.
The player is required to choose one each from two Origin Cards, two Motivation Cards and two Destiny Cards. After choosing, one from each of these are placed on the Player Board as shown above. Note that the Origin and Motivation Cards are placed face up and the Destiny card is placed face down. The Player board is basically the journey map of a player’s hero. For example, for me it will tell the story of my hero’s life and challenges, or put it simply, it will be a guideline for my hero’s journey. Each player, just me here for Solo play, starts with 3 Experience tokens. Also, the player starts at the third level of the Corruption track as shown (a little more on this later).
Skkaladin, Healer Apprentice
I thought it would be cool to give my hero a name. So my hero’s name is Skkaladin (ahem), not to be confused with Kaladin from the Stormlight Archive books. Skkaladin is definitely someone else.. Haha! Shown above, you can see that Skkaladin starts as a Healer and his hero motivation is Horizon Seeker. We’ll keep his Destiny under wraps for now, as this card is placed facedown at this time.
In Call To Adventure, players play from three Story decks which are divided into three Acts: Act I, Act II and Act III. After completing all three Acts, players (or myself for this solo play) must confront Odium. With all that settled, let’s go ahead and play the game!
Act I: Failure, Promotion and Aiding the Knights Radiant
After laying out the Act I cards, the game allows a player to take two main actions: gain a Trait or face a Challenge. Also, once per turn a player can take a Journey action. The Journey action allows a player to remove one of the cards laid out from the current Act and replace it with another card from the corresponding Story deck. See below examples:
For my first turn I chose to take the Officer Trait card, shown above right. To take a Trait card, a player just takes the card unless the Trait has any additional requirements, which are written down on the card itself. After getting the Trait card, the player places it under the Origin card of that player’s hero, exposing the top portion of the Trait card. What that does is expose a Rune or bonus the Trait card provides. Again, the limitation to taking a Trait card is if there are any requirements on the card (the text on the card will mention it). For the Officer card, there wasn’t any requirement. There was a bonus though, e.g., taking the Officer card if I had an Ally, which I didn’t have an Ally so I received no bonus.
Next I felt my guy Skkaladin was ready for his first challenge! So I chose my first Challenge card. The card I chose was the Apply to be a Ward, shown below middle.
In contrast to the Trait cards, Challenge cards require the player to meet a certain point requirement to receive them. Referring to the image above, the required points to get Apply to be a Ward challenge is 3 and the required Runes a player can use to overcome the challenge are also shown . But wait, what are Runes anyway? Runes are 2 sided die (e.g., essentially coins so to speak) that have a symbol on either side. A player’s Origin card dictates which Runes that player’s hero starts with.
Additionally, what’s interesting about this Challenge card shown above is that it has an Ally card, entitled “Betrothed”, placed underneath it. Ally cards are placed underneath Origin cards when the Story cards are first laid out. Ally cards provide additional power-ups a player can use during the game. This particular Ally card, e.g., Betrothed, adds an additional +1 to overcome the Challenge card, e.g., Apply to be a Ward. So now, I need a total of 4 points (3 from the Apply to Ward Challenge card and +1 from the Ally requirement) to overcome the Apply to be a Ward Challenge card. When a player overcomes a Challenge with an Ally card underneath that Player gains both cards.
As described earlier, the Origin card shows which Runes a player’s Hero starts with. Trait cards can also add Runes to help a player overcome challenges. As described earlier, when a player gets a Trait card the player places it underneath their corresponding Origin card, exposing either the top or bottom of the Trait card. As shown above, the Officer Trait card is placed underneath the Origin card, where the top portion of the Officer Trait card is exposed.
Referring again to the photo above, I have the two 2 Runes that match the Apply to be a Ward Challenge card and can use those to overcome this Challenge. There are also 3 Core Runes that are required to be used at every challenge. Note, a player can only use the Runes listed on the Challenge card plus the 3 Core Runes. See the below Runes I have available for his particular Challenge:
Referring to both images above, the 2 top Runes are from my Origin and new Trait Card. The bottom Runes represent the 3 Core Runes a player is required to use during every challenge. The image on the top left shows one side of the Runes and the image on the top right shows the opposite side of the Runes.
How do the Runes represent points? A Rune with a particular symbol, e.g., the Rune in the shape similar to the letter M and the “wand” symbols, count as 2 points each. A straight line Rune only counts as one point. The Rune in the shape of a diamond counts for 0 points and you get to draw a Hero/Antihero card if you this is face up. Blank sides count as 0 points.
Now that that’s out of the way, lets’ see how Skkaladin did! Shown below left are the Challenge Card and my Runes prior to the challenge. Shown below right was my Rune roll result:
As, shown above the result is FAIL. I only got 3 points out of the required 4 points! Unfortunately Skkaladin was not accepted to be a Ward and he missed his opportunity with his Betrothed. Bummer for Skkaladin!
I decided to try my hand at another Challenge, and I had just the right Runes for this one! So for my next Challenge card I chose the Study to be Surgeon Challenge card, shown as the first card in the left image above. Note that the text is at the bottom of the Challenge card, the top text being Study at the Palanaeum. The top right image shows the roll result: SUCCESS. I rolled 4 points, 2 for the wand symbol and 1 each for the straight line symbols. Skkaladin really wasn’t cut out to be someone’s Ward anyway!
After all that studying, I thought it would be a good time for some reflection, a sort of “gap year” for Skkaladin. So I sent Skkaladin on his first Journey. It’s a good thing too as Skkaladin receives an additional Rune for any Journey he takes due to his Motivation card shown above. The additional Rune can be used until the end of the turn.
Each Character Card: Origin, Motivation and Destiny, can only have at most 3 other cards (Traits and Challenges) attached or placed underneath to them. So since Skkaladin already recieved two this turn, e.g., the Officer Trait card and the Study to be a Surgeon Challenge card, Skkaladin needed one card more for his Origin. I decided to attempt the Aid the Radiants challenge. This text is at the bottom of the Experience the Past Challenge card, shown above. Note that, this Challenge card requires an addition +1 to attempt, e.g., see the +1 beside the Aid the Radiants text. You can tell I was feeling lucky for this Challenge.. Well, luck had nothing to do with it as I was confident Skkaladin had more than enough Runes to succeed. See result below:
And Skkaladin effortlessly succeeded this last Act I Challenge! Shown above is Challenge card and the resulting Rune throw that overcome the challenge. To summarize, I received a total of 8 points for the Rune throw where the requirement was 5.
Act I is now complete is since I gained 1 trait card and 2 Challenge cards. Onward to Act II!
Act II: Visiting the Nightwatcher, Becoming a Duelist and Joining the Fight!
Similar to Act II, the Act II Story cards are laid out and the player either picks a Trait card or chooses to take on a Challenge card. The difference here is that whichever cards chosen go under the characters Motivation. To start, I choose the Dualist Trait. To get this Trait though I needed to spend 1 (red) Experience token or have gained a “Sword” path or Challenge card on my previous turn. When a player starts the game the player will have 3 Experience tokens, e.g., the red diamond tokens. I spent one of them to gain this Trait card. Next I choose to get the Nightwatcher’s Boon Trait Card. I spent the rest of my experience to get this next Trait card. It will all become clearer later why I chose those Trait cards. For now, the more important thing to note is that the Nightwatcher’s Boon provided Skkaladin with a +4 to his next Challenge card attempt. It also provides me with one Hero and one Anti-hero card (more on this later). See the Trait cards below:
At this time I felt like Skkaladin needed to get out there and join the fight! So he did. I chose the the Join the Fight Challenge card from my Act II Story cards. I just used the 3 Core Runes for this challenge. Remember the Nightwatcher’s Boon provided me/Skkaladin with a +4 on my next attempt. Plus I had my Hero and Anti-hero cards from the Nightwatcher’s Boon. So I went all in!
Remember I mentioned Hero/Antihero cards? These are basically cards a player can play to get a bonus when attempting challenges (for the most part). The limitation is that you can only play Hero/Antihero cards based on your Hero’s position on the Corruption track. At the start of the game a Hero’s position on the Corruption track is at the third level – which means the Hero can play either Hero or Antihero cards. Since I took no action that had changed my Hero’s position along the Corruption track at this time, Skkaladin’s Corruption track stayed the same. Shown below Hero card icon, top deck. Show below also, bottom deck, Antihero cards. On the below right is the Corruption track. But how is this relevant to the Challenge at hand?
To attempt the Join the Fight Challenge card shown below, I played the Stubborn Obstacle Antihero card and rolled my Core Runes. The Stubborn Obstacle Antihero card provides a +1 to a challenge attempt, as you can see I wasn’t leaving anything to chance. Sure enough, I got 3 for my Core Rune roll, +1 from my Hero card (which I played prior to the attempt) and +4 from the Nightwatcher’s Boon. I had a total of 7 points. In contrast, the Join the Fight just requires 6 points overcome it. Phew! One point to spare! See roll result below:
As it turned out, Act II went by pretty fast and I ended up with a pretty solid foundation for Skkaladin’s motivation. You can see the result below:
With 2 trait cards and 1 Challenge card under Skkaladin’s Motivation, it was time to move on to Act III.
Act III: Facing off with the Blightwind, Becoming a Radiant, and Taking Responsibility
I’ll be honest, things were definitely heating up by Act III. And, of course this is the time to reveal my hero’s Destiny card:
Surprise! Well, if you’re a fan of the books you won’t be surprised. Skkaladin is nothing like Kaladin at all. Nope, not one bit. Ok fine, you got me. He’s my version of Kaladin – which is what makes this game so great. I kind of put my own twist to this beloved character from the Stormlight Archive books. Anyway, as you can see it wasn’t by accident I chose this Destiny. Also, just look at that art! Take note, this is the Deluxe Edition Alternate Art. This comes with the Stormlight Archive Deluxe edition, and oh boy I can say it was worth it. Sooo shiny!
With that aside, the Windrunner Destiny card shown above provides a much needed boost to Skkaladin and will be very beneficial when facing off with Odium. What’s a Windrunner? If you don’t know you’re missing out and again, spoiler warnings were labeled above. I suggest reading up on Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books if you’re interested to find out more.
For my first action in Act III I chose to get the Radiant Trait card, shown below.
There was a Requirement, but I fulfilled it since my collective Trait and Challenge cards include the required Radiant Story Icons. Radiant Story Icon shown below:
I have one from from the Aid the Radiants Challenge card and one from my Windrunner Destiny card. Next, it was time for my first Act III Challenge. I chose Take Responsibility Challenge card. The card and my roll result are shown below. Success! I recieved 7 points from my roll plus and extra +1 from the Windrunner power-up since I had 3 Radiant Story icons. The Winderunner Destiny card provides for a +1 for each Divinty icon, the star looking icon, you have if you have at least 3 Radiant Story icons, which I also had. So Skkaladin hit 8 points for this challenge, since the requirement is 7 and +1 for the Take Responsivity option, Skkaladin succeeded!
Finally, I was ready for my last Challenge attempt prior to facing up with Odium himself! For this one I chose Face the Blightwind. Another fan favorite from the books. So, I just went for it. You can see my roll result below including the Anti-hero card Odium got to play against me. I just paid the Experience requirement even if I didn’t have an Ally to sacrifice.
As shown above, I more than met the Challenge requirement, 6 points for the symbols and the 1 point each for the line symbols for a total of 8 points not even counting the boost Skkaladin receives from his Windrunner Destiny. See the result of all Skkaladin’s hard work:
Having completed Act III, now Skkaladin was ready to face Odium! Here. We. Go.
Final Battle with Odium
I felt like Skkaladin’s entire existance was meant for this one moment.. Because, well it was! Kidding aside, I was a bit nervous facing up to Odium but I was confident Skkadalin could do this. It also helped that all Skkaladin’s efforts really made a difference! For example, Odium starts with 5 Experience (diamond counters) to begin with and can lose or gain counters during the game. By the time Skkadalin faced Odium he only had 2 Experience counters left, see below:
This is because, every time a Player completes a Challenge with a Radiant Story Icon you remove 1 Experience token from Odium! So all those tough challenges really paid off. Now, all Skkaladin had to do is beat 9 plus the 2 Experience tokens Odium had left, for a total of 11 points. Let’s see how Skkadalin did:
SUCCESS! Skkadalin received a total of 10 points from my Rune roll, another +1 from my Hero card shown below and another +2 from Skkaladin’s Windrunner power-up. Also, Odium tried to pull a fast one (you have to play a Anti-hero card if you roll the diamond), but I had a Hero card I had tucked away just for that occasion (I received that Hero card from the Radiant Trait card earlier). Woohoo! I beat Odium all on my own and saved Roshar. What a rush.
All in all, I really enjoyed playing this game. I also really had fun watching Skkaladin’s Story unfold. At the end of the game, it’s recommended that each player describe how their hero’s Character and Story cards fit together. For example, how they emerged from humble Origins, followed their Motivation, and achieved their Destiny. I think you can gather enough of the story from my very animated description. As you can see, I really had fun playing this game – even on solo. I can’t wait to play it once restrictions allow in person boardgame fun again.
This boardgame really felt like a love letter to The Stormlight Archive book series. I really have to commend the team at Brotherwise Games for a job well done. I cannot stress this more: if you’re a big Brandon Sanderson fan, you’ll want to play this game! Definitely highly recommended for all those Cosmere Nerds out there. No go out and find your own Adventure!
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Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.