The Great Whale Road – Early Preview

The sea is a cruel and merciless mistress in 650 A.D. In The Great Whale Road (the Anglo-Saxon name for the sea) you embark on an adventure in the North Sea in order to supply the people of your village with food for the coming winter. You must do whatever is necessary to survive and return home safely.

The Great Whale Road combines the RPG genre with turn-based combat using cards. You can trade with or try to pillage your way across the sea against the A.I., and then test your mighty heroes against other players in bespoke PvP battles. Can you bravely face the elements in this real-time SRPG (Strategy Role Playing Game) title?

Will The Great Whale Road sink or swim? Read on to find out…

How-to-play

The Great Whale Road is an RPG (Role Playing Game) that uses a card-based combat system. The developers aim to make this an LCG (Living Card Game) style collectible card game.

Gameplay

Most strategy games have you defeat an opponent or achieve a certain number of victory points before you can be declared the winner. The Great Whale Road differs from these conditions in that your only objective is to return home with enough supplies to get your village through the winter. How you do this is what creates a new and unique experience every time you play.

You have several core elements of gameplay that you must attend to throughout your adventure. You will need to manage your crew and your chosen Hero. Heroes in The Great Whale Road have different areas of expertise and their background will play a pivotal role on your adventure. You can equip your crew with different items and assign them roles which are paramount during the combat element of the game.

There are a number of historical tribes and civilizations that you may encounter on your adventure such as Picts, Danes, Anglo-Saxons, Britons, and more. How you interact with them is entirely up to you. Work with them and set up trades or pillage them and take their supplies in order to feed your families back home.

Making trades and purchasing much-needed resources is costly, but not at the expense of the usual gold or coin currencies. Instead, The Great Whale Road has implemented a Renown system that is used to purchase and make trades. The higher the Renown of your crew, the more likely you are to make beneficial trades and purchases. The way to acquire Renown is to complete heroic feats and, of course, slaughter your enemies.

Bloodied-combat

Combat is brutal and bloody. Your crew face off against the opposing crew in a fight to the death. To the victor go the spoils, such as prisoners, slaves, wealth, or food.

Gameplay Continued…

The combat is a huge feature within the game, but it isn’t the core of the game – that’s reserved for the RPG elements. Instead, the combat is a means to an end in order to gain Renown and plunder enemies. The developers aim to make this section of the game feel more like an LCG (Living Card Game) by expanding the card database with complete sets instead of random boosters. A perfect delivery system for the money conscious gamers among us!

Before any combat takes place, you’ll have to build your deck with your available cards. From there you will need to equip your crew and heroes with armor and weapons. This is where the game takes an interesting turn. When you equip an armor set – that crew will take on a set role. This will limit their weapon choices, but will also give them boosts in other areas. Weapons can add damage, attack range, or critical hit chances against their selected targets.

You start a battle with one crew member on deck with the rest having to be drawn from your deck before they too can be deployed. If you don’t draw what you need you can cycle any number of cards from your hand and draw up to the maximum hand size before your next turn to improve your chances of getting who or what you need.

The fun part about the weapons is that they can inflict specific types of injuries to the opponent. Broken bones and internal bleeding caused by maces are just some of the injuries that you can inflict. You will want to experiment and discover many of these for yourself! This is one of those unique things that makes me smile whenever I come across them in games like this.

Deck-building

You must build your deck by using cards that you have collected. Your crew are also represented as cards and must be drawn before they can be deployed to the deck and participate in battle.

Features

Any game that combines genres is a huge task, but we are going to be rewarded with plenty of features in The Great Whale Road. You will have to take into account that many of these features are in the early stages of development and could see some changes, such as the artwork, battle, and trading systems.

The artwork as it currently stands is functional, but not outstanding, admittedly. There could definitely be more special effects given to the battles, and perhaps some character animations. I’m hoping that the developers use this opportunity to make the combat a brutal and bloodied affair! The custom, easy-listening soundtrack is a welcome addition to the game, as are the well-placed sound effects.

The deep and rich single-player missions offer their own unique rewards. You can follow individual story threads and investigate them to completion alongside the main story arc. Your choices can net you Renown, wealth, or even death! You’ll constantly be weighing your options and assessing which course of action is the best for your crew.

Equip-your-crew

How you equip your crew will determine their role. Give them some heavy armor and a large weapon, and they will be your designated bruiser. Give them something light and a staff, and they can throw out heals and cures to your wounded crew. Balance is key to creating the perfect line-up.

Trade routes can be found and exploited. You will need to be careful though, as pirates also inhabit these seas. Fancy yourself as a bit of a pirate instead? Why not pillage others and take prisoners – then sell them as slaves or demand a ransom for their return to their own people. The choices of how you can behave are almost limitless.

There will be plenty of ships to sail, crew to hire, and champions to slay. The many different cultures add a huge amount of diversity to the game, each equipped with their own set of skills. Their physical attributes and appearances will also be very apparent. I’m already impressed with the amount of detail shown and what is promised.

It’s a bit ruthless, and definitely morally ambiguous, but that’s what makes the game so interesting, I think. How many games show the mundane brutality of the Vikings? This is what we’re told they were really like, so it’s almost like a history lesson, of sorts.

Deployment

Your crew are cards, and once drawn from the deck they can then be played on your turn. You can cycle cards out of your hand to speed up the process of drawing your much-needed crew.

First Impressions

The Great Whale Road has one of the most bizarre names given to a game that I can recall. Sure, it’s (supposedly) historically accurate, but it’s something of a tongue twister when said out loud! Needless to say, the game has just as much complexity to it.

Playing a game set in an era where brutal and bloody fights were commonplace is a smart move. The injuries that can be sustained are a stroke of genius and definitely add to the realism of the game, I think. I really liked being able to change the roles of my crew by equipping them differently battle to battle. This gave me some flexibility and enabled me to try out new strategies that I would see my opponents use.

With so much to discover, The Great Whale Road is shaping up to be an amazing experience. This experience will be enhanced with some improved visuals, but it’s not entirely necessary. All that is needed is your support on Kickstarter to bring this to life.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by

Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

  • Aleksandar Salma

    The visuals kind of remind me of the Banner Saga which can only be a compliment I guess.

    • ZacPhoenix

      I was thinking the same too, actually!

  • Developer here – We are very glad you enjoyed it. Any questions, just let us know!

    Best.
    Joachim @ Sunburned Games

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