Late last year, Critical Role announced its official foray into the world of board and card games with Darrington Press, the company’s new publishing brand. Its first adventure, Uk’otoa, is now available, and IGN has an in-depth look at what players can expect from the new game.
The first of four Darrington Press games planned for 2021, Uk’otoa takes its namesake inspiration, of course, from the leviathan featured in the second D&D campaign from Critical Role, the Mighty Nein. Uk’otoa the game won’t be quite as treacherous as venturing out into the Lucidian Ocean yourself, but does allow for 3-5 players to take part in a semi-cooperative card game as players aim for the honor of being the last surviving sailors aboard a ship being terrorized by the serpent. You can get an in-depth look at the game below.
Critical Role’s Darrington Press: Uk’otoa Unboxing
As seen in the gallery above, players will get a total of 25 sailor meeples (five for each player), 26 ship deck hexes, and five faction tokens to be used for between three and five players.
There’s also a deck of 60 movement cards that will dictate how games go (more on that in a bit) with art by Hannah Friederichs, alongside a 52mm plastic mini of Uk’otoa to loom large and instill fear in all those poor meeples. The mini comes unpainted for those interested in adding their own flair to the imposing foe.
The rule book comes with everything you need to know about how to play, and includes the lyrics to the Great Leviathan: A Sailors Sea Shanty (with lyrics by Talisen Jaffe and Dani Carr).
How Uk’otoa Is Played
Uk’otoa’s players each take charge of their own group of sailor meeples – adorably designed to be frozen at the peak of their terror as they confront and try to escape the serpent.
The deck tiles are arranged, player by player, all spinning out from a central Ship Wheel tile, which is always played first. Players can arrange the following tile from any direction they want, so long as the arrow on each tile is always pointing to the most recent one placed. The example in the photos above shows the tiles in a more circular pattern, but you can arrange your ship deck in a more varied way if you wish. Players start with a hand of two cards from a shuffled deck, and then players choose where to place their meeples on the board. Depending on what color a player chooses, they are also choosing that respective faction token. Tokens are then randomly placed face down between players face down, so that every player has one token on both their left and right. Once flipped, the two represented factions are considered the ones a player controls, meaning players will be aligned, at least initially, with other players and can decide which faction to ultimately focus on as their best chance of winning.
Play then occurs in four phases per turn: the optional choice to move Uk’otoa one space forward and eliminate any tile and sailors there, draw two cards, then play cards with their various options (or discard three cards of any kind to draw one new one), and then discard if you have more than 5 cards in your hand.
A player wins if their color of meeples is the only one still on the ship, or if their are two colors of meeples left and they’re controlled by the same player.
While we haven’t gotten to play Uk’otoa too much just yet, the card and box art offers a beautiful interpretation of the titular serpent and the nautical setting, the deck tiles offer a solid base that conveys a bit of the worn nature the ship is probably in, and the meeples, as mentioned before, offer a bespoke, adorable terror that suits the scene. And the game’s centerpiece, the Uk’otoa mini, is impressively detailed, with its scales, many eyes, and vicious maw articulated to be imposing both at a glance and while taking a closer look. It all comes together for a very well presented first board game, and a solid first impression for what Darrington Press will offer in future games.
Of course, for more details on what’s to come, learn about the other announced Darrington Press games, and stay tuned to IGN for more coverage of Critical Role’s various projects.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Features Editor and a proud Critter. Talk to him on twitter @jmdornbush.