Sands of Al-Kalim is set in a desert region and the goal of the game is to find four legendary things - items, locations, etc. There are 6 cities on the map and 3 lost cities that appear wherever you are when you occasionally discover them. That's pretty neat.
The first thing I noticed was that once I started playing the exhaustion rules right, WOW, it's HOT. You can quickly suffer from exhaustion if you roll the dice to move. I actually thought those rules were a bit silly and changed them in these ways:
- if you start in a town you don't take an exhaustion
- if you use a river/tree die for travelling in lowlands you don't take an exhaustion.
I noticed in my limited experience that the SoAK allies were less useful than in the base game. I certainly didn't find a Jirta the Fierce - I mostly hung out with a camel driver and a djinni who was no tougher than me. It was hard enough work keeping myself alive in the desert let alone a bunch of other wimps, so I didn't use allies as much as I usually would.
I also realised I only needed to defeat one red encounter to complete the game. The one I got was the naga who was VERY VERY TOUGH. I only survived by sacrificing the camel driver, using the adventuring equipment, and tapping almost every item I had. It didn't help that I rolled badly. It seems to me that I usually roll very well in this game and that helps me like it. By the way - after I defeated the naga I got my 4th quest and just had to defeat a blue to complete the game. It was a bit of an anti-climax. The naga was the highlight of the game.
My character was Tahlia the Thief whose special power is to inflict one damage once per round in a phase where she successfully defends. That's as good as another attack, so I was motivated to raise her stats in ranged and melee, specialising less than I usually do. I guess in exchange she only does 1 damage and that made life tough against the naga. I liked that power - it made me adapt my style of play.
I managed to pick up a relic which gave me +2 melee. I already had 2 weapons, but according to the rules you can have two weapons and a relic as well. That was a pretty nice item but I felt like I had 3 weapons and that was wrong. There are a lot of relics in the expansion decks, so some characters might get lucky by accumulating a few of them.
By the way, the Quest Tiles - a very small tile to put your character card on - was a complete waste of time. I'd rather put my character card flat on the table. I just didn't understand the point of that. However I did like the "creatures move" story event which allowed you to repopulate encouter spaces. That was better than sunbursts, I thought.
Anyway, I had a good game, struggling around the desert avoiding the sand storm. It took a long time to get my first legendary thing, but the second was something which allowed me to summon lost cities. For the third I had to travel from A to B holding my breath or something, so I summoned the City of Clouds and flew in one turn. Then after I killed the naga (to be allowed a fourth quest) I flew to the place I needed to go to for my final legend
For my next Runebound adventure I'd like to do something like Shadows of Margath with Walkers of the Wild and maybe the Terrors of the Tomb. If only Scrabblette will ignore me again...