Path of Light and Shadow – Action Phase Games – Review

"Set in a classic high fantasy genre, Path of Light and Shadow has you pitted against the other houses of the realm with the end game desire to conquer the land and become the most powerful leader of them all. Sounds dramatic."

Theme and What is it?

Set in a classic high fantasy genre, Path of Light and Shadow has you pitted against the other houses of the realm with the end game desire to conquer the land and become the most powerful leader of them all.  

Sounds dramatic. 

Gameplay Mechanics

Thankfully Path of Light and Shadow has you pitted against your foes using various game mechanics. Some of which don’t even involve combat or conflict. 

First you will need to bolster your deck. As with all deck builders you start with a standard starting hand but upgrading this deck is far from random. You select who to upgrade with a clear plan as to why. Will you play aggressively and upgrade your soldiers or will you strive to build your way to victory by upgrading your workers? Either path has its benefits but its always your choice.  

As well as your deck, you can upgrade your kingdom abilities (player board) as well. Each realm has its own tech tree that can help you in some depending on how you plan to progress. Through all of this, you need to pay attention to your Mercy/Cruelty meter… are you a benevolent leader or will you whip your people into submission? 

You can banish cards from your hand or discard pile to reduce your deck size making it easier to pull the cards you need. However, doing so is basically like you are banishing your people which doesn’t go down well meaning you receive cruelty points. 

Getting your cruelty or mercy meter to 12 can have massive benefits near the end game increasing the strength of your soldiers or workers and unleashing incredible abilities.  

Initial Impressions

Looking at the game board, the player boards, your starting hand and many many decks of cards made me question my life choices at first… but one turn in and I was plotting against every player around the table and figuring out how I was going to rule the realm. And watching everyone elses turn choices like a hawk to see which direction they might be going and which strategy I would need to adopt to beat them. 

Put it this way, as the game came to an end I was about 2 turns away from wearing a cloak and stroking my long white beard.  

Game Build Quality

Path of Light and Shadow was a Kickstarter which can often be a good or bad thing. In this case, you can tell they took the right direction with a vast majority of the components. 

The dice are chunky and feel substantial meaning every roll feels satisfying. The card stock used for the cards, game board and player boards are excellent. It was a very nice touch to use inlayed boards for the player boards. I always love anything that can stop components rattling around.  

The first player marker, the sword in the stone, was cute but completely redundant as the first player never moves but I’m sure it’s something the Kickstarter backers demanded.  

The player aids are helpful too.  

In fact the only thing that didn’t come in card stock, that probably should have, was the tech tree… Hopefully the paper version doesn’t disintegrate with over use.  

Artistic Direction

I’m sure what I can say about the art you have heard before regarding every other high fantasy game. The art is arguably beautiful but it involves a lot of Arthurian influences that I have seen many times before and I’m sure we’ll see again.  

What I will say is that the art fits perfectly with the theme and works for the purpose it was designed for.

Fun Factor

As soon as I had an idea of how the game worked and how I wanted to try to win, the fun factor for this game went through the roof. Path of Light and Shadow includes a lot of mechanics that I love and I really like seeing them come together in a deep immersive board game. Deck building with a twist is always nice to see.  

Age Range & Weight

14+ is about right. The level of choices that can be made in this game can be very overwhelming and I would imagine younger players would not take to it well. Also, the play length can easily surpass 120 minutes depending on player count which can be way too long for some.  

Conclusions

Path of Light and Shadow is a strategical game with a mixture of mechanics that brings a level of fun to it that you don’t often see in games trying to do a similar thing.

 I’ve enjoyed every game I’ve played of this so far and seen people win in multiple ways, some of which I hadn’t even thought of… there aren’t many games that catch me off guard like that.  

I will happily bring this game to the table with any players who are looking for a deep game where they make all the choices and every choice leads to more power and satisfaction. Who could complain about that right?