How to Play: Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Board Game – The Game Dork’s Gaming Corner
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How to Play: Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Board Game – The Game Dork’s Gaming Corner

August 14, 2019


Greetings! I am the Game Dork. I’m here
with my good friend DC from Loot and XP. Hello, hello! We are here with our friends David… Hi! …and Ginny. Howdy! And we are going to show you how to play
Jim Henson’s the Dark Crystal board game. Now, an important thing to keep in mind about this game is that it really does contain a lot of spoilers. So you’re not going to want to play this game if you haven’t already seen the movie, And for that same reason, you may not even want to watch this video. In The Dark Crystal Board Game, you will take on the role of one of the four main characters from the film. The gelflings are trying to find the missing shard and heal the Dark Crystal, whilst the Skeksis are trying to prevent them from doing so, as they compete with each other to become emperor. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the film, and feel like you’re part of Jim Henson’s amazing world. The game consists of a board, a turn counter, four miniatures to represent the characters you can play, and the character sheets for those characters, as well as several tokens, some dice, and several decks of cards. The decks of cards include the world cards, the minion cards, the Skeksis cards, the Mystic cards, and the four character special ability cards. The tokens include the crystal shard, the Emperor token, Fizzgig, the turn token, and several stand-ups used throughout the game, as well as 24 willpower tokens. The dice come in six different colors, color-coded to represent how many sides are on each die. Place the board in the middle of the table. Shuffle the Skeksis, mystic, and minion cards, and set them near the board. Remove the Aughra’s Observatory card from the World Deck. Shuffle the remaining world cards… then separate six cards from that deck. Shuffle the Aughra’s Observatory card in with these six cards, then place them underneath the remaining world cards. Thus, Agra’s observatory is one of the bottom seven cards in the world card deck. Place this deck near the board with the others. Set the turn counter to 19. This space is marked with a purple dot to indicate that it is the starting number. For a harder or easier game, you may set this number higher or lower. In particular, you may want to set it higher for your first game. Choose characters in whatever manner you like. In a four player game, each player gets one character. In a three-player game, one player will control both of the gelfling characters. In a two-player game, one player controls both Skeksis, whilst the other player controls both gelflings. Each player takes the appropriate miniatures, character sheets, and special ability cards. In addition, Kira takes the Fizzgig token, and the Chamberlain gets the turn token. Each character gets a number of willpower tokens as indicated on the character sheet. That is, five for Jen, four for Kira, and 3 for each of the Skeksis. The two Skeksis characters must now engage in the Trial by Stone. Both characters roll their brawn. The Garthim Master rolls the black 12-sided die, and the Chamberlain rolls the yellow 8-sided die. The character who rolls higher wins. The Chamberlain wins ties. The winner is the Emperor. Take the Emperor token and place your figure in the throne room. The loser starts on the moat space: the square space at the end of the bridge leading into the castle. He also loses a willpower token. Place Jen’s figure in the Valley of Stones in the upper left corner of the board. Kira’s figure goes in the podling village just to the left of the castle. Set the four Garthim stand-ups in the bases. Place one of them in this space, on the mountain to the upper right of the board, and the remainder in the Garthim nest in the Crystal Castle. Set the remaining items… (the dice, the extra willpower tokens, and the three other stand-ups)… nearby where they can be reached when needed. So we’re going to explain combat first, so that it will make things easier when we go over the rest of the game. When a character ends their movement on a space with an enemy character, it initiates an attack. First, the player who moved the character decides whether to attack with Brawn or Wit. Garthim do not have a Wit trait, so they can neither attack nor be attacked with wit. You must use Brawn in any attack involving Garthim. Garthim used the black 12-sided die for their Brawn. Whichever trait is chosen by the attacking character, both sides must use that trait. Both sides roll the die indicated for that trait. Whichever side rolls higher wins the attack. The loser must discard a willpower token. The player who initiated the attack wins in the event of a tie. The loser does have the option of spending a willpower token to roll the blue 20-sided die. If the result of this die roll is higher than the winner’s roll, then he becomes the new winner. Only one player on a side needs to spend a willpower token to get this benefit. But the player who is now the loser can spend willpower of his own to roll the blue 20-sided die himself. You cannot spend your last willpower token in this way, however. Once you have only one left, you must accept your highest role thus far. If there are two characters on the same side in an attack, both roll and take the highest result. All characters on the losing side must discard a willpower token. If a character loses their last willpower token, either in an attack or in any other way, that character is knocked out. Lay that character’s figure on its side. A Skeksis who is knocked out is moved to the Throne Room. A Garthim only has a single willpower token, so losing any combat is enough to knock one out. When a Garthim is knocked out, it is moved to the Garthim nest in the Crystal Castle. Garthim are not laid on their side. They aren’t really knocked out; they’re just defeated, and a new Garthim arises in the Garthim nest to take its place. If a gelfling is knocked out in an attack with a Garthim or a Skeksis, he or she is moved to the dungeon in the castle. If a gelfling is knocked out in any other way, he or she is moved to the Valley of Stones instead. Gelflings must attack Skeksis and
Garthim. Skeksis are enemies both to the gelflings and to each other. If they are on the same space as any gelflings, they must attack the gelflings, working together to do so if both Skeksis are present. However, if no gelfling are present, the Skeksis must attack each other. They will not attack Garthim unless the Garthim are accompanied by the other Skeksis. Garthim will always attack the gelfling. If a Garthim is moved on to a space with one or both Skeksis but no gelflings, consider it as loyal for this turn only to whoever moved it. Whether it was moved by a card or as a group with one of the Skeksis, it will attack the Skeksis controlled by the other player. A Garthim that is already on a space with a Skeksis will be loyal to the player of the Skeksis that did NOT move it. There is one more important detail regarding combat: waylaying. If a Skeksis defeats both gelflings together using wit, he may choose to waylay them instead of causing them to lose a willpower token. That is, the two gelfling are split up. The Skeksis player moves each of them one space in different directions. Now that we’ve explained how combat
works, let’s look at the other parts of a regular turn. The game proceeds in the following order: Note that on the first turn of the game, you must skip Aughra’s go. First is Aughra’s go. Remember to skip this step on the first turn of the game. This step is simple. Simply move the turn marker forward by one. Next is the Chamberlain’s go. The Garthim Master’s go works identically to the Chamberlain’s, so these instructions apply to both characters. The first thing that a Skeksis player does on his go is to draw a minion card. If the active player has the emperor token, he gets to draw two minion cards and choose which one to play. There are five minion cards: Garthim,
Minion Surge, Crystal Bats, Feed on Slave, and ARRRGH! If you draw a Garthim card, simply roll the red four-sided die and move any one Garthim that many spaces in either direction. Moving from the Garthim nest to the moat counts as one space. The Minion Surge card works the same as the Garthim card, except that after you have moved and, if necessary, attacked with a Garthim, you draw and resolve another minion card. The Crystal Bats card allows you to pick any space outside of the Crystal Castle except for the Valley of Stones. If there is at least one gelfling on that space (and honestly, why would you choose a space that doesn’t have a gelfling on it?) then that gelfling has been spotted. When a gelfling is spotted, the Emperor chooses any one Garthim from anywhere on the board, and moves it to the space with the spotted gelfling. The Garthim and any other Garthim or Skeksis that may be on that space then attacks. There is only one Feed on Slave card in the deck. If you draw that card, immediately roll the blue 20-sided die. If it lands on 11 or higher, gain one willpower token, unless you already have your maximum of four. Then, shuffle all the minion cards. There is also only one ARRRGH! card in the deck. If you draw that card, you lose one willpower token. Then shuffle all the minion cards together. Once you have resolved the minion cards, you may either move or rest. If you choose to move, roll your speed die, which is the green six-sided die for both Skeksis characters, and move that many spaces in either direction. You can choose to roll a smaller die if you don’t want to move as far. As we will see in a moment, the Gelflings can move as a group. However, the Skeksis characters are enemies to one another, so they cannot move as a group in this way. If a Skeksis character starts his turn on the same space as one or more Garthim, though, he can choose to move the Garthim with his character. But because the Garthim are slower than the Skeksis, a character that chooses to move with the Garthim must roll the red four-sided die for their movement. There may be world cards on the space that you land on. Neither Skeksis nor Garthim ever draw or encounter world cards. Simply ignore them. If a Skeksis chooses to rest, he immediately gains a willpower token. A Skeksis who rests in the throne room regains his full complement of four willpower tokens. Additionally, he draws a Skeksis card. However, when this happens, one of the gelfling characters also gets to draw a Mystic card. The gelfling players choose which character gets the card. If they cannot decide, determine randomly. There is one other special ability that a Skeksis has. He can declare that he is resting and then, instead of gaining the benefit of resting, he can attack a gelfling in the same space. In effect, this allows a Skeksis to attack a gelfling without having to move first. Whereas a gelfling or a Garthim must move before attacking, a Skeksis can opt to attack a gelfling without moving. It is important to note that the Skeksis cannot use this ability to attack the other Skeksis however. This ability can only be used to attack the gelfling. Once the Chamberlain has either rested or moved, and resolved any attacks that may result from his movement, he passes the turn token to Jen’s player. Now it’s Jen’s go. Jen’s go and Kira’s go are almost identical. Both gelflings start their turn by deciding whether to move or rest. To move, roll your character’s speed. Thus both gelflings are rolling the yellow 8-sided die. You can choose to roll a smaller die if you want to move more slowly. If, at the start of your turn, both gelfling are on the same space, you may move as a group as long as the other player agrees, and there’s really no reason not to. Roll the die once and move both figures together. If you land on a space with one or more Skeksis or Garthim, you must attack as normal. If you land on a space with no enemies, check to see if there is a card on that space. If there is, follow the instructions on that card. Usually, this will mean a test. This works similarly to an attack. The gelfling rolls the indicated trait and one of the Skeksis players will roll the die listed on the card. If the gelfling loses, he can spend willpower tokens to roll the 20-sided die, just like in an attack. The card will tell you what happens when you win or lose. Some cards have multiple dice listed. In this case, roll both dice just as if you were facing multiple opponents. If you land on a space that has no enemies and no card, then you draw the top card of the world deck and follow its instructions in the same way as just described. Note that you never draw a world card on the moat space at the end of the bridge leading to the Crystal Castle. This space is square rather than rectangular, so a card will not fit on this space as it would on the other spaces. This will help you remember that you never encounter a world card on the moat space. Some world cards will be discarded after you encounter them. Place them on the bottom of the world card deck. Others will be left on the space where they were drawn, to be encountered again if the gelflings land there on a later turn. Often, it will depend on the result of the test whether you discard the card or leave it on the current space. A few world cards can be taken by the characters as a new special ability. Instead of moving, you can choose to rest on your turn. Do not roll the dice, do not leave your current space, do not attack or encounter any cards. Instead, simply gain a willpower token. If both gelflings are in the same space when you rest, you may give the other gelfling one of your willpower tokens in addition to gaining one for yourself. A gelfling resting in the Valley of Stones regains his full complement of six willpower tokens. He may give a willpower token to the other gelfling, if present, as normal. Additionally, he draws a mystic card. However, every time a gelfling draws a mystic card, the Skeksis with the fewest Skeksis cards gets to draw a Skeksis card as well. If both Skeksis have the same number of cards then the Emperor gets to draw the one. Once Jen has finished his turn by either resting or moving and resolving any combat or cards, he passes the turn token to the Garthim Master. It is now the Garthim Master’s go. His turn is identical to the Chamberlain’s go. He draws a minion card (or, if he has the emperor token, draws two and chooses one), resolves it, then either moves, rests, or attacks a gelfling on the same space. After he’s done that, he passes the turn token to Kira’s player. Kira’s turn is almost identical to Jen’s go. There are only a few minor differences. Just as Jen does, Kira starts by resting or moving, and resolving any attack or card on her new space. Unlike Jen, though, Kira starts the game with the Fizzgig token. A player with the Fizzgig token may, when using Brawn, roll a die that is one level stronger than that indicated on the character sheet. Thus, so long as Kira has the Fizzgig token, she may roll the yellow 8-sided die for her brawn instead of the green 6-sided die that is shown on her character sheet. If Jen has the Fizzgig token, he may roll the green 6-sided die for his Brawn instead of the normal red 4-sided die. If the character with the Fizzgig token is knocked out, the Fizzgig token is removed from the game, unless both gelflings are together, in which case the Fizzgig token is passed to the other character. The other special concern with Kira is that she cannot initially enter the Valley of Stones on her own. She must enter as a group with Jen, or be taken there as a result of being knocked out before she can enter by herself. There are a few more important rules. The Valley of Stones and the rooms within the Crystal Palace require special attention. We’ve already described how the Valley of Stones benefits the gelflings, but we haven’t yet mentioned how to get in or out of that space. The Valley of Stones is adjacent to the upper-left space, as indicated by the arrow on the board. To leave the Valley of Stones, you move to the appropriate space and continue moving the number you have rolled for this turn. However, entering the Valley ends your movement. You cannot continue moving once you’ve entered. Neither Skeksis nor Garthim may enter the Valley of Stones. Gelflings in the Valley cannot be spotted or otherwise affected by cards or abilities. The Crystal Castle is made up of six rooms. The Crystal Chamber in the center, the Throne Room on the upper left, the Banquet Hall on the upper right, the Slave Quarters on the lower right, the
dungeon next to that, and the Garthim nest at the bottom. No characters can move into the Garthim Nest. It exists only as a holding area for the Garthim that have not yet been moved onto the main area of the board. Above it is the dungeon. Skeksis and Garthim cannot enter the dungeon, and the gelflings will only arrive there if they are knocked out in an attack by the Skeksis or the Garthim. Once there, they may rest as normal, but they must roll a speed test against the green 6-sided die before they may move. If they fail the test and are unable to move this turn, they may gain a willpower token as if they had chosen to rest. Once they pass the test, they may move as normal, using the result on the die they used in the Speed test as their movement allowance for the turn. If both gelflings are in the dungeon, they may test and move as a group like normal. When leaving, the moat space is considered adjacent to the dungeon. The next room is the Slave Quarters. As the arrow printed on the board indicates, the Slave Quarters is adjacent to the moat space. The Skeksis are allowed to enter the Castle through the slave quarters, but the Garthim may never enter this room. The gelflings may not enter the Slave Quarters until they have acquired the crystal shard. Despite its apparent placement on the board, the Slave Quarters space is not adjacent to the Crystal Chamber. Instead, characters moving from or through the Slave Quarters to into the Banquet Hall. Likewise, the Banquet Hall is considered adjacent to both the Slave Quarters and the Throne Room, but not the Crystal Chamber. The Throne Room is adjacent to both the Banquet Hall and the Crystal Chamber. However, moving into the Throne Room immediately ends your movement, regardless of whether you still had movement points remaining. The only way in or out of the Crystal Chamber is through the Throne Room, however, the Skeksis are not allowed to enter the Crystal Chamber until the gelflings have acquired the crystal shard. Additionally, characters have access to several cards that grant them extra abilities. These include both the special ability cards that each character receives at the beginning of the game and the Mystic cards and Skeksis cards that can be acquired during the game. This is in addition to the world cards which were mentioned previously. The character special ability cards may be turned in to roll the blue 20-sided die in an attack or test without having to spend a willpower token. These cards may be used only once per game. The Mystic cards and Skeksis cards represent the assistance provided by the characters’ allies. Characters may play these cards either before or after an attack or a test to roll the die listed on the card as part of the attack or test. Cards played in this way are placed on the bottom of the appropriate deck. World cards that grant characters special abilities are discarded to the bottom of the World card deck when used, just as any other discarded World card. It is also important to understand how the Emperor token works. If the player with the Emperor token is defeated in combat, he must give the Emperor token to the other Skeksis player. The exception is if both Skeksis are in the same space attacking the gelfling together. If the Emperor loses a combat in this situation, he retains the emperor token. Finally, there is the issue of a single player controlling both Skeksis characters in a two-player game. In this case, the rules regarding the Skeksis remain the same, but if the gelflings do not win the game, the player controlling both Skeksis characters is declared the winner, regardless of who has the Emperor token. If the turn counter ever reaches zero, the Great Conjunction has occurred before the gelflings were able to heal the Dark Crystal. The Skeksis player who currently has the Emperor token is declared the winner. Before that happens, the gelflings want to encounter the Aughra’s Observatory card in the deck of World cards. When they do, they must pass the test as described on the card. Specifically, this means a Wit test versus the blue 20-sided die. If they fail the test, they don’t lose any willpower tokens, but on their next turn, they can neither move nor rest, but must simply test again. If the Skeksis or Garthim attack the gelflings and win whilst the gelflings are testing against Aughra’s Observatory, they capture the shard themselves, and the Skeksis player who is currently Emperor immediately wins the game. Once the gelflings have won the test, the player whose turn it is receives the crystal shard token. The shard token can be passed back and forth freely between the two gelflings if they are on the same space. If a gelfling carrying the shard is knocked out whilst in a group with the other gelfling, the other gelfling takes the shard. If the gelfling with the shard is knocked out whilst alone, the Skeksis who is currently Emperor is declared the winner. A gelfling who is carrying the shard can enter the Crystal Castle. Once the shard has been carried into the Castle, the game changes. The gelfling stops in the Slave Quarters, even if he still had movement left. If the gelflings are not currently together, the other one is immediately moved to the Slave Quarters as well. Both Skeksis are moved to the Crystal Chamber. If Kira has the Landstrider card, she must discard it. Also the Skeksis players must discard any Skeksis cards they may have. Remove the Garthim from the game. They are no longer of any use to the Skeksis. Instead, take the three stand ups that have not yet been used and place them in the Crystal Castle. the slave podlings are placed in the Slave Quarters, the Gourmand goes in the Banquet Hall, and the Slave Master goes in the Throne Room. You are now ready to begin the endgame. The gelfling whose turn it is immediately tests against the first challenge: the slave podlings. Continue the turn progression as normal. On either Skeksis player’s turn, they must attack the other Skeksis. Do not draw minion cards, and do not move from the Crystal Chamber. Simply attack the other Skeksis until one of them is knocked out, or the gelflings arrive in the Crystal Chamber. If a Skeksis loses his last willpower token whilst in the Crystal Chamber during the endgame, he is out of the game. The other Skeksis gets the emperor token and waits for the gelflings to arrive. He may rest each turn as normal. If both Skeksis are still present when the gelflings arrive in the Crystal Chamber, they put aside their differences and attack together just as the gelflings do. On a gelfling’s go, they must encounter the threat in the room they are currently in. If there is no threat in that room, they must advance to the next room and encounter the threat they find there. The threats work as follows: In the Slave Quarters, the gelflings must pass a speed test against the yellow 8-sided die. If they pass, they need to roll a Wit test against both the red 4-sided die and the green 6-sided die. If they fail, however, they must roll a Brawn test against the red 4-sided die, the green 6-sided die, and the yellow 8-sided die. Whether they must roll their Wit or their Brawn, if they succeed in the second test, the podling slaves are discarded. Otherwise the gelflings each lose a willpower token as normal, and must test again on the next go. In the Banquet Hall, they must roll another Speed test, this time against the purple 10-sided die. If they succeed, they must draw a single Skeksis card and attack it as normal. If they fail the Speed test, though, they must draw and attack two Skeksis cards. If they fail in the attack, they each lose a willpower token as normal. If they succeed in the attack, all the Skeksis cards are discarded, along with the Gourmand stand up. Finally, in the Throne Room, they must roll a Speed test against the black 12-sided die. If they succeed, they must draw two Skeksis cards and attack them together as normal. If they fail, they must draw and fight three Skeksis cards. Losing the attack means they each discard a willpower token as normal. If they are victorious in the attack, then all the Skeksis cards and the Slave Master stand up are discarded. Once the gelflings have passed these three rooms, they move into the Crystal Chamber. There, they must attack the Skeksis characters. If they win their attack against the Skeksis characters, then the gelfling players are victorious. Once they’ve entered the castle, the gelfings cannot rest. If a gelfling loses his or her last willpower token, he or she is out of the game. So the gelflings win if they find the crystal shard in Aughra’s Observatory, carry it to the Crystal Castle, overcome the obstacles in the three rooms leading to the Crystal Chamber, and defeat the Skeksis in an attack. The gelflings lose if either of these events occur: If the gelflings lose the game, then the Skeksis who currently has the Emperor token is declared the winner. The Skeksis cannot share the victory. So there you have it: how to play Jim Henson’s the Dark Crystal the board
game. This game is not as heavy as a lot of games. It really appeals more to the fan of the Dark Crystal. It’s more about immersing yourself in the film, feeling like you’re part of the experience, than it is about any real depth of gameplay. I definitely agree. I feel that in particular, River Horse is doing a really good job at making those adaptations, you know, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, and they’re doing Highlander and Pacific Rim… so they’re going after all the fan boys and girls, but with this game, it just, it’s the nostalgia that takes you back and, you know, gives you the the good feelings that you did whenever you saw the movie the first time. So if you’re looking for deep strategic gameplay, this might not be the game for you. But if you’re looking to really experience the film and feel like you’re part of it, then this might not be a bad investment. Thank you so much! Thanks!

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  1. This was incredibly helpful! I thought the length of the video was a bit long but after watching and playing the game I’m surprised you were able to keep it so short. Thank you so much you guys are absolutely wonderful!

  2. This makes me so sad. I love the dark crystal movie or labyrinth and both of those games look bad. The components are very nice but I wish a more complex designs would have been made for both of those games.

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