Endogenesis is an arena-style card game hitting Kickstarter this month from designer David Goh. Players control cosmic beings that, while once peaceful and equal, have opened ways to other realms letting Chaos, Wonder, and Knowlege into their reality. This causes the beings to become different individuals. Now they war against each other and the Chaos that seems into their reality. Only one can ascend to godhood. The rest must be destroyed.
The goal of Endogenesis is to be the first to gain 3 Prisms. Prisms are earned by defeating Legendary Monsters. Players will spend the game customizing their character with different, upgradable skills, classes, and Wonders while defeating monsters to gain more Shards, a currency used to upgrade skills and player health. Players can also attack each other to steal Shards and set their opponents back a turn. It’s a delicate balance between gaining more power and keeping yourself well defending against attack.
Endogenesis is set up by shuffling the Knowledge, Wonder, and Monster decks and placing them on their respective parts of the board. All the Shards are also placed on the board, as well as a Health Marker and Max Health Marker for when a Monster is drawn. Each player takes a Player Card, 3 Shards, and a Health Marker and Max Health Marker and places them on the “3” on their Player Card. Players then draw 4 cards from the Knowledge Deck, discarding and redrawing any of these once, and may lay down up to 3 Skills and 1 Ultimate Skill (Ultimates can only be placed if a player already has 3 Skills in play.) The 2nd to last player will draw an extra Knowlege Card, while the last player will draw an extra Shard. The last step the players take is to upgrade their health or Skills using their initial Shards. This step is optional, but it’s not a good idea to skip it. Max Health can be upgraded 1 point, up to 10, for every Shard Spent. Each Skill lists its upgrade values and effects, and Shards are placed below Skill cards to show they’re upgraded.
The game begins by drawing a card from the Monster Deck. If it’s a Monster set the Max Health Marker and Health Marker to the indicated place on the board. If an Event is drawn, resolve it and draw again. If a Disruption is drawn, apply its effect and place it on the appropriate spot on the board. Only 1 Disruption may be played, and it stays in place until it’s resolution requirement is met or another Disruption is drawn to replace it. Players then take turns using their equipped Skills by discarding cards from their hands for energy, playing Artifacts from their hands, or replacing their equipped skills with ones from their hand. One thing to note is that Shards used to upgrade a Skill stay in that slot, so a new Skill will be at the same level as the one it replaced. Players may also gain a Class with an appropriate Artifact if they meet that Class’ requirements. After each player has taken a turn the Monster gets to act using its Active Skill.
There’s a lot more to the game, but that’s a basic overview of the flow. Players will kill Monsters, each other, and grow in power allowing them to destroy Legendary Monsters to claim Prisms. All in all, it takes about an hour or two to play depending on the number of players and how familiar with the game they are. For more details on how the game is played check the current rule set.
I’ve enjoyed Endogenesis quite a bit so far, though my first plays felt like it had some balance issues. David has since those issues which mainly dealt with the start player advantage and the brutality of player death. The latest set of rules that were sent over level the playing field a bit more right off the back and keep players engaged and the game moving when someone dies (a temporary setback instead of a devastating one now.) Mid-game feels great as players start building up, killing Monsters, and being able to survive more attacks. By the end of the game, players are generally well suited for anything thrown at them and it becomes a game of choices and inches that builds tension and delivers a satisfying experience.
With its amazing visual appeal, customizable player skill sets, and highly interactive play, Endogenesis is a game to keep an eye on. The game scratches a lot of different itches. It’s live on Kickstarter now.
A prototype copy of Endogenesis was provided free for this preview in adherence to A Pawn’s Perspective’s 2018 Preview Policy
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.