So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢

Vindication with ALL of the Kickstarter goodies! Full details below! Get your Upstart fix here…

This game…

…is SO much fun!  I backed this game with a little hesitation because I’m not generally the biggest fan of role playing or area control (a couple of the listed mechanics for this game on BGG). But, the components and imagery were amazing, and the theme immersion seemed high… so I figured, why not? ?

My copies of the game arrived a week or two ago, but my day-to-day life has kept me too busy to even open my copy and soak in the newness… let alone get it to the table. But then the universe gave me a golden opportunity. While attending That Board Gaming Thing in Raleigh last week, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join him and a few others playing Vindication! I jumped at the chance… although I was admittedly worried that I might not be amped about the experience… and there were SO MANY great games to play ?

I think we all know how this is going to unfold…

The gameplay was IN-CRED-I-BLE!!  The artwork is fantastic. The theme is immersive. The bits are ridiculously high quality. And the tension is set at just the right levels… Bravissimo! Uh, could you want anything more?!?  OK… I mean, I might want individual player character minis… but take that with a grain of salt… my therapist says I may have a bit of a “problem” when it comes to components… hahaha ?

I want it ALL!

I would imagine this goes without saying… but this package includes everything you might want in a Vindication bundle from the January 2019 Orange Nebula campaign!  The Vindication Base Game with all the stretch goals and bonus content, the Leaders and Alliances Expansion, the Metal Threshold Medallions add-on, the Boulder Hulk Awakened Promo Mini, and the Community Promo Pack! Sheesh…

I’m getting carpal tunnel just listing all the sweet gear! Ha! Anyway, how do the young people say it? Ah yes… This is how we roll at Upstart… ?

Oh the punning… it never ends ?

But what DOES end is this game… and that ending might come faster than you’d hoped! When the game starts, there are two end-game conditions (randomly selected from the available 12)… but as the game progresses additional end-game conditions are added. Each time the lead player passes the 30, 45, 60, and 75-point trigger tokens laid out on the score track, that player takes the trigger token and then reveals an additional end-game condition. This REALLY amps up the tension’y goodness… as you’re never truly certain when the game will end.

Now, obviously these end game conditions take time to build toward… so it’s  rather unlikely that the first or second one revealed will result in an instantaneous game end. But as those added conditions start to get added in the mid-to-late game… look out! You get the sense that someone is always “almost” ready to end the game… and you hope like heck that it is the person who doesn’t want the game to end so that they can score more points! Haha.  But, if the player who has the lead is close… beware the run for game-end and asured, crushing victory! Winter is coming…

“Material Bliss”

A quick visit to the Orange Nebula website reveals that I need to hire their staff to write my copy! I could not have described the tasty components of this game any better myself… although I think they could have added a few emojis 😉 Still, double points for fitting the word “lusciously” into their prose.  😀 Without further ado – from the publisher:

“Have your expectations forever changed by your new haul of material bliss: Gorgeous metal pieces everywhere, 3mm black-core punchboards with a density comparable to light wood, world class miniatures of impressive scale and striking designs, linen-finished black-core die-cut cards, a Gametrayz system that reduces setup time to almost nothing, and a lusciously smooth double-sided map. Even the wooden blocks are uniquely tinted and distinguished. This is the game we wanted to make – it is the game you deserve.”

Nice…. Very nice.

And their point isn’t lost on me. The components are SOLID and the game looks fantastic on the table! The Gametryaz inserts are well made and very helpful. This game is a 100% win in the quality component arena!

Basic Game Flow

I won’t get into all the details of the game… as there are many rules and lots to learn. But I will go over the basic lay-down.

Thematically, you are a self-serving, dishonorable, and wretched individual who was tossed overboard by your shipmates while out at sea. You wash ashore on a fantastical island and feel moved to redeem yourself… or… shall I say… you seek Vindication <insert dramatic chord from Star Trek: Wrath of Khan here>

Theme concept. Check.

Now, in the game, players will take turns exploring and moving about the island… visiting different locations in order to either activate these areas (to improve their personal attributes, gain various traits/companions/relics, increase their movement, fight monsters, or shift their influence tokes around).

Movement is rather limited in the game… and since you need to get to the different locations in order to activate them… where you are on the board will often drive your next move. I spent a good chunk of the game attempting to improve my movement… but after being distracted by shiny relics and cool companions, I ended up a few spaces short of the Command Post (where you upgrade speed) as the game came to its dramatic close. Ha! Darn you, Jake!

SO, on your turn you MUST move, and then you MAY perform two additional core actions.  These core actions are linked.  That is, you MAY visit a location and use it’s power – OR – you may rest to augment one power.  Additionally you may Activate your character or a companion (to gain attributes). Basically, you cannot visit two locations are your two optional actions, and you cannot rest twice. You get the idea ?

But how do you score Honor?

For those of you just joining us from home, honor is the lifeblood of the game. Everything you do is geared toward gaining honor and having the highest honor will win you the game.

Honor is generated in a variety of ways throughout the game. Acquiring new companions, relics, and traits and defeating monsters, all grant immediate honor. Additionally, choosing to control a location gains you a couple of honor points at the outset, and then a couple more each time a different player visits the location you chose to control. Then again at the end of the game you will score 2 honor for every region you control. Nice! But beware – other players can (and likely will) steal control from you if they dedicate enough resources to the task!

Secret quests are another avenue toward improving your honor. During set-up, players are dealt two random secret quest cards and choose one. There are two different ways to achieve honor on each card and players can score one, the other, or both if they meet the requirements.

Finally, players will compare attributes at the end of the game, and those with the highest total number of cards and/or proficiency tiles in each attribute will obtain a Mastery Tile at game end. Each of these are worth a set number of honor points.

There is SO much more!

Believe me… I could write 5 pages alone on how to play the basic game without expansions… but alas… at some point I have to like do my laundry and cook dinner and stuff 😉 If you’d like to see a high-speed, high-energy run-through; visit Rhado here

If you prefer a more detailed and somewhat lengthier playthrough/tutorial, you can visit JonGetsGames here

This probably goes without saying… but I’m providing these links simply to make your life easier ? I don’t get any sort of kick back or payment or perks for listing different reviews or videos or whatever. That theme holds for everything you see on Upstart Boardgamer… Most of you already know this… but I figured it was worth reiterating ???

Expansions galore!

There are a number of mini expansions (some of which include actual minis) in the base game box and each adds a slightly different flare; generally based on adding new locations to the game.

Leaders and Alliances

New abilities and an additional bonus action add even more tension to the table! I didn’t get a chance to play with this expansion (as I needed to focus on learning the base game itself)… but basically this expansion brings in the Guild Leaders. During each players turn they will have the opportunity to gain rapport with the guild leaders, use existing rapport to gain perks, or save-up rapport to reach levels that allow you to trade in honor to form alliances. Ohhhhhh…. I cannot wait to get this game back to the table!

What more can I say?

This game is AWESOME! When I saw it laid out on the table I had a moment where I thought, “hmmmm… I’m not sure I’m going to really love this game. The physical set up makes me feel like this is a “band of explorers completing quests” vibe and that’s not really my schtick.” But, once gameplay got going I became more excited with each passing round!! Mind you, this was probably because I really wasn’t sure what the heck I was doing until the 3rdor 4thround… haha… but still, you get the idea. This game is a TON of fun! The theme integration hits the wickets, and the components are gorgeous!

If you visit BGG often (and/or use the links I provide in the summary grid for each product I carry), you’ll probably look at gameplay mechanisms to help you decide if a game is for you. Heck, on this site you can click on a mechanism and see all the gams I carry with that mechanism. I do this because many of us think about this in the same way. If I know I have enjoyed worker placement in the past… I look to see what other worker placement games might be available… etc. etc.

What I find fascinating about this game is that when I look at the gameplay mechanics listed out on BGG, none of them individually appeal to me (except perhaps Variable Phase Order). And to be honest – for example – I don’t know if I’d characterize this game as “role playing;” but no one is asking me… haha. Here’s the list…

Area Control / Area Influence, Dice Rolling, Modular Board, Role Playing, Variable Phase Order

Again, all of these mechanics are fine… but they aren’t the ones I REALLY dig (except maybe variable phase order and modular board… hehe)

BUT… and this is a huge BUT… when these mechanics are seamlessly integrated into one holistic gameplay experience… MAN does this thing resonate with me! I LOVED this game and cannot wait to get it back to the table… and yet I’m not a huge fan of area control or role playing… or dice rolling – honest. Perhaps this is an inherently obvious statement… sum of the parts and what not. But for me, I went in expecting to think it was pretty good and came away thinking, “Sweet Lord above… this is a SOLID freakin’ game!”

Game On, my friends…



Ages: 14+
Players: 2 – 5
Play Time: 45 – 150 minutes
Designer Marc Neidlinger
Publisher: Orange Nebula, LLC
SKU: Orange Nebula 001
Base game plus the leaders and alliances expansion
are running at around $195 (zoinks!) as a bundle on eBay
at the time of this listing (SEP 2019). Boulder Hulk
Awakened mini selling for as much as $22.99 by itself!
Oh the humanity!
Our Price: $125.50
Link to BGG:


So sorry... this game is SOLD OUT 😢


Vindication and all of the Kickstarter goodness is HERE!!!  This bundle includes everything!  Bam!  ??

Vindication (formerly Epoch: The Awakening) is a highly strategic, fantasy-based tabletop journey for 2-5 players. Play time is 15-30 minutes per player.

Thrown overboard for a life of wretchedness, you wash ashore a hostile island ruins — completely alone with nothing except the breath in your lungs and an undaunted spirit.

Through your advanced resource management, area control tactics, and freeform action selection, you’ll add companions to your party, acquire bizarre relics, attain potent character traits, and defeat a host of unusual monsters in the ultimate goal of mastering heroic attributes — and regaining honor.

You may perform 3 actions on each turn in the order you feel is most advantageous that turn: activate a companion, travel to a new location, and interact with a map tile. Many actions require the the use of your influence to gain attributes in a one-of-a-kind heroic attribute alchemy system, which is leveraged to gain the game’s most powerful rewards. For example, you can meditate at a spire to gain inspiration. You can train at a fort to gain strength. But then you can combine your inspiration and strength to gain the courage (inspired strength) which allows you to perform a bounty hunt.

There are distinctive end-game triggers that can be affected through game play, over 72 unique card abilities that can be merged in unusual ways for potent combinations, and fresh tile placement each game for high replayability.

—description from the publisher

Additional information
Weight 12.5 lbs
Dimensions 16 × 16 × 12 in

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