Fighting the Strange Moon Towers in Paupers’ Ladder
Follow an adventure through forests, mountains, swamps, and more as strange towers rise in Paupers’ Ladder.
There are so many things I’ve been enjoying across my plays of Paupers’ Ladder! It’s quickly turned into a game I can reliably play in a short period of time and have a full adventure with little story moments. With the first major expansion, things only improved! Now, time to see what some more paupers might encounter in Brighthelm…
Game Name: Paupers’ Ladder
Publication Year: 2019
Designer: Paul Stapleton
Artist: Paul Stapleton
Publisher: Bedsit Games
Solo Mode: Included in The Moon Towers
Within a compact play area that doesn’t expand, a pauper must learn 3 of 5 very different virtues. Dangerous hazards appear, events occur, ingredients grow, and all sorts of stories pop up during a quick adventure! The Moon Towers are never far from causing destruction, though…
February 26, 2023
March 7, 2023
30" x 24"
Even More Paupers
I decided to try out the rest of the easier paupers from the expansion. I haven’t even flipped over the base game paupers for the more difficult side… And other paupers!
So many characters, and all with their own little histories in the corresponding rulebooks. This first play saw me follow Sarah Bracker, amateur ale maker and brewer.
Her cookbook was interesting with some set aside potions, although I never found the right time to pick them up.
It’s safe to say that every pauper plays a little differently, and the talents help make them stand out even more!
A Helpful Cataclysm
Just outside of Bluevale, disaster struck… But in a rather useful way! In this expansion, natural disasters are replaced by Moonstrikes due to the strange towers.
As luck would have it, the local quest was to witness this event in a region. Sarah was in the best position!
Still, I wondered what it must have been like to see this in action. Not exactly a pleasant day in the mountains.
Besides, there were many other things to worry about. A Moonwarden was in the mines, protecting all of the towers. It was time to find some clever ways around it!
Strength and Fire
With more dangers in the expansion region decks, it was more important to plan strategically. Health was limited, as was time, so hazards played an important role.
Luckily, I remembered that cities offered equipment for sale. Sarah saved up plenty of gems for a special axe!
Elementals typically have a chance of adding 1-4 to their strength, making them the most difficult. Yet this axe could subtract strength… Although the dice were all 0. Ha!
With some clever planning, Sarah defeated this terrible danger to learn her final virtue and win!
Next, I took Rummy Kether on an outing with a very colorful parrot as a bird companion. The inventory was the central part of this play with so many useful objects!
The forest, mountain, and swamp decks were a bit safer with the ability to draw 2 and choose which one to explore.
It all felt thematic, too! The candle lit up the dark areas of the swamp, the rope helped with climbing for a better view, and the compass kept Rummy properly oriented.
Stories will always be the central element here, but it has been nice to see that there are some strategies involved.
Around the World
The special items helped Rummy avoid a lot of hazards, or strategically encounter them when time started to get low.
Brighthelm was far from empty near the end, although some of the hazards became arch enemies! A Sea Seer and Wooden Eye just had all the luck in the world. Ha ha!
I kept finding new cards, too, since I didn’t go through the deck initially. A lot of them offered completely new aspects of play and interesting decisions to make.
The addition of fragile ingredients, which can be discarded without a cost, is another excellent part of the expansion.
What is the Point of Playing Board Games?
This has been a slow year of solo gaming for me, with just a handful of different board games making it to my table. I’m not usually one to stick with a specific game for so long, and with so many new arrivals, I’ve been thinking more and more about what I’m doing. Board games are my favorite hobby, of course, but what am I actually doing with them?
Is it all about winning or finding a way to win? That’s part of the draw, especially with difficult strategy games that need a lot of experience to discover the optimal paths. Yet losing or playing poorly are equally important parts of why I bring a game to the table. I’m learning, and having fun without the need to put a label or equation on everything.
But what of another idea: Am I playing to reach the end of a game? Meaning, do I try to complete campaigns and then retire a game? My shelves are full of possibilities. The small pile of games I plan to trade or sell are ones that I simply don’t enjoy, for whatever reason. The rest are all games that have a purpose for sticking around, at least for now.
There really isn’t an ending for a lot of games, though. I think what I’m after are memories, like those plays when I deperately fall behind, have no chance of winning, but somehow emege victorious. Even campaign games don’t necessarily end for me… I usually have unexplored paths that I can try to find in future plays.
That’s an important part of why I haven’t been purchasing a lot of new games. Those memories and experiences are all possibilities right in front of me, without the need to pick up anything else. I won’t be around forever, either, so it’s nice to give some attention to my older games and really dig into what makes each game special and unique for me!
Combing the Beaches
Finally, I was down to the last pauper in the realm of the easy and medium difficulty levels. Derrius Burr was all about the beach… Truly! Even his puffin was thematic.
I had a lot of fun focusing on the beach region with him. Granted, he couldn’t just hang out by the sea all day. Some movement was required for him to find the fish and gems!
I’ll also note that I sometimes don’t focus on the bird companions, yet they add a lot and are just so fun to see.
Derrius actually had a lot of gems at many points, though these were spent carefully on equipment and rolls.
Play Number: 8-10
Expansion: The Moon Towers
Solo Mode: Included in The Moon Towers
Play Details: Medium Difficulty Level
Outcome: 3 Wins
The quests were on my side from the start, thankfully. These wins were actually quite close, with every pauper teetering on the edge of disaster with just 1-2 time left at multiple points in their journeys. I’m definitely ready to try out the higher difficulty levels next with new paupers, although it’s time for a little break from Brighthelm!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Play time moves very quickly, and can be condensed into just 30-60 minutes for a full play plus setup.
- Flipping over a card offers so much variety with the size of the decks and uncertainly about what will be next.
- Stories develop naturally, yet succeeding often comes down to planning and strategizing in some ways.
- A bird companion offers a wonderful way to split up exploration and have another unique ability available.
- The expansion adds a lot with a separate adventure, along with some modular aspects for just the base game.
- Although the art style may not be for everyone, it’s very bright and cheery with a lot of creative details.
– Cons (Negatives)
- It can be hard to remember all of the active quests since they’re spread out across the city regions.
- Some paupers have more advanced unique equipment that requires a little more to keep track of and remember.
- Early conflicts with hazards can be extremely random with only a reliance on the value of the outcome cards.
- Recipes can sometimes be a hit or miss with the availability of ingredients and the usefulness of the abilities.
Complete the Scenario Win Condition
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Complete the Garolium's Tournament scenario.
Win at least 1 game as Derrius Burr.
Win at least 1 game as Dezzi Blonth.
Win at least 1 game as Ginny Heaver.
Win at least 1 game as Groatsworth.
Win at least 1 game as the Great Ognov.
Win at least 1 game as K'zaah Hoi'z.
Win at least 1 game as Rummy Kether.
Win at least 1 game as Sarah Bracker.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Paupers’ Ladder with The Moon Towers? It’s simply so much fun to watch a character start off with nearly nothing, only to save Brighthelm from all manner of dangers! What is your favorite part of the game? I’m taking a break from it for now, but it’s certainly not leaving my collection. There are still so many more adventures to have!