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Experience espionage alone in a solo card game about spies called Harsh Shadows

Me, myself and spy.

Find and capture an enemy agent with no back-up in Harsh Shadows, an upcoming card game that serves as a solo tabletop experience.

Harsh Shadows is a single-player board game about espionage, that sees the player attempting to apprehend another spy with little time to spare. As an agent for The Rigel Group, the player has a history with this mysterious individual - having previously failed to capture them in a past assignment. When the details for Project Nightshade are slid across their desk, the player finally has another chance to finish what they started and catch the slippery criminal, or otherwise risk losing them for the last time.

A game of Harsh Shadows begins with the player selecting both their agent and the spy they’ll be attempting to chase down. They’ll then need to prepare the board by creating a three by three grid of location cards. As the agent, the player will go first and move to one of the location cards in order to pick up a discovery card - which could contain either an item or clue - before passing their turn to the enemy spy.

On the spy’s turn, they’ll be moving to an adjacent location depending upon the direction shown on the arrow card that the player draws. The spy will gradually move across the board, forcing discovery cards to be played from their matching locations. Should the spy move to the agent’s current location, then the player will be forced to discard a card. There are three item cards that the player will need to discover during Harsh Shadows in order to win. If the player is ever forced to discard an item card that matches any of the ones they need to find, then they automatically lose. The player also loses if the discovery deck runs out and the spy manages to flee.

One of the discovery cards in the game will be a tracking device, which will enable the player to prevent the spy’s escape if they can place it on them when they’re in the same location. Should the player manage to collect all the item cards they need, and successfully place the tracking bug on the enemy spy, then they win the game.

Harsh Shadows was created by Rachel Bruner, who has previously designed the storytelling medieval-themed card game Royal Espionage, alongside Carnival Games - a print-and-play card game for kids - and another solo board game called Hands of Time.

The publisher responsible for releasing Harsh Shadows is Wonderspell, a studio co-founded by designers Jason Greeno and Jason Tragmire - the co-creators of the Chain Mail series of co-op board games - with Harsh Shadows being the company’s debut board game release.

The Kickstarter campaign for Harsh Shadows is currently live until May 8th, with a pledge of $12 (£9) getting backers a copy of the physical version that’s set to be released in July. Alternatively, backers can get a print-and-play version of the game for $3 (£3) that will arrive sometime in June.


Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Staff Writer

Alex’s journey to Dicebreaker began with writing insightful video game coverage for outlets such as Kotaku, Waypoint and PC Gamer. Her unique approach to analysing pop culture and knack for witty storytelling finally secured her a forever home producing news, features and reviews with the Dicebreaker team. She’s also obsessed with playing Vampire: The Masquerade, and won’t stop talking about it.

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