Review – Legends of Sleepy Hollow

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Designer Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle

Artist Colin Chan, Abigail Larson, Darrell Louder, Francesco Orrù, Ksenia Svincova

Publisher Greater Than Games

Category Cooperative Game, Dungeon Crawl

Length 30-120 minutes

Release Date 2022

Player Count 1-4

Legends of Sleepy Hollow is a cooperative game set in the world of Ichabod Crane and Tarry Town. Structured as a campaign, this storytelling experience is played over 8 chapters. In each chapter, players uncover the mysteries of the town and fight to survive. Are you ready to hunt the Headless Horseman?

Content Guide

Given that it is based on a spooky story, it will come as no surprise that Legends of Sleepy Hollow features spooky themes. Throughout the game, players will encounter monsters, gravestones, the Headless Horseman, and more. None of the content is terribly intense, but it has an overall creepy vibe.

Review

Thematic games have always been a favorite for me, particularly horror titles like Betrayal at House on the Hill and Mansions of Madness. Legends of Sleepy Hollow fits squarely in this category—it is heavy on theme/narrative and it exudes a palpable Halloween atmosphere.

Back in 2017, when this game was on Kickstarter, one of our old writers did a preview of it. Now that the game is hitting retail and backers are receiving their copies, I had the chance to check out the finished product. (Note that I had not played this game until now, so I’m coming in with a fresh set of eyes.)

Like many campaign games, Sleepy Hollow is scenario-based. As the story progresses, players will make new discoveries and aspects of the game will change. (What could be in those tuckboxes, I wonder?) The win conditions vary from game to game, but players lose if someone becomes incapacitated or if a character ever has 10+ fear. Fear is tracked using tokens, and it’s not necessarily bad to have—some actions even require fear to execute!

Each player controls their character using a dashboard-type tableau. The tableaus track all the characters’ pertinent information (items, abilities, and more), and they drive the core mechanism of the game: the token pool. Each tableau has a central area for fear and action tokens. As players take actions, they move these tokens about their board, assigning them to skills, items, etc. The catch is that once placed, tokens remain where they are—unable to be used again—until the central area is completely empty; only then can the player refresh their tokens. This means that as players gain more fear, it takes them longer to refresh, meaning they have to wait longer to use their best abilities again.

The turn sequence consists of moving and taking an action. The actions are what you might expect from a game in this dungeon-crawl genre: attacking, using an item, healing a teammate, interacting with the environment, and the like. After all players have taken their turn, the enemies get a chance to move and attack. The attack system in this game is, again, what you might expect, involving line-of-sight, range, and dice rolling. Something I really like about the game is the figures’ health dials. Each miniature has a rotating dial on its base that helps to track its stats (reminiscent of HeroClix). It’s an easy and intuitive mechanism, though some dials can be a bit loose and move unintentionally.

The game comes with stack of large tiles, which create the scenario environments. As players move through each scenario, they work together toward the main objective, and in doing so, progress through the larger campaign storyline.


Legends of Sleepy Hollow seeks to create an immersive play experience, and for the most part, it succeeds. This game is very thematic; obviously, I can’t go into specific details for fear of spoiling anything, but I will say that I enjoyed its spooky narrative aura.

Mechanically, this game is somewhat par for the course of Ameritrash dungeon-crawls, but the token system at the center of the game distinguishes it from similar ones. Players will constantly strive to clear their token stash and trigger a refresh, but as the game progresses, they will slowly gain fear tokens, which slows this process down. It’s a clever dynamic, without which the game would not have been nearly as interesting.

The production quality of this game is high, with detailed miniatures, cool custom dice, and double-thick recessed player boards. For the price point, there is a lot of content in the box. One issue I found with the game is its rulebook—it does a decent job of explaining the core concepts, but it has several errors and omissions that could be confusing for new players. Thankfully, the publisher’s website has downloadable errata, but after several years in production, I’m surprised that this was necessary.

All told, though, I found Legends of Sleepy Hollow to be a fun experience. It’s the kind of game that would be good to take to a rented cabin and play with friends over a long weekend; that kind of environment would certainly add ambiance. If you like dungeon-crawl-style games, this one might be worth checking out.

A review copy was provided by Greater Than Games.

The Bottom Line

Legends of Sleepy Hollow feels like many other dungeon-crawl-style games, but its clever token mechanism distinguishes it. While it is weighed down by a poor rulebook, it looks great and provides a fun, thematic experience.

 

7

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.