Board Game

This Is Shadows Of Brimstone

I thought I understood pain.  As a former attendee of the high school educational regimen, an attendee who was not terribly liked nor disliked, I thought I understood apathy.  Demoralization.  These feelings are mere constructs when laid bare against the foundation of Brimstone, they facsimiles of an emotion which is only a shadow-sliver of its true strength.  As a frequenter of the streets of Arkham, I have become hardened against the potential dark waiting with its maw and its suckers and its gaping hate, and in those things I find no fear.  Only resolve.  But in Brimstone, in the mines outside the dust of an old west town where inspired abominations pull at the fabric of our world, my will was tested.  It was broken.  There is no love for my avatar now.  No bond forged by tribulation.  Having suffered defeat upon defeat in the face of these eldritch terrors, I dash my pawn willingly against the beach of that sharp shore, thinking not of their sacrifice, but of my lust for revenge.

My brother and I have approached the first scenario in the game – the basic, introductory scenario, I might stress – a total of eight times, and in those eight attempts, we have come close to victory twice.  Those two, that bleak twenty-five percent, is close only in the way a tornado missing your home before changing its trajectory is close, a brief moment of hope before realization settles, and the inevitable quiet follows.  We would reach our objective ahead of the curve: in good health, sound mind, and with our “continue” (a Revive token) still in hand.  Things were up.  Then the card draw, the Fate-capital-eff of our heroes decided by what it read, what monsters we would face, and the overwhelming crush chasing after.

Rinse.

Repeat.

There were times we made it only one tile into the mine, a series of terrible rolls drawing Darkness cards which unleashed poisonous gas through those narrow shafts, the putrid air sickening us so deeply we collapsed, quite literally per the flavor-text’s painting, in pools of our own vomit.  There were times we were outnumbered, and in a fit of strategic brilliance I’d lit my stick of dynamite and sent it howling into those devil hoards only to overshoot my mark, that stick taking one unlucky bounce, a second unlucky bounce, a final unlucky bounce before detonating at the feet of my partner, around a corner, turning his fine black suit into red mist.

I respect a certain amount of luck in my games.  I even respect a certain amount of luck in my life.  A small part of me understands my making it safe to work is a roll of infinite cosmic die, my car a working heap of human-constructed parts surrounded by hundreds of other heaps of human-constructed parts all traveling at an incredible pace, all driven by people with more vying for their attention than the person racing next to them.  In my own life, however, I have some semblance of control.  That control may be mythical, the idea of balance where none exists, but an idea is still a powerful thing, and in that idea, I feel control.  It is one thing to roll the dice and witness the result.  It is another thing entirely to believe you chose the result.  This concept is the root of my love and my hate of Brimstone.  This, like so many of Flying Frog’s other games, are wholly dependent on a six-sided cube.  Eight-sided if you’re playing the Marshal, a cube which statistically lands on the number two far more than odds or science or whatever dictates this sort of thing professes it should.  All the planning in the world will only carry you so far.  My choosing door A over B for a strategic purpose matters little when Hell comes shooting from it, a Hell spawned by the roll of a seven and not a six, or a poorly timed series of doubles, and my actual decision held no weight in the outcome.  Things like that make me want to crawl into an Elder God’s belly and be devoured for millenia.  This is a game of random outcomes, and there’s very little planning you can do which will affect your Fate.  Chances are you were dead before you set foot in the mine, you just didn’t know it yet.

Here’s the good news: it’s fun.  A lot of fun.  For all the hours spent exploring and dying and repeating, I don’t see any of them as wasted.  There’s something wonderful about playing a Saloon Girl (yes, a Saloon girl) with a hidden pistol who lays waste to a creature with tentacles for a mouth.  There’s even something wonderful about a stick of dynamite with a vendetta against my family.  Or a portal ripping open to unleash sadness into an otherwise innocuous room of bones.  Moan though I may about performance issues, I understand nothing here wishes my success, and the mountain and the climb to save the world is great.  This is a stacked deck.  A number of stacked decks, come to think, the Darkness cards, Growing Dread cards, Encounter cards, Threat cards, even Scavenge cards all sorted and randomly filed to shut your excitement down the moment you start shaking those dice.  What could make for a miserable experience is mitigated by the enjoyment when something goes right, the ability to string this curiosity of a story together and finding laughter in its retelling, and the presentation.  I like the miniatures.  Yes, I wish I didn’t have to assemble them myself because I’m terrible at it, but whatever.  Having finished with the setup, I’m incredibly happy.  The components are typical Flying Frog and very well done.  The setting is outstanding.  Like I mentioned in a previous post: western meets Lovecraft equals yes.  My only legitimate complaint as far as game design goes is also something of traditional Flying Frog stock.  A lot of care has gone to make you feel as though you’re in a roleplaying game.  Between the personal items your character begins with to help flesh out your history, and the ability to go to town between missions and further these adventures as you travel, you’re meant to become attached to your person.  Again: any love I once held is gone and they are now merely vessels for my hate, but the intent is there.  Trouble is, all the other stats your character comes loaded with – Agility, Cunning, Spirit, so on – are there only for use when an encounter occurs.  Rather than use my Agility to nimbly thread the grip of a Strangler in an effort to buy myself distance and set-up a kill shot, that Agility goes unused unless I’m told to make a skill check due to some environmental hazard.  Like I said, this is something all FF games do for the most, and I’m not surprised nor really put-out by it, but with such a heavy focus on the craftsmanship of self alongside all these other stats, it’s tough not to be a little disappointed said skills are a rarely used trigger rather than a choice in the Player’s arsenal.

There are two base sets: City of the Ancients, and Swamps of Death, both of which are independent experiences with the ability to mix/match should the fancy strike you.  I have the former.  I think Swamps comes with some lady who shapeshifts into a bear which I’m a little disappointed about, but Saloon Girl > Bear-Lady.  My copy was about $90.  Worth it?  Totally, if you can handle the sheer size of garbage you’ll need to dodge in a string of lucky rolls.  I don’t mean to sound as though there are no decisions you make which will change the outcome, there are, though these are very few and very far in comparison to some well-placed prayers.  I get my pure strategy fixes elsewhere, and while I’d be happier if the needle was tilted ever-so-slightly further in that direction here, I’m mostly involved to posse it up against the coming dark.  And that’s exactly what I get.

If I ever manage to make it through the ten missions included, I would absolutely get any and all expansions for this thing.  Even if not, I like the game enough to just put them on my shelf and stare at the potential dangers inside.

Recommended.

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Board Game

This Is The Smash Up! Expansion List Part 1

I decided two expansion posts for Smash Up! was needed so I could break what’s currently available (or rather, what I currently own) down into similar mechanics.  For this round, I’ll be focusing on the factions found in Awesome Level 9000 and Science Fiction Double Feature.

Awesome was the first expansion introduced, bringing with it a new keyword:  Talent.  Most Minions or Actions have an effect which triggers when the card enters play, or at the very least, have text dictating when they can be played (like the Shinobi Minion I mentioned in my last post, being played only after a base has broken, but before it is scored).  The Talent keyword, however, works in an ongoing way, allowing the player each turn to choose whether or not they’d like to use the ability.  For example, Captain Ahab can be moved to any other Base which has one of your Actions attached to it as his Talent.

Beyond Talent, the gist is the same.  Play a Minion, play an Action, break bases and get to fifteen points first.  So new factions:

Awesome Level 9000

1.  Killer Plants – focuses on quick Minion deployment and base control.  Less reactionary than some of the other factions, Plants are more a “set up” faction, especially when considering cards like Overgrowth (Action: play on a base, at the start of your next turn reduce the base’s breakpoint to 0) or Blossom (Action: play up to three extra minions with the same name).

2.  Ghosts – With a ton of games under my belt, I still find the Ghosts faction the most difficult to play.  They rely on combos more than most other factions with many of the abilities triggering only when you have 1 or 2 cards in your hand (a rarity, in Smash Up!).  Though they can be extremely powerful when handled properly, the need for planning with them is crucial, and I find they don’t play too well with other factions.  Someone smarter could correct me, though.

3.  Steampunk – Also not a terribly reaction-based faction, Steampunk’s bread and butter are Actions, focusing especially on bases.  Cards like Aggromotive and Rotary Slug Thrower attach to a base, upping Minion power and forcing other players to over-commit Minions in order to get first place.  Their ability to pull cards from the discard pile is also especially nasty.

4.  Calvary Bears – That’s right: Calvary Bears.  My favorite faction based on visual alone, the Bears are an interesting play.  They manipulate other player’s Minions better than other factions, I find, with most of their abilities allowing you to shuffle another’s Minions between bases.  This can be doubly brutal when combined with the Cub Scout Minion (when another player’s Minion moves onto a base with Cub Scout, if the Minion has less power than Scout, destroy it).

This expansion is a bit of a mixed bag, though the second one I’m about to get into is as well.  I’ll say up-front I believe all of the expansions are purchase-worthy, so that’s not much of a debate for me here.  Just a matter of bang for the buck.  Ghosts are pretty cumbersome to get into, and I’m not a big fan of them.  Plants are fine, but boring.  Combo them with the Innsmouth faction from the Cthulhu expansion and they shine, and they do well with Steampunk too.  Speaking of, Steampunk I find to be almost overpowered.  The game is pretty balanced overall, but if you get behind and your opponent has Steampunk, it can be tough to climb out, both overall and when claiming a base.  Bears are just unfair.  Not from a gameplay perspective, but they will aggravate, aggravate, aggravate when in the right hands.  They’re all about board control, and in my top three as a result.

Science Fiction Double Feature

1.  Time Travelers – All about recycling, pulling cards from your discard pile and putting them back in your hand.  Pretty straight-forward in this respect, allowing for some good combos when played correctly.  If your play style centers around card draw and a multitude of options, pair Travelers with the Wizard faction from the base game.  Swimming in possibilities.

2.  Cyborg Apes – Similar to Steampunk in their focus, Apes play by attaching Actions to Minions as opposed to bases.  Apes, appropriately, are all about power.  Minions like Furious George who gain +1 power for each Action on them can quickly get out of control, breaking a base all on his own.

3.  Super SpiesSpies are interesting.  I feel like I like them more in theory than I do execution.  Players will need to think a number of moves ahead (again, like Plants, it’s all about the set up), which can make for some very quick turn-around moments, though this is rarely ever pulled off, I find.  Unless paired with a stronger – or maybe more control-oriented – faction, Spies feel underpowered overall, making them difficult to plan for.  Bases often break before I have time to see my schemes realized.

4.  Shapeshifters – Also a cumbersome faction.  Calling them “uneven” may be more accurate.  Shapeshifter cards feel very situational (the Copycat Minion, for example, stealing another Minion’s ability for one turn), with a heavy reliance on swapping cards you’ve just played, Minions especially, for others in your deck.  While this keeps opponents on their toes, it does require you to have a good understanding of both this faction and your partner faction in order to know what weapons you have at your disposal when triggering Talents/Abilities.

I’d say this expansion caters less toward newcomers than Awesome does given three of the four factions relying on a stronger knowledge of what’s going on under the hood as opposed to being straight forward slug-fests.  That’s good, though the payoff isn’t always great, what with Spies feeling mediocre, and Shapeshifters, like Ghosts, requiring much more attention than others.  Apes are great, obviously, because what Baboon (excuse me: Baboom) with a jetpack isn’t?  Time Travelers are fun, and can be a bit of a cyclical headache for opponents, which is always nice.

Both are recommended.  If I had to pick one over the other, I’d go Awesome Level 9000.  Good step up from the base set introducing new mechanics while remaining more casual (a dreaded word) than its successors.

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Board Game, Uncategorized

This Is Smash Up!

AKA, Top five games, easily.

My next two posts (maybe three, we’ll see how this pans) are going to cover first the base set for Smash Up! with the subsequent two/three hitting the expansions available for it as of this writing.  I’m planning to do something similar with Eldritch Horror, though I don’t know if I’ll be following another board game chaser with these next posts, or if mixing up the flow isn’t better for retention sake.  I’m a whim man, so we’ll see where the wind and the keyboard takes us.

Smash Up!  This is a card game for 2-4 players where each person will choose a faction with their own twenty card deck, combining that faction with a second faction of twenty cards for a deck total of forty.  Players play cards trying to capture bases for points – one base per player plus one – each base having three values for first, second, and third places, along with an overall effect for playing on that base.  Aside from bases, there are two card types available: Minions and Actions, players being allowed to play one of each during their turn.  Sounds simple enough, but cards will often allow players to string together interesting combinations, playing an Action to play two Minions, with those Minions allowing the player to play an additional Action on a base containing X number of Minions or Actions on it, etc., leading to some overwhelming displays of power which seem to come out of nowhere as a Pirate ship broadsides a base you’ve got a good foothold on, blowing up your Minions there, just as your opponent drops a Laseratops (a triceratops with lasers, obviously) down to finish the job.

Speaking of Laseratops, the initial eight factions available are Zombies, Pirates, Wizards, Aliens, Ninjas, Robots, Tricksters, and Dinosaurs, which, you should be already aware, make for some fantastic combinations.  Each faction has a distinct flavor which fits them thematically, with Zombies going into the discard pile to be played as extra cards after, Wizards summoning extra Minions and doubling their Actions, Robots swarming and overwhelming with a hive mind, and Ninjas coming into play at inconvenient times for your opponents.  Each Minion has a power value, typically 1-5, and bases have their own values as well, known as break points.  Players play Minions on bases, their power values of all Minions on that base being added together until the break point is reached where then, whomever has the Minions with the most power gets the first place number of points, then second, and so on, with ties being shared equally between players.  First to fifteen points win.

I love the accessibility of the game.  I love the underlying strategy of pairing factions who might play well off of one another or, if you’re like my group, choosing randomly and being forced to succeed with complete opposites well.  Tricksters and Dinosaurs don’t seem a good match on the surface, but using Gnome trickery alongside powerful dino upgrades can make for a deadly combination when unveiled at the right times.  Couple that with the sheer insanity of Wizards and Aliens working together to conquer a mall being overrun by Zombies, and there’s little to complain about.  Having a good understanding of what your opponent can do with his/her faction also plays into the decision-making process – not unlike Chess, I suppose, though you’re not thinking an absurd amount of moves ahead here – allowing you to better time Minion placement while shelving cards to play at inopportune moments (the Ninja faction I mentioned, for example, have a Shinobi Minion who comes into play right as a base breaks, allowing players to raise their power level at the last second to take the lead).  It’s these back-and-forth struggles which make for some fantastic battles, and the fact the war is being waged between ridiculous pairings make it all the better.

At the moment, this is what we play the most.  Despite having the base set, I’ve also picked up every available expansion to date – Awesome Level 9000, The Obligatory Cthulhu Set, Science Fiction Double Feature, Monster Smash, and The Big Geeky Box (slated to be delivered next week) – and I want more.  Much more.  I’ll get into the factions and how they play in the next posts, but if you’re testing the waters, the base set has more than enough to keep you busy.

More than recommended.  Recommended to a terrible, life-altering nth degree.  I haven’t had the opportunity yet to play the Monster Smash expansion, and I’m experiencing a few shakes just looking at the small box, piecing together new abilities, building optimal pairs.  If an app version ever hits, I’ll be broke.  Happily, happily broke.

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Board Game

This Is Fortune And Glory

I’d like to think Jason C. Hill and I would be good friends.  We seem to share a fair amount in common, if the games he designs are any indication.  All the necessary genres are covered: zombies, aliens, a Sleepy Hollow-esque confrontation of good and evil, and Fortune and Glory, the game born from a love of 30’s era pulp comics.  I suppose it helps the majority of Flying Frog’s games are, or can be, cooperative in nature, which allows me to play them solo as a result of my bridge-burning loneliness, but their track record is incredibly solid to boot.  I say this with a caveat, which is going to give away my review before getting into the details, but Fortune ultimately falls short for me, though it’s the only game in their library I’m lukewarm to, and the only game of theirs not hitting my table on a regular basis.  In fact: I can’t remember the last time I actually played it.

The setting is what first drew my in, just like it did with their other game.  Players take on the role of pulp cliches like the Night Club Singer, the Flying Ace, or the Mad Scientist, all racing to raid tombs and temples in order to gain their guarded treasures while thwarting Nazis.  Or the Mob.  But really Nazis, because a Zeppelin > no Zeppelin.  Nothing in that description is or sounds bad.  And, what’s more, the treasure system is brilliant, pairing two cards to create exactly what you’d expect when playing an interpretation of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, or Nathan Drake, with names like The Spear of Hades or The Monkey Skull of Atlantis.  Again I say: nothing in that description is bad.  And further, there’s the dangers you face, sand traps and sharks and boats and plane chases, all with the potential to have a cliff-hanger ending should you fail to pass the test.  Here’s where the cracks begin though.  I love the concept of racing to cross a bridge with the treasure in sight when the path gives way and that Night Club Singer must ride the bridge down, hanging above the roiling river with an unsure grip.  Those moments are wonderful.  The trouble is: there’s a deck of about one hundred of these cards, and that’s a lot of flipping and die rolls.  See: you draw a card from the bottom of the deck so the trial remains a mystery, roll dice appropriate to the skill you’re testing – maybe Agility, maybe Cunning – if you pass, repeat, if you fail, flip the card for the cliffhanger and your turn ends.  Treasures have certain numbers of trails which need completed in order to acquire them, so this draw/flip/roll might continue for quite a bit.  What’s worse, other players are just hanging out while you do this, and though they obviously don’t want you to succeed, there’s little motivation to be invested (I’ve found) due to the repetition.  The narrative as a result of this random draw also suffers.  I understand it’s impossible to expect any fair amount of cohesion here, but when I’m in a temple and I go from quicksand to plane chase to fire pit to pygmis, I have a tough time stringing that into a workable line.  This is a personal nitpick, and isn’t terribly reflective of the game itself, just something I wanted to mention if you’re anything like me.  Pulls me out, as well as a moment inside a story featuring a wealthy British Lord stealing the Crown of Charlemagne from a Nazi zombie camp can pull you out, but there we are.

I think my biggest gripe is the lack of variety.  Each treasure is worth a certain amount of glory (or maybe fortune, I get the two currencies confused), of which you need fifteen in order to win.  After you’ve gotten your prize, Players will return to a city to turn them in for fortune/glory, and zoom off to the next temple or dungeon, of which four are active at any given time.  This also allows for very little interaction between Players.  As travel is somewhat cumbersome, even with the ability to fly between cities, there’s little incentive to actually go after your opponent when it’s much easier avoiding them altogether to delve into a tomb of your own.  Otherwise, you run the risk of them beating you to the treasure or injury, both of which are a waste of time.  Couple this with trying to avoid Nazi leaders doing their own digging, and even multiplayer games tend to be incredibly single player.  This may simply be the way I’ve chosen to play, and again a possible reflection on style versus rules, but after about a dozen games, it sums my experience pretty well.

There are a lot of pieces.  That’s typical of most Flying Frog games, but after you’re done getting everything set up, the reward for your time in terms of gameplay just isn’t worth it to go through the setup in the first place.  I see they have expansions out, and maybe they mitigate some of my complaints, I don’t know.  While I haven’t read up on them much, I have a difficult time believing the core game would be changed radically enough to address them.  There’s so much potential (there should be given the theme and volume of cards/possibilities), but with no real motivation to seek out anything but treasure and ignore everything else, much of that potential feels wasted.  I can think of only a game or two where I actually went after gear to buff up my character in a meaningful way, where in something like Arkham Horror or Flying Frog’s own A Touch of Evil, tougher choices need to be made, and all options explored.

Personally, this is a non recommend.  Everything on paper looks good.  I want it to be great.  Heck, I asked for their newest game Shadows of Brimstone for Christmas, and hope to get it.  It too sounds perfect on paper: Lovecraftian horror set in the old west?  Yes.  Just… yes.  And I still count Flying Frog’s track record as outstanding.  So I have hope.  Fortune just doesn’t do much for me outside the setting.  Which is a shame.

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Board Game, horror

This Is Elder Sign

I’m a fan of Lovecraft.  His mythos, along with the help of August Derleth, is among some of my favorites.  I’ve always been drawn to the idea of hidden worlds, uneasy truths at the corners of our vision.  There’s something startling about a force so much greater than ourselves which can upend reality with a thought or a word (or a look) which we, in our smallness, can do nothing about.  Lovecraft thrust ordinary people into the presence of these impossibilities, the results of which are never good.  Always interesting, but never good.  There’s The Festival, a long walk through the darkness of Kingsport.  The famous The Call of Cthulhu.  My personal favorite, The Colour Out of Space, reminds me of my youth in the strangest way and forest behind my house I refused to go in.  These Lovecraftian Things hit the world like a thunderclap, and the people they encounter are swept easily with their coming like so many pieces of flotsam.  How does one rise against Azathoth?

With dice.  Obviously.

I’m a fan of board games.  Not traditional ones, necessarily – though they have their place – but more, say, thorough choices like A Touch of Evil, Cosmic Encounter, or Battlestar Galactica.  I love Arkham Horror, a Lovecraft inspired battle through the streets of Arkham and other worlds, but it’s cumbersome.  Ridiculously.  With all of the possible expansions laid out end-to-end and shuffled together – and I’ve got them all – you spend more time setting up than you do playing, and it’s a four plus hour game.  It’s a shame, because it means it rarely hits my table.  Even then latest Eldritch Horror curbs this some (and is amazing), but the set-up and gameplay of it can take a while too.

Thankfully, there’s Elder Sign, a dice game with all of the Lovecraft and none of the mess.  Very little mess.  The game takes place in Arkham’s museum where the players, known as Investigators, solve riddles, navigate cosmic portals, and do battle with Star Spawns, Nightgaunts, and Cultists.  Players choose an available encounter, often a particular room within the museum where an event is taking place, and roll dice to complete various patterns found on the encounters.  For example, one encounter may force you to roll a skull-skull-magnifying glass pattern (in a single roll), where another is two eldritch symbols, represented by a cluster of tentacles.  Of course.  Players can use items found throughout the museum to help with these encounters, some in the form of health, others in the form of special red or yellow die which ups your chances of getting the symbols you need to win.  The main thing you’re looking for are Elder Signs – symbols in the mythos which look like this – these helping you seal the gateways the chosen Ancient One is using to breach worlds.

That’s the entire goal: for Investigators to stop the Ancient One from awakening and doing very-bad-things.  Sometimes eating the universe.  Sometimes driving everyone insane.  Sometimes making the DMV a year-long process.  Every Ancient One affects the overall tone of the game in a unique way.  Take Yig, for example, the Father of Serpents.  The two main resources an Investigator has is Health and Sanity.  If any ever hit 0, the Investigator is devoured (dramatically), and removed from the game.  Those necessary Elder Signs I told you about a paragraph ago?  Yig takes one away should any Investigator be devoured, or if Investigators ever defeat a Cultist.  Cthulhu, however, reduces everyone’s base stamina and sanity by 1 making it that much easier to start chewing your tongue.

I know rolling dice doesn’t sound super exciting, but I love it.  There’s a very strong risk/reward mechanic which makes me feel like I’m playing a game of Press Your Luck, minus the Whammies, and a number of decisions you need to weigh when choosing what encounters to tackle and when.  Rounds are marked with a timer in the form of a clock, and after each turn, it goes from midnight to three, six, nine, and back to twelve.  With each new “day” a new set of parameters come into play – much like how the Ancient One will change things up – some giving Investigators breathing room, others pushing the big bad that much closer to tearing a hole in the fabric of reality.  So, do you take things slow, chipping away at “known” victories, or do you head for more dangerous encounters, arming yourself with a Tome and a Shotgun, while praying to whatever god you believe is merciful to get you out alive?

Great with friends, great solo.  So completely recommended.  There’s nothing better than being driven to the edge of madness and having one roll of the die left to either save or engulf the world.

As a brief aside, you can also get Elder Sign for Android or iOS.  A bit of a different experience, but the core is similar.  Though you can form your own narrative with the physical game, the digital version focuses a bit more or storytelling, and that’s something I really enjoy.  Also recommended.

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Board Game

This is Red November

Red November is a board game published by Fantasy Flight Games where players take on the role of Gnomes on a submarine who have one hour to keep their steel casket away from the dangers of fire, flooding, suffocation, missiles, overheating and, obviously, a kraken, as they wait for help to arrive.

Gameplay is relatively simple: as your Gnome, you perform actions which take an allotment of time – opening a door and moving into another room, for example, is one minute, where something more complicated like rushing into a room engulfed by flame with nothing but a fire extinguisher and prayer may take considerably longer – all in an effort to remain afloat.  Events pop up with unfortunate regularity as Gnomes scuttle about, events which are often negative in consequence (the aforementioned suffocation and kraken), which traditionally lead to Gnomes getting drunk on grog, passing out, and finding themselves at the bottom of a three mile trench.

Red November is a healthy mix of luck and strategy, and great to play with a group of friends as a “filler” in-between more lengthy games.  Players are forced to plan accordingly, rolling dice to try and accomplish life-saving tasks while deciding what dangers to focus on and how much time to allot in their efforts (too much time spent fixing a leak may see four fires spring up, where too little time might lead to failure and flood).  In these moments, November is at its best, when oxygen is low, one Gnome frantically working to open a barricaded door, another panicking in the boiler room without a tool box, and a third having just opened the latch to the outside where he/she will swim to safety, leaving their fellow mates to die horribly.

This luck can be a double-edged sword, however, as games are wildly inconsistent.  Some days aboard the submarine are relatively quiet where others are roller coasters of pain, items drawn not remotely matching the task at hand with dice being equally disruptive and obstinate.  I prefer planning which leads to victory, a sound strategy always being worth more than a failed roll in my mind, though I do understand moments in life exist where chance will keep that missile from hitting or cause it to veer wonderfully south, and there’s nothing any of us, as Gnomes, can do about it.

Recommended for 1-8 players who like grog, absurdity, and drowning.

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