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Review: Rampage

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rampage_boxcover

Dragons have returned and they are invading our cities! With little regard for life (other than regarding it as a tasty snack) and even less for private property, these monsters are roaring, smashing, huffing, puffing, and demolishing their way across town, eating everything in sight. It’s a terrifying prospect.

But you’re the dragon. You’re the rage monster cutting through steel and concrete as if they were butter and bread. You’re eating to your hearts content and no one can stop you. The only problem? A bunch of OTHER dragons showed up at the same city, competing for your food.

It’s time to bring down the city in Rampage, a destructive dexterity game from Antoine Bauza and Ignauza something.

How It Plays

In Rampage, each player takes control of a dragon.  On the board, each dragon is represented by a disk (the feet) and an upright dragon-shaped token sitting on top of the disk. Players also have screens to hide all of their consumed meeples and building parts, and that has all their teeth on it.

The board is a city divided into 8 neighborhoods, Stacked on top of the board are buildings made up of literal stacks:

Stack it up!
Stack it up!

Each turn players get 2 actions from 4 possible choices.

  • Move: Players pick up their dragon Body, and then flick their feet disk.  Wherever the disk stops, that’s where they’ve moved to
  • Throw: If there is a vehicle in the same neighborhood, a player can pick up the vehicle, set it atop their dragon’s head, and then flick the vehicle.
  • Demolish: If the dragon’s feet are touching a sidewalk, the player can pick up their dragon’s body, hold it over the building the sidewalk belongs to, and drop their dragon on the building.
  • Breath: The player can put their chin on top of their dragon’s head, take a deep breath, and then blow as hard as they can (or desire to).

The point of all this is, of course, to destroy the city, knock down buildings, and flush meeples out, not to mention knocking over other dragons. After taking their actions, a player gets to collect any building levels that are completely cleared of meeples. In addition, they can eat any meeples in their neighborhood – however, they can only eat a number of meeples less than or equal to the number of teeth they have left. Each dragon starts with 6 teeth and has 2 indestructible teeth; but that leaves 4 teeth that can be lost.

A dragon loses teeth when they “move” and accidentally flick their feet off the board, in which case the lost tooth goes back in the box, or if another dragon knocks them over, in which case their tooth goes to the attacking dragon.

Let the great experiment begin!
Let the great experiment begin!

But, Dragons must be cautious. Any Meeples that leave the board – and escape the city, presumably going off to call the national guard or something – get placed on a special tableau. Each time a row of the tableau fills up, something bad happens to the dragon who filled up the row. This always involves losing a tooth, but it can also grant OTHER dragons an extra action on their turn, or let the next player position your dragon anywhere on the board.  The tableau is 2-sided and has a different way of filling up – one side is simply the number of meeples that escape, the other has colorized rows that activate each time a row fills up.

Players do not have to rely simply on their skill alone, however; each dragon gets a randomly dealt Character, Power, and Super Secret Power.  The Power is one way the dragon can break a rule throughout the game. Super Secret Powers are super, secret, and can only be used one time during the game. The Character card provides a unique way for that dragon to score points.

Character, Power, Super Secret Power.  Good stuff.
Character, Power, Super Secret Power. Good stuff.

When the last building has been destroyed, the game ends. Players score points in a few different ways:

  • 1 point for each floor of a building
  • 2 Points for each tooth they’ve collected
  • 10 points for each set of 6 meeples – a set is 1 of each color meeple
  • Bonus points based on the Character cards

Whoever has the most points is the dragoniest dragon of them all and has earned the respect of all dragons around the world for destroying an entire city, not to mention a place of honor in dragon Valhalla. Or whatever.

Points in your tummy!
Points in your tummy!

Rumble or Crumble?

Rampage is one of those games tha twill not likely be anyone’s FAVORITE game, nor will it find a place in every single game night. It’s not a deep, thoughtful game. It’s not mentally engaging, and if it WAS played every week you’d probably tire of it relatively quickly.

But it is a game that is simple, goofy fun. It’s worth a good laugh and for what the game is, the design is fantastic.

The worst thing about this game is the setup time; while rampant destruction is pure joy in and of itself, you can’t do any destruction until you build up the city to destroy. You have to stack up all those meeples and buildings which takes some time. Fortunately, setup is not complex and it is easy to show people how to stack the buildings even if they’ve never played before.

RAMPANT DESTRUCTION
RAMPANT DESTRUCTION

Once it’s setup, the game is really easy to teach, at least as far as game mechanisms. The actions are simple and straightforward.  There’s no “twist” to the rules that makes them tricky and within minutes everyone involved will be flicking, dropping, blowing, and smashing their way through town. And having a good time doing it.

The game is “easy” in the sense that you don’t have to work your mind around how to knock a building over – at least, not that much. Invariably, the first time a new player tries to Demolish a building, they will line up their dragon with the building center and then drop, but it won’t take long for them to realize it’s much more effective to drop the dragon on a corner or edge of a building for massive destruction. People tend to shy away from the breath action (regardless of germophobia or whatever) until they see how effective it is when someone else does it; but it’s easy to pick up.

You don't want to be the one filling up those rows
You don’t want to be the one filling up those rows

The trickiest part of the game is scoring. People tend to forget the primary way of scoring is by collecting a rainbow set of meeples.  It doesn’t matter if you have half the meeples in the game behind your screen, if they’re all grey and red (unless of course your Character card gives you points for grey/red combos, or the most Grey meeples, or whatever). When I play with new players you need to remember (as I’ve learned through experience) to remind players constantly that they need sets of meeples in every color to score big points.

This scoring element is the least “family-friendly” aspect of the game, but it’s also where the strategy of the game lines. It’s not just mindless violence with a winner borne of pure luck; you actually have to look at the board and see where the meeples are of the color you’re missing, and get over there. You have to figure out how to destroy buildings and get the meeples in your neighborhood before someone else nabs them, as most acts of destruction tend to knock meeples AWAY from you. The strategy is very very simple, but it adds a level of purpose to the game, and in fact it’s great introductory-level strategy for kids.  Kids will definitely have fun smashing the board to bits, but of all players, they’ll be needing reminders the most that they need different colored meeples.

Not even other dragons are safe from destruction
Not even other dragons are safe from destruction

The powers included in the game are a nifty way to make game experiences different, and the powers, while definitely asymmetrical, all seem pretty fun. I haven’t personally used every single power in the game, but every power I’ve had I’ve found a way to use that is awesome. Dancer lets you flick twice each time you move; that’s a fantastic way to knock over a lot of dragons and escape, or get on to sidewalks, or knock something over then get to the neighborhood with all the meeples. Telekinetic ensures you always have access to vehicles to flick at other dragons and buildings (and is often the best way to hit both at once). Vacuum lets you use breath to a great extent, as it lets you blow meeples off the board and then “suck” them back into your neighborhood. Every power, if used to its strengths, is pretty awesome.

The Super Secret powers are cool too, and their one-time-use prevents them from getting carried away; I will say, these powers can be situationally useful. Usually they’re pretty darn awesome at some point in the game, but, for example, in one game my super secret power was that I could eat meeples from the Escaped Meeples tableau instead of my neighborhood (again, just once). Unfortunately for me, that game only 3 meeples escaped the entire game (a ridiculous rarity, by the way. Usually we nearly fill up the tableau) so the power was useless – I didn’t need any of the 3 colors of meeples on the tableau. Oh well.

What have we done? WE'RE MONSTERS!!!!!
What have we done? WE’RE MONSTERS!!!!!

Rampage is a game that lets the inner child in all of us escape. It gives points and a little strategy to that thing we all loved doing as kids. It is simple, joyful fun.  It doesn’t last very long – maybe about half an hour, 45 minutes, with experienced players – which keeps the destruction from growing stale.  I wouldn’t play this game at every possible opportunity, but for those times when you just feel like laying waste to a city or just playing a goofy, fun game, Rampage is a great choice.

Summary

  • Rating 8.5
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Summary

Pros

  • Streamlined, easy to teach rules
  • Brings out your inner child
  • Colorful, fun design
  • Everyone gets cool powers
  • A great way to introduce simple strategy to kids
  • Who doesn
8.5 Very Good

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

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